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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

AJ Betts : Top 10 Young Adult Books

AJ Betts is the author of the funny, heartbreaking and hopeful Zac & Mia, winner of the 2012 Text Prize and the 2014 Ethel Turner Prize in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards. Here, she contributes to my growing list of top ten book recommendations by well-known, award-winning and much-loved authors by sharing her top 10 Young Adult novels. (Actually, it's a top 11. Number 11 is complimentary. Enjoy!)

The 10pm Question (Kate De Goldi)

Ship Breaker (Paolo Bacigalupi)

Saving Francesca (Melina Marchetta)

6 Impossible Things (Fiona Wood)

The Diaries of Adrian Mole (Sue Townsend) 

Friday Brown (Vikki Wakefield)

Lord of the Flies (William Golding)

Losing It (Julia Lawrinson)

Tomorrow series (John Marsden)

Town (James Roy)

Of a Boy (Sonya Hartnett)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Belinda Murrell : Room to Read Writer-Ambassador

1. Out of all the charities in all the world, why did you decide to become a writer-ambassador for Room to Read?
One of the greatest gifts you can give a child is the gift of reading. It provides Joy, Escape, Knowledge. But most of all it is the basis of Education which provides a Future. Encouraging all children to read is the best way I can think of to change the world.

2. What do you most love about Room to Read’s work and approach to what they do?
Room to Read provides millions of children in third world countries with the gift of reading by providing books, schools and libraries. Room to Read has given millions of children the chance for an education and the chance to break the poverty cycle.

3. What makes you care about education and literacy for children in other parts of the world?
My children have been so lucky to grow up in Australia. They are probably amongst the best educated children on the planet. I hope to help bring some of those opportunities to other children who are not as lucky as my own kids.

4. What kinds of things have you done to show your support for Room to Read over the years?
I have participated in fundraisers for books, libraries and schools. I help to raise awareness of Room to Read’s work through social media, talking in schools, and by including Room to Read details on my website, Facebook pages and in my books.

5. What actions can schools and students perform to show their support?
Students can work together to organise movie nights, cake stalls, or gold coin donations. There are lots of ideas on the Room to Read website. One day of working together at your school, could make a world of difference to the futures of children in other parts of the world.

The 2014 World Change Challenge is a great way to engage kids in literacy, fun and social good. Watch the four-minute video showing how a single class raised $567 in one day, then hit the World Change Challenge page for a campaign pack and lots of fun fundraising ideas. –

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top Ten Young Adult Books : Scot Gardner

Scot Gardner is the author of one of my top ten books, The Dead I Know. Here, Scot shares his top ten Young Adult novels of all-time:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
Paper Towns – John Green 
Black Juice – Margo Lanagan 
I am Not A Serial Killer – Dan Wells 
My Life as an Alphabet – Barry Jonsberg 

The Road – Cormac McCarthy 
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee 
The Arrival – Shaun Tan 
The Book Thief – Markus Zusak 
Deadly, Unna? – Phillip Gwynne

Check back next wool for the Top Ten books of author A.J. Betts (Zac & Mia).


Monday, July 21, 2014

Students Helping Students

Josh Lorschy is a compassionate, hardworking, creative and high-achieving human. He is a 14-year-old actively engaged in changing the world in positive ways through Room to Read's Students Helping Students program. In term three, Josh is getting behind our $20,000 World Change Challenge campaign. Here, he shares some of the ways he is making a difference in the lives of people in the developing world.

Out of all the charities in all the world, why did you decide to become a supporter of Room to Read?
Josh: Room to Read really stood out to me because of their amazing work ethic. I was introduced to Room to Read through John Wood’s book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World. After reading this book, I could see that Room to Read really understands how to achieve global literacy through their various programs. I believe in what Room to Read does; everyone deserves the right to an education regardless of their gender, financial position or the country they live in.

Josh Lorschy's 'Girl Rising' Campaign
What do you most love about Room to Read’s approach?
Josh: Room to Read has a depth to their programs that goes beyond just donating books or building schools. They recognise that world change requires more than just dumping resources on the less fortunate. This extends into their teacher training programs, girls scholarships, social outreach workers and publishing books in local languages.

What makes you care about education and literacy for children in other parts of the world?
Josh: I’m privileged enough to go to a good school and think everyone should have the opportunity. I value my education, as it equips me with knowledge and opportunities. Room to Read allows and encourages everyone to take action, no matter how big or small. It’s exciting to know that I am able to do something as part of a movement that is having an impact on a global scale. I agree with Room to Read that education can and will change the world.

