Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: 2014

Friday, December 26, 2014

Child Literacy

A short piece I wrote earlier in the year for the blog of extraordinary literacy charity Room to Read about why stories matter and how they have changed my life.


Monday, December 8, 2014

On the Run

'On The Run recalls the great adventure stories of Jack London but with the gritty realism of 21st-century story-telling. Gripping and unpredictable, with a hero you won't forget.’ 
- John Boyne, author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas

'A tense, hard-edged, no-holds-barred thriller.' - Anthony Horowitz (Alex Rider series)

Top 10 Aus YA Novel 2013-14           Top 10 YA Book of the Year
- Nielsen Bookscan                                - Booktopia

On the Run (Farrar Straus Giroux, 17 November 2015), the US edition of my middle-grade mystery novel published in Australia as Two Wolves.


One afternoon, four police officers visit Ben Silver’s home. Minutes after they leave, his parents arrive. Ben and his little sister Olive are bundled into the car and told they’re going on a holiday. Which is weird, because Ben’s family never goes on holidays. 

Things aren’t right and Ben knows it. His parents are on the run. So Ben and Olive are running, too. 

Ben’s always dreamt of becoming a detective – his dad even calls him ‘Cop’ because he asks so many questions. Now Ben gathers evidence, jots notes and tries to uncover what his parents have done. The trouble is, if he figures it out, what does he do next? Tell someone? Or keep the secret and live life on the run?

Buy Now

  Buy a copy of On The Run, signed by the author Tristan Bancks

What Reviewers, Bloggers & Educators Are Saying:

'Ben is a well-developed, sympathetic character, grappling with a cruel father, weight problems, and evolving confusion about his place in his family, with age-appropriate confusion and insecurity. 
This is a story that will appeal to avid consumers of adventure stories and reluctant readers alike.' 
Jenna Lanterman, School Library Journal

'Has both the exciting pace and high stakes of a summer blockbuster.'
- Publisher's Weekly

'Bancks’s third-person narrative works effectively in
lacing the propulsive survival story with the ethical questions young Ben ponders.
If his father (and grandfather) were criminals, Ben wonders, what kind of person
does that make him? “Is it possible to outrun the blood you have inherited, to
become somebody else?” A satisfying story that will pull readers in and get them
thinking about big ideas.' - The Horn Book

'In On the Run, a dramatic page-turner by Australian actor-turned-writer Tristan Bancks (Mac Slater series), young readers will find both action and psychological thrills as Ben comes of age abruptly and irrevocably.' - Emilie Coulter, Shelf Awareness
'This engrossing novel captures the reader with the skill and narrative power of the descriptive writing, its intriguing plot, believable dialogue, family tensions, and Ben’s emotional and physical growth . . . Highly recommended for secondary readers as a gripping read, and for class discussion on many levels." - Chloé Mauger, Magpies

'It's such a great book: well written, gripping, psychologically true and ethically complex. Fantastic characterisation (especially Ben & Olive, who is wonderfully well-drawn) and a truly exciting story. Loved it. I hope it sells by the truckload!’ - Judith Ridge, Westwords.

'While keeping the narrative exciting and fast-paced, Bancks poses moral dilemmas and choices which increase the depth and literary worth of the novel... Ben [is] flawed, realistic but a positive role-model for teen readers. - Joy Lawn, Boomerang Books.

'I predict that this will become a set novel in many secondary English and Media classrooms. Its sense of place, the action, the moral issues, the connections with other literature, its filmic potential – the list goes on. There are twenty pages of excellent teaching notes on the Random House website here.' - Megan Daley, Teacher-Librarian / Blogger at Children's Books Daily.

'I’m a huge fan of Tristan Bancks’s Mac Slater books and was excited to read his new one – it doesn’t disappoint. Two Wolves is a fantastic, suspenseful novel for readers aged 11 and up, and a book that will keep them reading well into the night!' - Katherine Dretzke, Readings Books, Hawthorn

Sue Warren, TL / blogger:
Miffy Farquharson TL / blogger:
Crew's Reviews:

'I loved reading Two Wolves! Thrilling, thought provoking & an adventure to boot. 
Well done - deserving of book cake.' 
AJ Betts, author of Zac & Mia

‘A high stakes adventure that will keep you guessing and breathless until the very end. A moving family drama about the wild places of nature and the human heart, all rolled into one tense and powerful package.’ 
– Michael Gerard Bauer, author of Don't Call Me Ishmael

Special thanks to Catherine Drayton, Sophie Hamley, Zoe Walton, Kimberley Bennett, Margaret Ferguson and Susan Dobinick for their editorial support, advice and assistance throughout the development of this book.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Top 10 Funny Books for Kids

Here's the Top 10 Funny Books For Kids list published in my book of weird-funny-gross short stories My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrong

It features some of my favourite kid lit yuksters from childhood and now: Paul Jennings, Tim Winton, Roald Dahl, Rene Goscinny, Michael Gerard Bauer, Judy Blume, Oliver Phommavanh, David Metzenthen, David Walliams and Andy Griffiths.

