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Inside the Australian book industry

Who from Australia is at Bologna? Come and say hello at the Australian Stand party

In this Bologna Book Fair issue of Think Australian, we introduce you to Nicola Robinson, who will be attending Bologna for the first time, representing the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. See our profile to learn about the foundation’s publishing work and titles. Robinson is among 13 publisher representatives who will be at the fair as part of the Australian Publishers Association (APA) Australian Collective Stand, which will be managed by APA events manager Melissa Whitwell.

The 13 publishers appearing on the Australian Collective Stand are Allen & Unwin, Berbay Publishing, CSIRO Publishing, EK Books (Exisle Publishing), Five Mile, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, Magabala Books, MidnightSun, Rockpool Publishing, Scribble, UQP, and Windy Hollow Books.

In addition, look out for Hawkeye Publishing, UWA Publishing, National Library of Australia Publishing and Narratives of Nature on the APA Virtual Stand, and representatives of the following Australian publishers also attending Bologna this year: Affirm Press, Brolly Publishing, Lake Press, Penguin Random House, Scholastic and Walker Books, as well as agents from Annabel Barker Agency and Bold Type Agency. There will also be a number of Australian creators at the fair this year.

The Australian Stand is located at Hall 25, A87, and the Australian Stand Party will be held on Tuesday 9 April from 5pm to 6pm.

In the meantime, you can read up on the latest Australian children’s and YA bestsellers, latest acquisitions, the titles publishers will be pitching in picture books, junior and middle-grade fiction, YA and children’s nonfiction, recent local award winners, our latest market overview and the titles Australian children’s book authors recommend. We also introduce you to award-winning YA author and now rights manager in training Lisa Fuller.

Have a wonderful time at the fair!

—The Books+Publishing team.

Think Australian is produced by Books+Publishing with support from the Australian Publishers Association and the Australian Government through Creative Australia.

Australian Collective Stand banner image

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2023 Australian market overview

Overall, the book market was down in Australia in 2023 by 2.1% in value and 1.7% in volume, according to figures from Nielsen BookData’s BookScan service. However, sales in 2023 were up both by value and volume when compared to 2021 figures, and were boosted by strong Christmas sales.

Nielsen’s 2023 snapshot, covering 1 January to 30 December 2023, shows the Australian book market in 2023 was worth $1.33 billion in value, down from $1.4 billion in 2022, while 2023 sales by volume were at 69.8 million units, down from 70.9 million. Nielsen’s snapshot shows the value of adult fiction grew by 5% to represent 29% of the market, while adult nonfiction declined by 5% and represents 42% of the market. Children’s, which represents 29% of the market, fell by 4.4% compared to 2022.

While the children’s category dropped for 2023, however, this dip came after a big boost due to the pandemic and was likely a correction after the category grew 7.7% in 2022.

The top three $1 million-plus categories by value growth in 2023 were language and linguistics (up 18% to $4.1 million); atlases, maps and travel (up 14% to $19.4 million); and genre fiction (up 14% to $225.9 million).

Colleen Hoover took out the top spot as the highest selling author by value, with 878,000 books sold, worth $13.4 million; while RecipeTin Eats: Dinner (Nagi Maehashi, Macmillan) was the highest selling title by value, having sold 254,000 copies, worth $6.6 million.

Logo for the Bologna Prize

Australian publishers nominated for Bologna Prize

Australian publishers Affirm Press, Fremantle Press and Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing have been shortlisted for this year’s Bologna Prize for the Best Children’s Publisher of the Year in the Oceania category. Affirm has been shortlisted for the third year in a row.

The winner of the 2023 prize in the Oceania category was Australian First Nations publisher Magabala Books.

The winners will be announced at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) to be held 8–11 April.

Author photograph of Emily Rodda

Aus publishers' latest acquisitions 

Among the latest children’s and YA acquisitions by Australian publishers:


Allen & Unwin (A&U) has acquired ANZ rights to Landovel, a three-part junior fantasy adventure story from Emily Rodda. Publisher Eva Mills described the work as ‘compulsive and engaging’ and ‘brilliantly plotted with multiple twists’. A&U stated that the planned publication of the three parts in a single package is ‘unprecedented’. A&U plans to publish the package in October 2024. 

Larrikin House has acquired world rights to a junior fiction text titled Camp Spook: Attack of the Aliants!, co-authored by Pip Harry and Kate Foster. In this book, 10-year-old Julia is underwhelmed by the opportunity to attend ‘the (ridiculously named) Sensational Sport Superstars of the Future Camp’, while Jimmy, also 10 years old, has left his small town and his single mum in country Victoria to be at the camp, supported by a fundraiser from his school community. Also in this story: ‘Earthquakes, kid robots, underground tunnels and alien ants!’ 

