Australian Author of Children’s Books and Teen Books: April 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

My Life & Other Exploding Chickens Review

Great review in ReadPlus that I wanted to share. It's for my new children's book with illustrator Gus Gordon, My Life & Other Exploding Chickens.

(Age 9+) Highly recommended. My Life and Other Exploding Chickens is about the life of our main character, Tom Weekly, and is written from his viewpoint. Tom recounts hilarious stories of his life, from a crazy dentist visit to funny dot points about his cat. We find out about the crazy girl who has a crush on Tom as well as the girl he is crushing on. Read about Tom's friend who had a knitting needle stuck in her bum cheek and how Tom fears the library ninjas! 

This is a hilarious novel aimed at and highly recommended for boys aged 9+. Each chapter is a short story in itself so even the most reluctant readers will find themselves engaged in each descriptive and 'giggle' moment! There are even a few gross moments - like the nits that grow and grow because of tomato sauce. What child won't like to read about that?

Review by Kylie Kempster


Thursday, April 21, 2016


The 2016 Room to Read World Change Challenge is now over. Check out the amazing list of TOP FUNDRAISING SCHOOLS. Details of the 2017 World Change Challenge will be announced soon. Meanwhile, get in touch if you'd like to be involved and help Australian authors work with students to provide books and educational opportunities to kids in the developing world.

The 2016 Challenge

In 2016 join forces with Room to Read's stellar team of writer ambassadors to help fund literacy programs for children in the world's poorest countries.

Since 2012 school students in Australia have raised tens of thousands of dollars for Room to Read, funding LIBRARIES and local language children’s BOOKS in Cambodia, Nepal and eight other countries. This year our team of writer ambassadors invites you to join them as Leaders for Literacy.

Could your school community take Leadership for Literacy to ensure that children in low-income countries have the foundation skills they need to break the cycle of poverty?

Start by watching the video we created below, showing how easy it is to raise $500 at school in a single day!

How to get involved

Students, teachers, classes and schools all over Australia are encouraged to take Leadership for Literacy by creating their own wild and wonderful challenges to help raise money for Room to Read's global literacy programs.

Star of the Sea Catholic School in Gladstone QLD, Somerset College on the Gold Coast and Adelaide's Rosary School were our biggest fundraisers last year. But some kids donated their pocket money. Every dollar makes a big difference, putting another book into the hands of a child who otherwise might go without. Check out all the amazing fundraisers on our 2015 Everyday Hero Wonderwall.

FUNdraising Ideas

Book Swaps at school are also lots of fun. Children can swap their pre-loved books with other kids and, for just $1 per book, everyone walks away with a new story to read, and Room to Read can fund a local language book for a child in Nepal or one of its other program countries.

School Readathon / Drop Everything and Read: Set your own sponsored reading challenge!

Sponsored Silence where teachers and parents sponsor their noisiest kids to be quiet for a whole hour or even a whole day.

Book Fair: Lots of schools donate a portion of their school book-fair profits to the World Change Challenge.

Embarrass Your Teacher: Sponsor teachers to come to school dressed in super-embarrassing outfits.

Lattes for Literacy: Have a school coffee morning to make all those poor, caffeine-starved parents happy and donate the profits to the World Change Challenge.

School Sponge Throw: Nareena Hills Public School in NSW ran a profitable school sponge throw where students get revenge on their teachers for all that homework!

get started today

★  Register your interest the World Change Challenge by emailing your questions and ideas to Room to Read's wonderful Jennie Orchard.
★ Download the LEADERSHIP FOR LITERACY educator's notes here
★  Make a donation to our  2016 World Change Challenge | Everyday Hero page here.
★  Raise awareness and engage your community. Tell your friends and share the links via social media. Leave a comment below or, very soon, Like our World Change Challenge Facebook page and stay up-to-date!



Children’s Book Week - Saturday 20th to Friday 26th August
International Literacy Day - Thursday 8th September
International Day of the Girl Child - Tuesday 11th October 

Around 5000 students at the 2015 Sydney Writers Festival watched the World Change Challenge video.

Fellow writer ambassador Jacqueline Harvey and I were lucky enough to witness their extraordinary enthusiasm.


Watch this space. Prizes, including book packs from major publishers announced very soon.

Room to Read Ambassadors Supporting the 2016 World Change Challenge Include Some of Australia's Best-Loved Authors and Illustrators

Deborah Abela, Tristan Bancks, Maxine Beneba-Clarke, Jesse Blackadder, Sarah Brennan, Sarah Davis, James Foley, Kate Forsyth, Susanne Gervay, Gus Gordon, Jacqueline Harvey, Libby Hathorn, John Larkin, Frané Lessac, Melina Marchetta, Sophie Masson, Belinda Murrell, Oliver Phommavanh, Alice Pung, Sally Rippin and Dianne Wolfer.

Room to Read co-founder John Wood with Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai.

‘Let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons ... One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.'

- Malala

why support room to read?

Room to Read is an innovative global non–profit which seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in Asia and Africa by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. Since it was founded in 2000, Room to Read has:

• Developed and launched literacy programs in 10 countries in Asia and Africa.

• Constructed almost 2000 schools.

• Established over 18,000 libraries.

• Published over 1200 original children’s books in 27 local languages.