Illustration by Gus Gordon from My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrong


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Room to Read World Change Challenge Gives 20,000+ Books to Kids in Developing World

The 2014 Room to Read World Change Challenge has reached it's fundraising goal! Room to Read Writer-Ambassadors have teamed with school students all over the country to raise more than $20,000 to buy over 20,000 local-language books for children in the world’s poorest countries.

Australian authors have spent the past four months visiting schools across Australia and inspiring kids to help reach our $20,000 goal. (Room to Read’s writer-ambassador team includes some of Australia’s bestselling children’s authors: Deborah Abela, Jesse Blackadder, Sarah Davis, Kate Forsyth, Gus Gordon, Susanne Gervay, Libby Hathorn, Jacquie Harvey, John Larkin, Melina Marchetta, Sophie Masson, Belinda Murrell, Oliver Phommavanh and Alice Pung.)

There have been BookSwaps, Guessing Competitions, Market Stalls, Drop Everything and Read hours, Embarrass Your Teacher days and dozens of other inventive challenges dreamed up and executed by kids everywhere.

Deborah Abela and Stephen Axelson auctioning artwork at the 2014 SCBWI Conference.
The 2014 Society of Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference held an art auction of illustrations by Bruce Whatley and Stephen Axelson, the challenge was hosted by Room to Read ambassadors Deborah Abela and Susanne Gervay, raising $1400. Author Jesse Blackadder and her partner Andi completed a 350km bike ride in New Zealand, raising $1650. Star of the Sea Catholic School in Gladstone Queensland raised $2154.50.

Josh Lorschy with Room to Read founder, John Wood.
And 14 year-old Sydney schoolboy, filmmaker and activist Josh Lorschy rallied his school, Barker College, to raise a stellar $3160.90. Star of the Sea wins a book prize package from Random House Australia and I will visit Barker College to give a talk on reading, writing and creativity.

Room to Read is one of the most dynamic non-profits on the planet, establishing more than 16,000 school libraries in the developing world, educating more than 28,000 girls and benefiting more than 8.8 million children with their programs over the past fourteen years. Their Destination Literacy goal is to reach 10 million children by December 2015.

HUGE thanks to Room-to-Readers Jennie Orchard, Wendy Rapee, Mihiri Udabage and Janelle Prescott who have supported this year’s World Change Challenge all the way as well as to our writer-ambassadors, sponsor Random House Australia, and all the teachers and students who dug in and made this happen.


The 2015 Challenge promises to be better than ever, with a bigger, hairier goal, wilder challenges, even greater student engagement across Australia and more books in the hands of children who, otherwise, would have none. Well done to all!


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Life & Other Massive Mistakes

'This book is 100% gluten free, 100% fat free, 100% organic and 35% fact free. It has no added sugar and contains absolutely NO NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS AT ALL! May contain traces of NUTS!' 
- Raph Atkins, kid author, llama enthusiast

'This book of funny, ridiculous and really pretty disgusting short stories 
is sure to make you laugh out loud.' 

My Life & Other Massive Mistakes (March 2015, Random House Australia) is my third book of semi-autobiographical, weird-funny-gross adventures starring Tom Weekly and illustrated by the one and only Gusto Gordon.


  Buy a copy of My Life & Other Massive Mistakes, signed by the author Tristan Bancks

Have you ever helped your pop escape from a nursing home? Does your teacher have a problem with his bowels? Have you ever mined your teeth for cash? Is there a girl or boy at school who will stop at nothing to kiss you? And do you know someone with the worst case of nits in world history?
I do. I'm Tom Weekly and this is the third book in my life story.
The stories were written during my six-month European / SE Asian family travel adventure late last year and early this year.