What kinds of things have you done to show your support for Room to Read over the years?
Josh: To show my support for Room to Read I’ve held a number of events. My family started by setting up an EverydayHero page to fundraise and hosted an information night. Following this, I spoke at my school and two primary schools regarding Room to Read and their amazing work. At these schools I organised various fundraisers including: Mothers' Day Stall, Book Swap, Read-a-thon, Handball Competition, Colouring-In Competition. In addition to this, I also held an awareness day at my school last year in lead up to International Day of the Girl (Oct 11). This involved a speech, showing a section of the Girl Rising film, then standing in the shape of a girl. This was filmed as part of an ABC documentary screened in the US.
Finally, I’ve used social media to spread the word online. I put together two animations which have accumulated over 6,500 views combined on Youtube. I also put together an attraction at our local shopping centre. We had a mobile animal farm come and people donated to get in. I also took part in a Food and Wine Festival my grandfather organised.

What actions can schools and students perform to show their support?
Josh: Room to Read makes it really easy for students and schools to participate in their programs. Anyone can take part in the Students Helping Students program, and there are plenty of useful resources and ideas to ensure your fundraiser is a success. Every action helps; every person and every dollar makes a difference. Information is power, so raising awareness is crucial. Whether you give a speech, play a video, hold a fundraiser within your class or school or for the community, it all helps.

Links to media articles and videos on Josh and his family's inspiring action:

2014 Room to Read World Change Challenge

Feeling inspired? Get active and raise a dollar or a thousand for our 2014 Room to Read World Change Challenge campaign to raise $20,000 for 20,000 books by October. Or donate now to our secure Everyday Hero page.

Next week, Room to Read writer-ambassador Belinda Murrell shares why she cares about nurturing literacy and education in some of the world's poorest countries.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Top 10 Children's & YA Books : Gabrielle Wang

This week, author Gabrielle Wang (The Wishbird, CBCA notable book 2014) contributes to the growing resource of kids' / Young Adult book recommendations on this site.

Gabrielle's list is full of engaging reads with layers of meaning and authentic storytelling. I love the Hoban, Dahl, Hartnett, Tan, Crowley and Alexie suggestions and I'm going to track down the others. Hope you can, too:

The Museum of Mary Child - Cassandra Golds

The Underneath - Kathi Appelt

The Mouse and his Child - Russell Hoban

The Best of Roald Dahl

Abyssinia - Ursula Dubosarksy

A Little Wanting Song - Cath Crowley (Graffitti Moon but the US ed, I didn't have the Aus edition)

Of A Boy - Sonya Hartnett

The Arrival - Shaun Tan

The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian - Sherman Alexie

Stardust - Neil Gaiman


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Deborah Abela : Room to Read Writer-Ambassador

Deborah Abela is a superstar of Australian children's literature. The author of Grimsdon, The Remarkable Secret of Aurelie Bonhoffen and Max Remy Superspy shares why she supports the amazing international literacy charity Room to Read and our 2015 World Change Challenge. It's an attempt to raise $40,000 to buy 40,000 books for children affected by Nepal's devastating earthquakes in April / May this year.

1. Out of all the charities in all the world, why did you decide to become a writer-ambassador for Room to Read?
There is nothing more important than educating kids. It creates understanding, tolerance, the chance to break cycles of poverty, to stop violence and an able kids to have a world of opportunities available to them.

2. What do you most love about Room to Read’s work and approach to what they do?
They don't lecture to developing countries but give them a helping hand to create and run their own schools, libraries and publishing programs in order to educate kids who may never have had the chance. Particularly girls, who have been denied education for years purely based on their gender, when they have so much to offer.

3. What makes you care about education and literacy for children in other parts of the world?
If we help to educate kids everywhere, we stop the spread of ignorance, of antiquated ideals, of practices that are simply enslaving. Educating girls especially helps to educate an entire village as they gain knowledge of business and then pass that chance of education to their children. I loved school and I want kids everywhere to have that chance to fall in love with reading and learning.

Image care of Room to Read.
4. What kinds of things have you done to show your support for Room to Read over the years?
I've danced in front of a whole school of boys (not very well), I've spoken to kids in Hong Kong wearing my pyjamas, I've seen tears in the eyes of teachers and librarians as I've shared stories about the success of Room to Read in changing kids' lives, I've led a reading where I asked a whole room to join in the cheers of John Wood's Zac the Yak as he carried that first load of books up a mountain for the very beginning of this global charity that has help almost nine million kids.

5. What actions can schools and students perform to show their support?
I love the idea of a dress-up day or dare-a-teacher. At our school we have a kitchen and a pizza oven, so a pizza afternoon would be great! (And popular.) Invite an author ambassador to your school to tell you how great Room to Read is, gold coin donation if things are a bit hectic, talent quests, dress as your favourite hero day. You could combine a regular school event with a Room to Read donation. For example, long distance running competition or morning school exercises combined with a Room to Read dance. Fetes could have a Room to Read stand with bobbing for apples or slime-a-teacher type activities. Or maybe a walk-a-thon with a percentage of the donations going to RTR. There are so many!

Check out the above news story of one schools fun idea to raise money for the 
World Change Challenge.

