2015 Adventures in the World of Kids’ Books

2015 has been a HUGE year in the world of children’s and teen literature. It continues to be one of the strongest and most exciting corners of the book industry. Stores are expanding their kids’ and Young Adult sections, Storytime in libraries has parents queuing out the door, the #LoveOzYA movement has been a great success and more and more schools and libraries are running their own literary festivals.

Here are my highlights of the year. If you have blogged your own 2015 highlights from kids’ book world, please leave a link in comments below.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and I hope you read some incredible books over the holidays.

Disclaimer: My life is not all as fun and interesting as it looks in these images. I’ve chosen the good bits because I thought you’d like those best. But there are many, many boring moments and challenges, too.


I spent March on the road visiting schools everywhere,
bringing the books to life and hopefully inspiring kids to read and create.
And sometimes scaring them.
Hosting Sydney Writers Festival Primary School Days was a particularly fun week. Such energetic audiences and some brilliant authors on the bill. (Here, with Andy Griffiths and Jacqueline Harvey backstage at Sydney Theatre.)
At SWF I had the chance to interview author Anthony Horowitz onstage each day. His Alex Rider books are still the perfect weapon to inspire late primary and high schoolers (particularly boys, I would say) to pick up a book.
In the lead-up to the festival I interviewed James Patterson at Parramatta Riverside Theatre while illustrator Martin Chatterton drew caricatures of us. It was fascinating to gain intimate insight into the world’s bestselling author. The sun never sets on the Patterson empire.

Early in the year I worked with a bunch of talented folks to produce ‘The Great Escape’, a trailer for my book My Life & Other Massive Mistakes about a nursing home riot.


There were lots of opportunities to marry TV and books, which I love to do. It’s a great way to build the profile of children’s books and the importance of reading. The cool cats at the Daily Edition looked after me well.
I wouldn’t be an Australian children’s author if I didn’t get slimed at least annually.
ABC3 had a massive focus on kids’ and teen books this year, particularly in Book Week when this happened!
Who’d have thought that someone with my degree of musical talent could ever be on the Splendour bill? Anything is possible. Follow your dreams, kids. 😉
I’ve been working all year on stories for the next My Life book, out March 2016. ‘Dr Bent’ is a story inspired by my grandfather’s depiction of the runner I did from the dentist as a kid. This picture hung on my bedroom wall throughout my childhood.
I enjoyed meeting this giraffe.


And this frog.
And we were very sad to farewell this guy, Boston, but very happy to have known him.
Book Week gave me a chance to catch up with Gus Gordon, whose laugh-out-loud illustrations for My Life & Other Exploding Chickens are starting to come in.
Clearly I need to stop writing outdoors. I promise it’s not a spray tan.
(L-R Me, Rachel Spratt, James Patterson, Jacqueline Harvey, Martin Chatterton, Belinda Murrell.)
Excerpt from my book Two Wolves. Calligraphy by Claire Atkins who has been an enormous help and very inspiring to me this year.
Cheesy grin brought to you by the pride of standing onstage with talented creatives like Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood when Two Wolves won Honour Book in the CBCA Awards.
Being photo-bombed by Arts Minister Mitch Fifield and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards at Carriageworks in Sydney. 😉 Two Wolves was up for the kids’ prize, won by David Metzenthen and Michael Camilleri’s brilliant picture book One Minute’s Silence.

I’ve spent September to December finishing off the new My Life book and continuing to work on a new middle-grade ‘mortality fiction’ novel. I try to work outdoors when possible. My wife, Amber, and I recently shot this video on outdoor writing to coincide with the North American release of On the Run (Two Wolves).


And perhaps the greatest achievement of the year… Raising $45,000 to buy books for kids in Nepal in partnership with Australian and Hong Kong school students and our dynamic Room to Read Writer-Ambassador team. :)))


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