Mad Cat by Gus Gordon

Thanks for the enormous support of My Life and Two Wolves over the past year. I'm super-blessed to be part of an extraordinary network of people who care about reading, storytelling and creativity. And HUGE thanks to reader Ruby Barker who came up with a name for the book in blog comments in my Search for a Title. Ruby has received a signed set of all three My Life books.

Nit Plague by Gus Gordon.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Winner of My Search For a Young Writer


Good news! I have chosen a winner in my 2014 Search for a Young Writer.

It is Otis Mayocchi with his story, 'Champions', about two ultra-competitive brothers who stage a Weet-Bix eating competition that is doomed from the beginning. The story feels personal, authentic, funny and very 'My Life'. It was developed during Brisbane's Bardon Young Writer's Week, a five-day writer's camp that has been running for almost twenty years under the guidance of teacher-librarian Jane-Marie Butler.

Otis wins $100 worth of Random House books and I will be working with him to edit and polish the story over the next couple of months.

Thank you so much to all entrants in the competition. It was a tough decision. Quite a few of the strongest stories were drama rather than comedy so, unfortunately, I couldn't consider them for this search but I loved reading those stories.

The runner-up stories this year were 'Kyle's Style' by Joel Hawkins from TAS, a story with great narrative drive and a very strong central idea, and 'Jess the Barfing Beagle' by Hayley Nankivell from QLD, a disgustingly true story about her own dog.

I am unable to give feedback on every story entered into the competition but I hope that all entrants will continue to develop their stories and writing. I only ever find that my stories start to come together around the fifth or sixth draft and I will often write twenty drafts of a short story, so keep going! You are welcome to re-enter your stories next year if they have been re-written.

Here are some general points that will help to supercharge your stories for 2015:
* The best stories submitted were about one idea. They didn't try to stuff a novel into 1000 words. Short stories should be very simple. The strongest stories had very few locations and very few jumps in time (e.g. 'Three months later...').

* The best stories felt as though they had been rewritten lots of times. The writer knew what the story was about and what it wasn't about. They knew the main character's WANT, they had strong CONFLICT to that want and the character stood to lose something valuable to them (STAKES), even if that stake was as seemingly silly as a loss to a brother in a Weet-Bix eating competition. What matters is that the reader believes it's something valuable to the character. The writers who knew these things were able to strip away paragraphs and ideas that didn't move the story forward. In a short story every word should move the story forward.

* Endings are often very difficult. The ending is easier to write if you know what the character Wants from the very beginning. The ending then becomes a matter of having the character achieve or miss out on their goal. For me, the best short stories do this in a surprising way but the solution to the story still comes from within the story, not from outside.

The 2015 Search For a Young Writer is going to be HUGE with much bigger prizes for writers and schools and major support from Random House Australia. I'll be announcing the search in March when the new book, My Life & Other Massive Mistakes is released. I'll also be putting up lots of tips and checklists that will help with the writing process. And, again, I'll be looking for a short story to publish in an upcoming My Life book. Meantime, try to read a lot, write a lot and live a lot.

Happy writing. I hope to catch you at a talk or workshop in 2015.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Best Books For 11 Year-Olds

Here are the best books for 11 year-olds as voted by my son and semi-regular guest-blogger, Hux.

1. 'Caesar the War Dog' series by Stephen Dando-Collins (See Hux's review of the first 'Caesar' book here.)

2. 'Harry Potter' series by J.K. Rowling

3. 'H.I.V.E' series (Higher Institute of Villainous Education) by Mark Walden

4. 'Alex Rider' series by Anthony Horowitz

5. Wonder by R.J. Palacio

6. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

7. Red Samurai by Tiffiny Hall

8. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

9. Mort by Martin Chatterton

10. Two Wolves by Me (I didn't even pay him [much] to say this. What a guy.)

Here's Hux's list of Best Books for 9-10 year-olds.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Caesar the War Dog Operation Blue Dragon Review

Here's my son Hux's review of the second book in Stephen Dando-Collins' much-loved 'Caesar the War Dog' series, Operation Blue Dragon...

When Charlie Grover, an injured SAS operative, gets a new set of prosthetic legs he is able to re-take the SAS selection training course. Charlie no longer needs Caesar as his care dog, so Caesar can go back to doing what he does best – sniffing out explosives with Ben Fulton, his owner.

Meanwhile Josh, Ben’s son, is having trouble at school with a bully.