Larrikin House has also acquired world rights to a junior fiction title by author and illustrator Jules Faber and Larrikin publicist Dani Vee, titled How Not To…. Described by the publisher as ‘a comic and fun book with a strong theme of rebels and trailblazers’, How Not To… will be written by Vee and illustrated by Faber. 

Also in news from Larrikin House, the publisher has acquired world rights to two junior fantasy fiction series from Louise Park and collaborators—the Boy vs Beast series (co-written with Susannah McFarlane, writing as Mac Park), which Larrikin will re-release, and the forthcoming Prank Wars series (co-written with Mo Johnson). 

UWAP has acquired ANZ rights to a four-book junior fiction series, Ella and the Frogs, from Cassy Polimeni. The forthcoming series is for early readers aged five to eight years, ‘exploring themes of friendship and animal protection/conservation’, with each story opening with ‘a frog-related fact that mirrors a theme in Ella’s life’. Ella and the Amazing Frog Orchestra, the first book in the series, introduces Ella, who ‘has moved house and is missing her old life, until she discovers a frog pond in the backyard and bonds with her new classmate, Mai, over the school frog bog’. Faced with a development project that threatens the pond, the new friends have to work together ‘to save the frogs before it’s too late’. UWAP plans to publish Ella and the Amazing Frog Orchestra in July 2024, with subsequent books in the series due to be published between 2024 and 2026. 

Middle grade

Allen & Unwin (A&U) has acquired ANZ rights to Thunderhead, a debut illustrated middle-grade novel by picture book author and illustrator Sophie Beer, via Annabel Barker at Annabel Barker Agency. Narrated by the titular Thunderhead, the novel is ‘about a music-obsessed kid, the squirmy awkwardness of early teen life and the challenge of living with illness and loss—beautifully told with humour, music, art and joy’, said A&U. ‘Drawing on her own personal experiences, Sophie Beer delivers an indelible illustrated novel, immediately engaging, fresh, funny, warm, sad, utterly authentic and entirely unputdownable.’

Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (HGCP) has acquired world rights (ex North America) to The Midwatch, a middle-grade novel from author and illustrator Judith Rossell, via Annabel Barker of Annabel Barker Agency. In this forthcoming novel, which will be Rossell’s first novel publication in six years, protagonist Maggie Fishbone is banished to the Midwatch Institute for Orphans, Runaways and Unwanted Girls, where ‘she soon discovers there’s more to Midwatch than meets the eye.’ ‘The city shimmers with jewels and secrets, and when a woman goes missing, Maggie is thrust into an adventure that takes her deep underground, high above the clouds and face to face with danger itself.’ HGCP plans to release The Midwatch in October, with ‘a major trade and consumer campaign’. 

HarperCollins has acquired world rights to Shellsville, a duology for early middle-grade readers by Katherine Collette, via Danielle Binks and Jacinta di Mase of Jacinta di Mase Management. Described by Binks as a ‘humorous contemporary lower-end middle-grade duology’ for readers aged 8+, Shellsville will be ‘the first foray into KidLit for beloved adult women’s fiction author Katherine Collette, who will also be illustrating the series’. Binks said that the first book is ‘tentatively scheduled’ for October 2024, and HarperCollins plans to release the second book in 2025. 

Christmas Press has acquired world rights to The Lastling (April 2025), a science fiction novel for upper middle-grade readers by Victor Kelleher, via Margaret Connolly of Margaret Connolly and Associates. To be illustrated by Lorena Carrington, the book follows Guido, an Android whose job it is to guide humans through the Wilderness Park, the last remaining tract of unspoiled country, and Verne, a human girl and thief working in the city, in what Christmas Press publishing director Sophie Masson said is ‘both an extraordinary adventure set in a disturbing future, and also a timely and thought-provoking exploration of what it really means to be human’.

YA and graphic novels

Larrikin House has acquired world rights to two graphic novels set for release in 2024. One title is Ultra Violet by Cristy Burne, illustrated by Rebel Challenger, which ‘follows Violet, a science genius, and her friends, including a talking hermit crab, through a science POOnami and an alien invasion’. The second graphic novel is Urban Legend Hunters by performance poet Joel McKerrow and Wayne Bryant, which is about ‘something sinister stirring in the town of Shadow Grove’—a situation that would call for professional monster hunters (if there were any to call). 

