Irena Kobald was born in Austria, has a master's degree in Russian and had picked up English while living in various overseas countries by the time she came to Australia at the age of 26. She has worked in a wide range of remote schools in the Northern Territory, taught German in Queensland high schools and English as a Second Language to both adults and children so her understanding of how language is acquired is both personal and technical, experiential and academic.
Her first book My Two Blankets includes the themes of friendship, family, feelings, cultural diversity, integration, and social issues, to name a few. It succinctly describes what it feels like having to learn a new language. While the book falls into the category of a 'children’s book’, it is also highly inspirational to adults due to its underlying messages of change, adaptation, loneliness, resilience and re-building your identity in a ‘strange’or ‘new’ environment. My Two Blankets was the 2015 Australian Book Council Picture Book of the Year. It was shortlisted for the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Award, received a 'starred’ review for the Kirkus Prize (U.S.) and was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review (23/08/2015). Irena has done over 250 presentations with My Two Blankets in 9 countries and 3 languages. She is very proud of that - as it really is the proof how much this story touches people.
Irena's second book The Dream Peddler is a very personal story about a young man's battle with drug addiction.
Remember, when you held your baby for the first time? Remember the wishes and dreams you had for that baby? Every parent, no matter if rich or poor, black or white, has those dreams.
Sometimes, no matter how hard parents try, these dreams do not work out because your baby, your child, is lured away from all you gave him or her by a peddler of very different dreams.
Dreams that very quickly turn into nightmares. A seemingly never-ending nightmare that destroys everything that you once held dear and believed in. Where this nightmare becomes reality, the only thing you can’t afford to lose is hope.
This book should be in the hands of all young people. With every page so hauntingly illustrated it will surely start a meaningful discussion on many levels. It is such a powerful story, told so poignantly, that your heart weeps for this boy. But if the door is unlocked and the light still burning then there is always hope. Goodreads Magazine review - 5 stars
Irena Kobald, will be available for visits to your school offering a range of interactive reading sessions and presentations.
The themes of My Two Blankets include friendship, family, feelings, cultural diversity, integration, and social issues, to name a few. It succinctly describes what it feels like having to learn a new language. While the book falls into the category of a 'children’s book’, it is also highly inspirational to adults due to its underlying messages of change, adaptation, loneliness, resilience and re-building your identity in a ‘strange’or ‘new’ environment. The author talks include detailed explanations of the illustrations and the most important metaphors in My Two Blankets, as well as background information.
The themes that can be explored in The Dream Peddler include self -knowledge, false dreams, false hope, loss of self, dysfunctional relationships, unconditional love, remorse, self-healing, instant gratification and substance addiction. It was inspired by Irena's son's addiction to crystal methamphetamine (ice). The story is a universal tale about the lure of false promises so that readers can find a range of meanings relevant to their own experience, or to life in general.
Irena is a wonderful woman. At all times she was co-operative and willing to contribute her time and talent for the service of others. Her attitude and presentation were always first class. I have no hesitation in highly recommending Irena as an Artist-in Residence
St Joseph 's College Toowoomba - July 2018St Joseph 's College Toowoomba - July 2018Irena Kobald