On their first mission back together Caesar & Ben help rescue the Secretary-General of the United Nations, whose helicopter went down in an area where there is known Taliban

activity. The Taliban force the Secretary-General to make a video asking a ransom for his release. It’s up to Ben, Caesar and a bunch of special operatives from around the world to save him.

I give it 100 out of 10. There are two other books in the series with another on the way. Enjoy.

P.S. Here's Hux's review of the first book in the 'Caesar' series.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Instagram Book Tour

I'm taking the week off after spending most of this year travelling around, talking about the new books to anyone who'd listen. (Thanks to all the kids and colleagues who made it happen). I've been documenting my adventures on Instagram. Feel free to wander over and have a look. Would be good to connect with you there. I'm @tristanbancks

Looking forward to diving down into writing the new book in coming months before hitting' the road again in March with My Life & Other Massive Mistakes (my third book of weird-funny-gross short stories).

Have a great week.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Top 10 Young Adult Books : Claire Zorn

Claire Zorn's novel The Sky So Heavy is a 2014 Children's Book Council of Australia Honour Book. It's also been nominated for the Aurealis Awards and for the Gold Inky. (On top of this, she's an interesting and kind human.) Here, she shares her top 10 Young Adult reads. Enjoy!

So Much to Tell You, John Marsden

Graffiti Moon, Cath Crowley
Jasper Jones, Craig Silvey
The Book Thief, some guy called Markus Zusak

Came Back to Show You I Could Fly, Robin Klein 

People Might Hear You, Robin Klein
Looking For Alibrandi, Melina Marchetta
Zac & Mia, AJ Betts
Friday Brown, Vikki Wakefield
Butterfly, Sonya Hartnett

Check back for another Top 10 Books list next week.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Brisbane School Holiday Writing Workshops

Here are three active, hands-on creative writing, transmedia and filmmaking workshops I'm running in the school holidays at State Library of QLD and QLD Writers Centre. Still places left but iAuthor, in particular, filling up fast.

Story Safari - QLD Writers' Centre
Take an outdoor writing adventure with storyteller Tristan Bancks. Explore South Bank’s parks, museums, galleries and people – like true documentarians – and discover all the wonderment of transforming real life stories onto the page. Bring your imagination and adventurous spirit, leave the laptops at home! For writers aged 10 - 15.

Bookings and Info:

iAuthor transmedia writing workshop - Story Lab State Library QLD
iAuthor is a transmedia writing workshop allowing you to dream, create and share your own ideas through video, images, sound, maps, music, voice, social media and written word.

You will be provided with an iPod Touch for gathering and creating stories (or you can bring your own) and use it to supercharge creativity and share stories across multiple platforms. You will also use the latest version of Tristan's digital brainstorming tool, Story Scrapbook, to spin ideas and story fragments into spellbinding tales.

This workshop is for ages 8 – 11. All materials are supplied and participants will take home a USB with a copy of their work created on the day.

Bookings and Info:

Write it, Film it, Share it! short filmmaking workshop - Story Lab, State Library QLD
At this lively and interactive day-long workshop, develop your skills in script writing, editing and film making with the experienced author, actor and film maker Tristan Bancks.

Working collaboratively in small groups, you will develop your creative ideas into short scripts which will be weaved into short film creations. Using readily available technology, learn how to extend your script writing, story boarding and filmmaking whilst working in a fun, creative environment.

This workshop is for ages 11 – 14. All materials are supplied and participants will take home a USB with a copy of their work created on the day.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Caesar the War Dog review

A guest review of Caesar the War Dog (Stephen Dando-Collins) by my ten-year-old son, Hux:

Caesar the chocolate labrador doesn't look special but Corporal Ben Fulton sees something in him. He takes Caesar to Holsworthy army base where he is trained to sniff out explosives.

When Ben and Caesar are sent to Afghanistan to help the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) at Tarin Kowt they are sent to an FOB (Forward Operating Base) and get into a firefight with the Taliban and Caesar is lost.

Captured by the Taliban it's a long while before Caesar is reunited with his owner and he faces a lot of difficulties along the way.

I was bursting with excitement while I was reading this book and it was hard to put down. I recommend it to any young readers that love war stories and/or animals. I give Caesar 100 out of 10. 

These are other books in the Caesar series and hopefully there will be a book 4.


Check back next week for Hux's review of Caesar book 2, Operation Blue Dragon, and the following week for book three, Operation Pink Elephant. Here's his list of Best Books for 9-10 year-olds.

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