Finally, Affirm Press has acquired world rights to Max, a coming-of-age novel by Avi Duckor-Jones, via Jane Novak Literary Agency. The titular protagonist is ‘grappling with questions about his birth parents and his sexuality’, and struggling with the feeling that he is somehow flawed. As the end of high school approaches, an incident at a party propels Max into exploring these questions of identity, origins, and love. 


Picture books being pitched at Bologna

First Nations publisher Magabala, winner of the 2023 Bologna Prize for the Oceania region, is excited: ‘The release of a book by bestselling and award-winning author Gregg Dreise is always an event, so this Bologna Book Fair we’re excited to be presenting a whole new picture book series by Gregg … called Scales and Tales.’ Dreise is a proud descendant of the Goomelroi/Kamilaroi and Euahlayi people of southwest Queensland and north-west New South Wales; the first title in the new series is Super Snake, ‘a morality tale, set in the context of a Creation story’ that tells of the Rainbow Serpent and is filled with Dreise’s much-loved colourful paintings. ‘Conveyed with heart and humour, Super Snake will be a family favourite,’ says the publisher. Also from Magabala, look out for the board book I Can Count, which has text by one of Australia’s best-known writers, Sally Morgan, who belongs to the Palyku people, and is illustrated by the talented Jingalu, a Bagawa woman. ‘Another testament to Sally Morgan’s advocacy for early literacy learning, I Can Count is a fun and interactive way for families and young readers to learn to count together. With a soaring sun, coral clouds, purple frogs, pink snakes, lime birds, blue dragonflies, peach butterflies, yellow possums, orange owls and green stars, this is a visual feast for young eyes. Jingalu’s unique artwork is quirky, contemporary and vibrant—emphasising fun in learning.’

From Allen & Unwin (A&U) comes South with the Seabirds by Jess McGeachin (September 2024), in which award-winning creator McGeachin ‘beautifully captures the inspiring true story of the first four female scientists to join an Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition to sub-Antarctica where they’re greeted by giant seabirds, snorting seals and penguins as far as the eye could see’; How to Measure the Ocean by Inda Ahmad Zahri (May 2024), a ‘lyrical exploration of the beauty of maths and the wonders of the ocean, sparking curiosity while introducing early maths concepts along the way’; and Ethel the Penguin by Ursula Dubosarsky (illus by Christopher Nielsen, October 2024), a ‘funny and exuberant story about the vicarious joy of a wild and unruly friend from two of Australia’s bestselling and award-winning creators’.

From Hachette, Davina Bell’s Cheeky Toddler Alphabet is a celebration of the chaos ‘but also the tenderness’ of the toddler years—‘that bittersweet window of domestic life when each day is a magical bun fight’; George the Wizard by AFL player, television presenter and now author Tony Armstrong is ‘all about self-acceptance, celebrating our differences and finding friends in life who accept you as you are’; and Grandmother from the East, Grandmother from the West is a ‘beautiful, gentle book about the way our grandparents’ identities can shape our own’, from debut Chinese-Australian writer Jacinta Liu.

What Stars Are For by Margeaux Davis is ‘a moving story about curiosity, overcoming your fears and finding friendship’, according to the publisher, Affirm Press. Also from the same publisher is Reading to Baby by award winners Margaret Wild and Hannah Sommerville: a story to remind us of the wonder and magic of reading, featuring Dora, who has doting big brothers who play with her, look after her, and guide her as she grows—but Peter reads to her, which turns out to be the greatest gift of all. Fairy Beach by Sheila Knaggs and Jennifer Falkner, also from Affirm, is a ‘truly unique fairy story and a whimsical celebration of summer beach days, shown through dazzling artwork’.

In the ‘heartwarming and emotive picture book’ The Truck Cat from Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (HGCP), award-winning artist Danny Snell and author Deborah Frenkel explore the connections between cats and people, immigration, and the concept of home, through the journey of ginger cat Tinka. Sandhya Parappukkaran and Michelle Pereira have created ‘a beautiful story’ exploring language attrition and the special relationship between grandparents and grandchildren in Words That Taste Like Home (also HGCP), while Mama Bear and Me (also HGCP) is a loving tribute to real-life mama bears from Sophie Beer, the bestselling author of Love Makes a Family and Kindness Makes Us Strong.