Next week, another well-known writer will be here to share why they support Room to Read. Meantime, don't be shy. Please support our 2015 Room to Read World Change Challenge.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Top 10 Children's Books : Gabrielle Tozer

Gabrielle Tozer is the author of Young Adult novel, The Internand the upcoming Faking It (Jan 2015). She is currently blogger-in-residence over at Inside a Dog. Here, she shares her top ten Children's and Young Adult books:

1. Tomorrow, When The War Began - John Marsden
2. Puppy Fat - Morris Gleitzman
3. Hating Alison Ashley - Robin Klein
4. Two Weeks With The Queen - Morris Gleitzman
5. Puberty Blues - Kathy Lette + Gabrielle Carey

6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
7. It's OK, I'm Wearing Really Big Knickers! - Louise Rennison
8. Living With Leanne - Margaret Clark
9. Harry Potter series - J.K.Rowling (sorry, cheated with this one!)
10. A Classic Treasury - Dr Seuss (cheated again - this contains five of his best!)

*Based on the bookshelf in my apartment (many of my other faves are packed up at my parents' place!)
**Top 10 may or may not change on a weekly basis***
***Also wanted to include The Hunger Games, The Fault In Our Stars, Looking For Alibrandi, Diary of a Wombat, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, George's Marvellous Medicine, Matilda, The BFG, Esio Trot, Fat Chance, Clifford The Big Red Dog... just to name a few.

Check back next week for another cracking Children's or Young Adult author's top 10 books.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Search for a Young Writer!


Want to be a published writer? Or know a talented 10-14-year-old who does? Read on.

UPDATE: My 2014 Young Writer Has Been Found! 
But I'll be staging the search again in 2015, so check back into the site, sign up for my free Kids' Book eNews or follow on Twitter,  Facebook or Instagram to stay up-to-date on the 2015 competition.

My new book, My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrongfeatures a short story, Morris, by 13 year-old writer Raph Atkins. (Raph also stars in the book trailer.)

I’m now searching for another young writer, aged 10-14 (on 22 Aug 2014) with a short story of less than 1000 words to publish in my next My Life book due out with Random House Australia in early 2015. The story has to be weird, funny and maybe a bit gross. You should read some My Life stories before you enter, especially Raph’s Morris story.

The best story submitted will win $100 worth of books from Random House Australia plus four signed copies of My Life book 3. Then, if we feel it’s a perfect fit for the book, you’ll also get the chance to work with a professional editor (and me) and have your story published.

Remember, try to get your story as polished as it can possibly be before you send it in. Have a teacher or parent read over it and remember to rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until your story is a shining jewel. Competition closes 22 August 2014 (end of Children's Book Week)!

Email your entry to 

Or post your story to Tom at:

My Life & Other Short Stories Comp
C/O Tom Weekly
PO Box
377 Billinudgel
NSW 2483

You need to get a parent's permission to enter your story and don't forget to check out the full terms and conditions. (They are an amazing read and I know you'll lap up every word.)

Stuck for ideas? Can't get your story started? Try brainstorming and gathering images, video, music and maps using my Story Scrapbook transmedia brainstorming tool ( ) 
or check out the story inspiration on my Create page:
and download my writing workshop handouts, loaded with tips to make your story shine.

Good luck! Can't wait to get reading.



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Best Australian Young Adult Books : Michael Gerard Bauer

Looking for a brilliant book? Michael Gerard Bauer, one of Australia's best-loved and most talented authors of Children's and Young Adult fiction (Ishmael series and the all-new Derek 'Danger' Dale series), shares 20 of his favourite teen / YA books by Australian authors. They are in no particular order apart from, perhaps, he says, number one.

The Messenger - Markus Zusak (I could have also include Fighting Reuben Wolfe and The Underdog.)
Dust - Christine Bongers
The Dead I Know - Scot Gardner
Beatle Meets Destiny - Gabrielle Williams
The Shiny Guys - Doug MacLeod
Are You Seeing Me - Darren Groth
Saving Francesca - Melina Marchetta
Queen Kat, Carmel and St Jude get a Life - Maureen McCarthy
How to Make a Bird - Martine Murray
A Small Free Kiss in the Dark - Glenda Millard

Michael Gerard Bauer's book Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel, which should also be in his top 20, although that would be weird.
Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley
The First Third - Will Kostakis
By The River - Steven Herrick
Black Juice - Margo Lanagan
Jasper Jones - Craig Silvey
Feeling Sorry for Celia - Jaclyn Moriarty
One Foot Wrong - Sofie Laguna
One Whole and Perfect Day - Judith Clarke
The Whole Business with Kiffo and the Pitbull - Barry Jonsberg
Big River Little Fish - Belinda Jeffrey

Michael says: 'Should have also include Deadly Unna by Phillip Gwynne.

I'm building a resource of Children's and Young Adult book suggestions here on my site. Every week, a new author, illustrator, bookseller, publisher or person in the know will share their top reads. Next it's The Intern author Gabrielle Tozer's top ten.

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