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

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Somerset Celebration of Literature 2014

For three days each year, Children's and Young Adult books become rock 'n' roll, at the Somerset Celebration of Literature. Somerset College on Queensland's Gold Coast has just wrapped it's 21st Celebration with more than 15,000 ticket sales.

I have been lucky enough to speak at the fest twice before but this year's was more impressive than ever with packed sessions, fairy-lit night-time parties and amazing authors, staff, student helpers and parent volunteers. We stayed in a beautiful hotel and, most importantly, we ate Dippin' Dots ice cream – that's what keeps the peeps coming back year after year.

Here's my experience of Somerset 2014 in pics.

With author Jacquie Harvey at the Prologue Party on opening night.
At the Prologue Party, I launched the 2014 Room to Read World Change Challenge,
our bid to raise $20,000 for 20,000 books for kids in the developing world.
Adele from the State Library of Victoria's dynamic Centre for Youth Literature
announced the 2014 Inky Awards long list.
I ran a Story Scrapbook workshop which produced some fun creative results. The Web-based version of the tool will launch in the next couple of months.

In another session, the inmates turned on me, chanting, 'Slime him! Slime him!' And slime me they did.

International Slime-an-Author Day.
Don and Hayley were my student guides and constant companions for the fest.
I voted them employees of the year and have requested that they receive large cash payments
and bonus marks from the school. No word as yet.
I met lots of new authors and picked up lots of great books.
I'm almost done with 'All I Ever Wanted' - one of the best Young Adult books I've read.
With Jacquie Harvey, Sarana Behan from Random House, illustrator Tony Flowers and madman-author Nick Falk.
Tony Flowers' Literary Dinner tablecloth decorations.
I haven't eaten very many of my books before.
But this one was a cake, so I devoured it with the people below.
(L-R) Authors & illustrators Nick Falk, Jess Shirvington, Andrew Weldon, Tony Flowers, Me and Gabrielle Wang.
It was the most delicious book any of us had ever eaten. 
And, of course, Dippin' Dots... Sure, kids like the books but they LOVE Dippin' Dots. So, too, the authors.

Sadly, no Dots were available to be photographed. I had eaten them.

I wound down after the festival with a quiet spot of child-chucking (below). He's mine, so I think it's legal. And he asked me to do it again immediately after he surfaced. And again. And again.

Somerset is a school with a focus on service and on bringing literature to as wide an audience as possible, with some students travelling many hours by bus to attend. The festival is an impressive feat, executed with a sense of joy, camaraderie and kindness. A big thank you to all who contributed but, in particular, to Andrea Lewis and Karen Mackie who make the festival happen year after year. I look forward to attending the 42nd Somerset Celebration in 21 years' time (hoping they'll open up ticket sales to local nursing homes).

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Room to Read World Change Challenge 2014

Our 2014 goal has now been reached! Thank you to everyone who helped us raise $20,000 to buy 20,000 local language books for kids in the developing world. Here's how we did it and I hope you'll join us again for a bigger, hairier goal in 2015.

Help us reach our 2014 goal of $20,000 for 20,000 local language books for kids in the developing world.

In 2014 I want to, once again, harness the positivity, energy and crazy ideas of Australian school students to give children in the developing world access to books in their own language.

The Project:
2014 World Change Challenge

Our Goal:
$20,000 for 20,000 books by 31 October, 2014

How to Get Involved: 
Students, classes and schools all over Australia are encouraged to create their own wild and wonderful challenges to help raise money towards our goal.
Classes and Schools can download our Campaign Pack to get started.
and Individuals, Students and Businesses can donate securely via our Everyday Hero page.

For the class or group that raises the most money, Random House Australia will fly me to your school to give a free author talk or writing workshop.
Second prize is $250 worth of books from Random House.
More prizes announced soon!

Post a Comment or Question Below. We'd Love You to Share Your Challenge Ideas.

Watch the 3-minute video above to get ideas for your own World Change Challenge.

Part of the 600-strong crowd during the launch of the 2014 Room to Read World Change Challenge at Somerset
Celebration of Literature.
Popular Children's & Young Adult Authors Tell Why They Support Room to Read:
* Deborah Abela (Author Grimsdon, Max Remy Superspy)
* Susanne Gervay (I Am Jack

The World Change Challenge was founded in 2012 in partnership with Stubbies Schoolwear 
and resulted in the building of this school library in Siem Reap Cambodia

World Change Starts With Educated Children.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beaconsfield Festival of Golden Words

Over the weekend I attended the inaugural Beaconsfield Festival of Golden Words in Tasmania's Tamar Valley. Organised by author Stephen Dando-Collins, the festival was a hit with locals and lots of fun for visiting authors. There were packed marquees for panels, enthusiastic audiences for school sessions and the fest provided a valuable cultural injection to Northern Tasmania.

Here are some pics (by Amber Melody).

Authors Sherryl Clark and Kate Gordon entertain kids at Beaconsfield Primary School.

Tasmanian Lian Tanner, author of The Keepers series, told jaw-dropping tales of Antarctica. 
I chatted with author Nikki Gemmel about writing books for kids and teens.

And I had fun brainstorming ideas for my new short story Cranky Dad Syndrome with kids.

Andy Griffiths took 'Bad Mummy' and 'Bad Daddy' for a spin and told more tales from the 39-Storey Treehouse.

I shared a panel, 'The Book That Changed My Life' with Rachel Edwards,
Richard Fidler and Phillip Nitschke.

If you're an author or booklover in the neighbourhood next March, I highly recommend getting along to Beaconsfield Festival of Goilden Words 2.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


** Thanks to everyone who contributed their CDS ideas below. The story and your names are in My Life & Other Massive Mistakes in book stores 2 March or you can pre-order here:

I'm writing a new short story for the third My Life book and I want kids everywhere to help me write it. Leave a comment below with your idea for the story and, if your idea makes it in, I'll thank you in the back of the book.

It's a story about a debilitating disease that fathers have suffered from for centuries, but most have suffered in silence. It’s called CDS – Cranky Dad Syndrome. 

Jack's dad suffers from a particularly bad case of it. He's been going to anger management classes and he thinks he's doing pretty well. So, one Saturday morning, Jack and Tom are a bit bored and they decide to give him a little exam, just to test how well he can cope under pressure.

My question to you is... What would you do to wind your father up and make him angry in a test like this? Here's a brainstorm from yesterday's session at St Paul's Grammar School...

Leave your idea below as a blog comment (Click 'Post a Comment'), include your first name and, if I include your idea, your name will be in the book (out April 2015)!
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