Nova’s Missing Masterpiece (Brooke Graham & Robin Tatlow-Lord, Exisle) is a picture book that helps children recognise the body signals that indicate they’re starting to feel frustrated or angry, and features evidence-based strategies to help calm down. It follows Nova, who realises the artwork she created for her dad’s birthday present is missing; she must calm herself down to find it in time. In Two Rabbits (Larissa Ferenchuk & Prue Pittock), also from Exisle, two little rabbits have had an argument. As they go their separate ways into the night, the wind whispers around them to remind them of their sharp words. Will they be able to come back together and find a way to save their friendship? The book ‘uses repetition in the wording, showing that the rabbits are both on a similar emotional journey even though their physical journey takes them to different places,’ according to the publisher. The Real Cowgirl (Isabelle Duff & Susannah Crispe, also Exisle) is a ‘heartwarming story’ about friendship. It follows Sal, who feels like a cowgirl–brave, smart and wild–when she rides her pony, but is isolated and anxious at school. It’s pitched for parents, caregivers and teachers as a conversation-starter with kids about scary feelings.

Walker Books Australia’s picture book titles include Good Hair (Yvonne Sewankambo, illus by Freda Chiu), which Walker’s Melissa Luckman calls ‘a celebration of hair, braiding together themes of diversity, self-acceptance and self expression’. Luckman also said award winners Meg McKinlay and Karen Blair’s How to Make a Bedtime is a ‘classic-in-the-making bear hug of a bedtime book … full of universal appeal’, while Venita Dimos and Natashia Curtin return with Elephants Can’t Jump, the latest instalment in their Mini and Milo series.

Finally, Windy Hollow has a new series of wellness books for toddlers by Anna Pignataro: Chill Out, Love Green, Go Wild and Be Kind are board books that ‘encourage positivity, mindfulness and care for others and the environment’; and the publisher is also pitching Knock Knock (Catherine Meatheringham & Deb Hudson), a ‘joyous celebration of children’s lives and language around the world’.


Junior and middle-grade titles on offer at Bologna


Affirm Press describes its junior fiction title Forbidden Journal of Rufus Rumble #1: Worst Space Crew Ever (Nick Long, illus by Robin Tatlow-Lord) as Diary of A Wimpy Kid and The Brilliant World of Tom Gates meeting Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s the first entry in a new series featuring a diary-entry format, immersive page design and lively black-and-white doodle-style illustrations. Kylie Howarth’s Kev & Trev #1: Snot Funny Sea Stories! is the first entry in a new graphic novel series for early readers, also from Affirm.

From Allen & Unwin (A&U), look out for Bravepaw and the Heartstone of Alluria: Bravepaw 1 by L M Wilkinson (illus by Lavanya Naidu, September 2024). Brought up on tales of the gallant mouse hero Bravepaw, Titch has always dreamed of adventure, but she never thought it would actually happen to her. When dire trouble comes to the Plateau, Titch and her best friend Huckleberry set out on a dangerous quest to repair the crack in the sky before the whole world breaks apart in this ‘brilliantly readable adventure full of magic and prophecy, quests, heroism and loyal friendship’, for readers aged 7–11.

Middle grade

For middle-grade readers, Affirm has The Lost Book of Magic, ‘a sweeping adventure set in 1895 Melbourne’ that concludes Amelia Mellor’s popular series that started with The Grandest Bookshop in the World.

Neurodivergent writers Kate Foster and Kate Gordon have teamed up on the middle-grade novel Small Acts (Walker), which introduces two kids with big hearts who know that helping others and making the world a better place can start with one small act of kindness. Also from Walker is Zanni Louise’s coming-of-age novel, Cora Seen and Heard, which examines secrets kept and told, and Sean E Avery’s new graphic novel series Ducky the Spy.

The Midwatch is the ‘long-awaited’ new highly illustrated middle-grade novel from internationally bestselling author–illustrator Judith Rossell: a ‘remarkable epic adventure about a school for young girls who solve mysteries, fight bad guys, and keep their city safe,’ according to publisher Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing (HGCP). Inked (also HGCP) is an ‘enemies-to-best friends’ middle-grade graphic novel about a pompous talking octopus and the 12-year-old kid who just wants him to go away, and BIG TROUBLE with Angry Chairs (also HGCP) is a ‘riotously funny, spooky series’ about two kids whose surroundings keep trying to eat them.

Agent Annabel Barker will be highlighting Thunderhead (Sophie Beer), for which she holds North American and film/television rights, and for which Australian publisher Allen & Unwin (A&U) holds translation rights. Narrated by the titular Thunderhead, the novel is ‘about a music-obsessed kid, the squirmy awkwardness of early teen life and the challenge of living with illness and loss—beautifully told with humour, music, art and joy’, says A&U.

