Dray, Matt 1967-

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Dray, Matt 1967-

(Matthew Frederick Dray)

Personal

Born April 2, 1967, in Proserpine, Queensland, Australia; son of Frederick William (a sugarcane farmer) and Genevieve Amy (a homemaker) Dray. Education: St. Joseph's College, graduated, 1984. Religion: Roman Catholic.

Addresses

Home—Queensland, Australia. E-mail—[email protected]

Career

Children's book writer. Has worked variously as a milkman, farm hand, construction worker, truck driver, fruit picker, security guard, plant operator, and laborer.

Writings

FOR CHILDREN

Dougal the Garbage Dump Bear, Penguin Australia (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004, Kane/Miller (La Jolla, CA), 2005.

Dougal and Bumble and the Long Walk Home, Penguin Australia (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2006.

Dougal and Bumble and the Big Race, Penguin Australia (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2008.

FOR ADULTS

A Day at the Races (novel), Penguin Australia (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Sidelights

Australian children's book writer Matt Dray told SATA: "My career in children's books kicked off one morning at a garbage dump in 2002. I was bulldozing rubbish when a small, brown, furry leg sticking out the top of a pile of white paper caught my eye. It belonged to a little bear who'd seen better days but was still in one piece. He (he looked like a he) became the dump mascot. One of my workmates, Bryce, found a bench for him to sit on and we called him Dougal.

"Dougal sat on his own for a week or so, them more toys began turning up in the rubbish. Bears, dogs, rabbits, elephants, a bee; the list goes on. In six weeks we had over fifty orphans, all sitting together on couches and chairs and rugs. One Saturday morning I brought two disposable cameras to work and started taking photos of them. A vague idea for a story began to evolve, with Dougal as the main character and Bumble the bee as his sidekick. The photos became the illustrations.

"Comic strips like ‘Peanuts,’ ‘Hagar the Horrible,’ ‘The Wizard of Id,’ and ‘Garfield’ have definitely had some influence on me, as have my two favourite Sesame Street characters: Ernie and Bert. Some of their scenes back in the Seventies were brilliant, and I think Jim Henson and his buddies were simply amusing themselves rather than their audience, which I guess is the key to writing quality books, scripts, or anything. The blokes I've worked with over the years have given me heaps of ideas too.

"My two favorite comic strips now are ‘Dilbert’ and ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ They're the main reason I buy newspapers. I even skip the sports section."

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Kirkus Reviews, September, 2005, review of Dougal the Garbage Dump Bear, p. 971.

School Library Journal, November, 2005, Sally R. Dow, review of Dougal the Garbage Dump Bear, p. 89.