Best Australian Authors For Children’s Fiction: Since our eldest began attending prep two years ago, Book Week has become one of our favourite annual school events. Where else is there a legitimate occasion to go everywhere dressed up as your favourite character without the need for a costume party invite. I’ve just attended the children’s Book Week parade at their school in the capacity of ‘parent paparazzi’ and as usual, I loved every bit of it.
Book Week 2016’s Australian Theme
This year’s theme had been ‘Australian Authors’ and ‘Australia, Country’. The kids did so well this year echoing strong themes from animal and bush life to crime and mystery. This was evident in the large numbers of colourful furry animal onesies sighted from hopping bullfrogs and happy kangaroos to teeth-baring, teeth-snapping crocodiles. We were impressed with the brave kid dressed as notorious Ned Kelly armed with finger handguns as he ‘shot down’ onlookers at the parade growling beneath his foil-covered-cardboard-boxed helmet. Definitely more menacing (and entertaining) than the number of wildlife creatures that outnumbered him.
It was fun to watch the adults come out to play too. The Deputy Principal came decked out in full cow-girl semblance donning a very iconic Akubra ‘Man In Snowy River’ hat complete with bush gear and boots. Our classroom teachers, in their red, pink and green golliwog-wigs-masquerading-as-woolly-sheep in matching tee-shirts revealed they were big fans of Mem Fox’s bestselling title, ‘Where’s The Green Sheep?”
I’ll admit I found it a bigger challenge this year to decide on costumes with the Australian theme. However I thought we did well under the circumstances! This year my children went as ‘Queenie the Bantam’ (the wonderful Bob Graham) and ‘Hairy-nosed wombat’ (from one of Jackie French’s less well- known titles from her famous wombat books).
What I Learnt From Book Week 2016
On the whole,this entire exercise for Book Week 2016 has got me thinking about a couple of issues. One that stood out was how few titles most parents (even Aussie ones) could roll off their tongue regarding Australian-authored children’s literature. It seems, after speaking with many mums like myself, that we unanimously agree that our children mostly read foreign-authored titles in their genre, such as British or American authors.
How About Book Week At Work Instead Of Casual Friday?
The other issue is an idea. In my mind, it would be such a hoot if only the government would extend Book Week to work places. So instead of casual Friday, working adults could come to work dressed as their favourite book characters. I know, I know. It’s never going to happen. Few adults have the time to read these days, let alone want to promote reading. At best, most would think it’s pure frivolity, isn’t it. But I bet there’s a higher chance of a few adults preferring to come dressed as their favourite character from sports or from a movie or TV series. That’s something that quite clearly reveals the ways in which we’re choosing to spend our leisure time in Australia. Make that the world. Haven’t you heard?Research has shown that our biggest challenge today is helping our children cope with dealing with boredom! The youth today want to be entertained, not educated. I see that as a problem, don’t you?
The last issue is what this post is about: to find great Australian children’s literature to love. So, just where can we find the some of the best Australian authors for Children’s fiction?
Here’s our curated list to kick this thought off, if you haven’t become acquainted with these wonderful Aussie authors and titles yet. It’s a great time as any this Book Week season to get your children started on enjoying the best of what Book Week should be about: cultivating a lifelong passion for books and one of the most underrated pastimes known to humans today: reading, instead of swiping on that dreadful phone. You know I’m talking to someone here, don’t you.
Some Great Australian Authors To Love
Mem Fox is no stranger to Australians. Australia’s most highly regarded picture-book author, her first book, Possum Magic, is the best selling children’s book ever locally with sales of over three and a half million. ‘Time for Bed’ in the USA has sold over a million copies. Time for Bed just happens to be on Oprah’s list of the twenty best children’s books of all time.
I highly recommend ‘Reading Magic’ for parents on discovering how your child can learn to read before school and other ‘read aloud miracles’.
Below are just a handful of some of the best from Mem Fox:
Time for Bed
Where is The Green Sheep?
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
A Giraffe In The Bath
Two Little Monkeys
Judy Horacek is an extremely creative and gifted artist, She’s most famous for being an Australian cartoonist, artist, writer and children’s book creator. Her cartoons have been featured on many major Australian newspapers. Words are an important part of her cartoons, and often take precedence over the beautiful illustrations she draws. After a successful collaboration illustrating for Mem Fox, she began creating her own series of children’s picture books. She is a popular visiting artist for school children and also an after-dinner speaker for grown-up audiences.
Some picks from Judy Horacek:
The Story of Growl
These are my hands
If you can’t stand the heat
Yellow is my favourite colour
This & That
Bob Graham is a talented illustrator & writer who knows just how to capture the imagination of children. I’d think of him as our local Roald Dahl with quirky stories well-imbued with the right punch of humour and wit clever enough for kids to understand. Bob Graham began his early training by studying drawing and painting before moving to the UK. In 1969 he returned to Sydney where he began his illustrious career as both illustrator and designer. Graham won the 2002 Kate Greenaway Medal from the British librarians, recognising the year’s best-illustrated children’s book published in the UK, for the picture book Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child. We love that his books are full of heart and soul, usually with strong moral codes behind each well-thought, delightfully heartfelt story.
My favourite list of titles from the wonderful Bob Graham:
Queenie & The Bantam (our Book Week 2016 choice)
Spirit Of Hope
A Bus Called Heaven
Jack’s Little Party
April & Esme, Tooth Fairies
Monsieur Albert Rides To Glory
How The Sun Got To Coco’s House
Miracle On Separation Street
Brand New Baby
How To Heal A Broken Wing
Jackie French is perhaps most well-known as the author of ‘Diary of a Wombat’, a throughly successful project and collaboration between Jackie French and illustrator Bruce Whatley.
Their seamless partnership has produced Australia’s most famous children’s book (further made famous by Suri, daughter of Tom Cruise) chronicling the busy life of Mothball, a “wombat with attitude” who wrestles other unknown creatures, runs her own digging business and even trains her humans. It’s both a hilarious and fun read for younger children.
Other great Jackie French books:
Pete The Sheep
Diary of A Wombat
The Secret World Of Wombats
Diary of A Baby Wombat
Baby Wombat’s Week
Wombat Goes To School
The Hairy-nosed Wombats Move House (Our choice for Book Week 2016)
Andy Griffiths, or Andrew Noel “Andy” Griffiths, is an Australian children’s book author and comedy writer. He was touted to be our Australian version of JK Rowling in the genre of children’s literature. Judging by the soaring sales of his bestselling Treehouse series, this could well be true. Other than being a writer, he is also most notable for his Just! series, which was converted into an animated television series called ‘What’s with Andy’? His most well-known series has always been the ‘treehouse’ series of books spotted beneath the buried noses of most school-going children in Australia who do read.
It all began with the success of ‘The 13-Storey Treehouse’ that spurned a whole series of more and more added ‘storeys’. A snapshot of what the series entails would be one of the most enjoyable reads from the series—The 39-Storey Treehouse. In Griffith’s and illustrator Terry Denton’s 39-storey tree house, there are plenty of curious wonders such as a chocolate waterfall, a non-erupting active volcano, a baby dinosaur petting zoo and the Believe It Or Else museum. To date, the fame of the series has now risen up to the 78-storey Treehouse.
More on Griffith’s Treehouse Series:
Other Books By Andy Griffiths:
The Cat On The Mat Is Flat
Ed and Ted and Ted’s Dog Fred
Andy G, Terry D, The Brave Tea-Lady and The Evil Bee
Happy Book Week. Do yourself and the kids a favour and turn off that darned phone, won’t you. Read to them. They won’t be bored, I promise.