• Launched literacy programs in 10 countries in Asia and Africa.

• Supported more than 31,000 girls through its Girls’ Education Program.

By the end of 2015, Room to Read had impacted 10 MILLION CHILDREN. And yet there are still 781 million illiterate people in the world, two thirds of them women and children.

Room to Read believes that World Change Starts with Educated Children®.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Children's Book Week 2016

The Australian Children's Book Week theme for 2016 is 'Australia! Story Country'. Children's Book Week runs from 20-26 August 2016. 

Here are 10 ideas and links to help make it the best Book Week ever:

1) Discover books that will get kids fired up about reading – the 2016 CBCA Awards Notables List and the REAL Awards (YABBA, KOALA and CROC) children's choice shortlist. (I have been lucky enough to have My Life & Other Massive Mistakes nominated in the REALs this year.)

2) Join our 2016 Room to Read World Change Challenge and help change the world by educating children in the world's poorest countries. Schools can win book packs from all the major publishers. We have previously raised over $90,000 to buy books, build libraries and educate girls in the developing world.

3) Enter the My Life Book Trailer Competition. Make a short video inspired by my new book My Life & Other Exploding Chickens for the chance to win $500 cash for the filmmaker and $500 worth of books for your school. :))) Check out my recent post on How to Make a Book Trailer and send in your entries!

4) Here are some Book Week activity ideas on the Children's Book Council of Australia site, on the Teacher-Librarians' Children's Book Week wiki and on the brilliant Book Chook blog.

5) You could book an author (or harass your teacher-librarian to book an author) to speak at your school. Here's a list of agencies. Most authors are already booked for Book Week but if your celebration falls outside the official Book Week dates, you might get lucky.

6) Dress as a Library Ninja for the Book Week book parade, inspired by my story 'Fungus the Bogeyman' in My Life & Other Exploding Chickens (and Gus Gordon's most excellent illustration above). It's about the time I had a book overdue from the public library for five years as a child and was arrested by a gang of Ninja Librarians when I attempted to return it. (Totally true.)

7) Use my Story Scrapbook transmedia brainstorming tool to find bookish inspiration, explore videos, images and music based on the theme, 'Australia! Story Country' or dream up a new story of your own.

8) Jump-start writing and creativity. Try some activities in the My Life& Other Stuff I Made Up teachers' kit or on my CREATE page. And find lots of visual / aural creative ideas in the Two Wolves / On the Run teaching materials.

9) Help me write a new Nit Boy story for the next My Life book and get your name / your class in the back of the book!

10) Connect with me on FACEBOOK, TWITTER , INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST and YOUTUBE. Let's talk stories, create things and share the best books we've ever read.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate review

Review of Katherine Applegate's Crenshaw by guest reviewer Ella Sharpe, bookseller at The Younger Sun Children's Bookshop in Melbourne.

Ten-year-old Jackson has perfected the art of tricking his body into thinking it’s not hungry. He and his little sister Robin are only allowed to eat their cereal (no milk) if they throw it into the baseball cap waaaaaaay across the room (the harder it is to get in, the longer it takes to eat, the less you realise you are hungry). Life has always been tough for Jackson’s family, but with the reappearance of his imaginary friend Crenshaw, a six-foot, bubble-bath-taking, talking cat, Jackson knows life is about to get a whole lot worse. The landlord is constantly knocking on the door, Cheerios are for breakfast, lunch and dinner and Jackson’s worried that they’re going to have to ‘camp’ in their minivan again.

Beautifully written, this book is a heartbreaking story about a child trying to understand adult problems so that he can help fix them. Crenshaw is equal parts tragic and uplifting, and of course there is comic relief in the form of a six-foot, bubble-bath-taking, talking cat. From the acclaimed author of The One and Only Ivan, this book is perfect for lovers of realism and the triumph of the human spirit.

Recommended for ages 8 and up.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

6 Reasons You Should Not Read the 'My Life' Books

I'm pleased to present this guest post by the star of the My Life books, Tom Weekly. Thanks Tom.

6 Reasons You Should Not Read the My Life Books

1. They’re full of dum stuff.

2. They tell more stories about Stella Holling, the girl who’s always trying to kiss me – and kissing girls is weird and sick and wrong.

Illustrations by Gus Gordon.

3. They feature freaky body parts. (I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to write stories about my freaky four-toed foot, my big fat hairy birthmark and my appendix being ripped out of my body, but I did.)

4. Reading is good for you. Teachers and parents love it when you read, because it makes you smart, and then you’ll get a good job and make lots of money and become famous and contribute to society. Which means that, when you read, parents and teachers are winning. Which means that you are losing, so you should not read in order to become more dum, and then you win. Ha!

5. My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up has a story about my nan and Jack’s nan fighting in a back-alley brawl. It has the second-most disgusting end to a story in the history of children’s literature. (The grossest is the story about Brent Bunder’s sore in My Life & Other Stuff That Went Wrong.)

6. You should be reading nourishing stuff, like Dickens and Shakespeare and Emily Brontë, not the ravings of a dum kid like me, who can’t even spell ‘dum’.

NB: There are several more reasons not to read the My Life books in the back of My Life & Other Exploding Chickens but I don't recommend you read them, because that would involve reading a My Life book. (See points 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 above.)

Yours sincerely,

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