From Hachette, Wurrtoo (Tylissa Elisara) is a ‘one-of-a-kind adventure tale from the winner of the 2021 black&write! fellowship’ and follows Wurrtoo the wombat on his quest to marry the love of his life, the sky, while facing his fears and learning the importance of friendship along the way’; A Small Collection of Happinesses (Zana Fraillon, illus by Stephen Michael King) ‘floats between Old People’s Home for 4-Year-Olds charm and low-stakes mystery solving, full of whimsy and unlikely friendship’ in ‘feel-good middle grade at its finest’; while Freddie Spector, Fact Collector (Ashleigh Barton) is the publisher’s lead younger middle-grade series for 2024: ‘fast-paced and hilarious’, it follows an eight-year-old boy who loves collecting facts on sticky notes, and whose imagination lands him in some seriously sticky situations.

In Superheroes for a Day, three autistic friends ‘transform their unique abilities into superpowers to save their school from endless maths’. Publisher Exisle says the book, illustrated by Lauren Mullinder and written by award-winning author Craig Cormick, who draws from personal experience, ‘serves as a great resource for autistic children, their parents, and teachers to foster understanding and acceptance’. Also from Exisle, in Game On: Critters, the third in a series by Emily Snape, ‘warring brothers Max and Liam must work together when a rogue app starts transforming them into animals!’ Featuring laugh-out-loud scenarios and high-stakes trivia, this is a fast-paced adventure for gaming and nature fans everywhere; and in The Last Seed Keeper (Paul Russell), Ivy ekes out a living from the rubble of the past in a barren world that has forgotten about nature, while Skyler lives above the clouds in a haven of technology. Can they uncover the key to building a new world?

Finally, from the legendary Emily Rodda comes the Landovel series (A&U), ‘a brilliantly plotted three-book epic fantasy quest’. Derry knows no other life than that of Cram’s Rock. Shunned by the other captives for being Cram’s poison taster, his only solace are the books he has access to in Cram’s stolen library—but even that must remain a secret, as his ability to read is forbidden in luddite True Landovel. So Derry keeps to himself until the day everything changes, when a traveller arrives at Cram’s Rock on the run from the mythical El executioners, and soon all the captives are rescued by the mysterious librarian Lehane.



Young adult titles on offer at Bologna

From First Nations publisher Magabala Books, winner of last year’s Bologna Prize for the Oceania region, comes a young adult novel ‘and gripping thriller’ Robert Runs by Mariah Sweetman, winner of the Daisy Utemorrah Award. Based on true events, it tells of the experiences of the author’s great-great-grandfather Robert ‘Goupong’ Anderson, who was once the fastest man in Australia and a world record holder, his little sister Dot, and his best friend Jonathan, who belong to the Ugarapul people, the Green Tree Frog tribe, and live with their families and others within the harsh confines of the Deebing Creek Mission. ‘Goupong and Jonathan are focused on winning the mission’s biggest running race that year, but when mysterious noises, unexplained occurrences and biblical events begin to plague the local area, they are forced to investigate.’ Weaving fact with fiction, Robert Runs is a poignant look into the Deebing Creek Massacre and the tough reality of mission life.

Angourie and Kate Rice’s Stuck Up and Stupid has a ‘winning combo of Australian beaches, Hollywood glam, Austen-inspired satire and modern rom-com vibes’, according to publisher Walker, who will also be previewing the inaugural winner of the Walker Books Manuscript Prize, How to Be Normal (Ange Crawford), a ‘brilliantly written YA novel that explores timely issues of control, family dysfunction and the strength to overcome, with insight, and a light touch when needed’.

Annabel Barker Agency will be representing translation and screen rights for Lauren Draper’s Return to Sender, a YA mystery/romance novel that tells the story of 17-year-old Brodie, who returns to her small town three years after she left, to live with her nan in one of the last remaining Dead Letter Offices—a place where letters go when no one claims them. Amid the lost letters and undelivered parcels, there’s one particular mystery that Brodie finds herself drawn to: the unclaimed letters from a group of friends who seemed to vanish without a trace nearly 20 years ago.

From Affirm Press is YA spec-fic novel Anomaly by debut author Emma Lord. Described by the publisher as Tomorrow, When the War Began meets The Knife of Never Letting Go, the book follows 17-year-old Piper, who thinks she’s the last person left alive. Affirm describes the book as a ‘high-octane work of YA speculative fiction filled with breathtaking action sequences, intrigue, snarky banter and romance’.

Stars in Their Eyes (Jessica Walton & Aśka) is a graphic novel first published by Fremantle Press in Australia and now published as a full-colour edition in the US by Graphix at Scholastic Books. Also from Fremantle is Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard, which has now been picked up for adaptation as a Stan Original Series, currently filming in Western Australia. About three boys growing up in a small town where they feel they have to hide their true identities, the novel will be turned into a 10-episode LGBTQIA+ drama series for the Stan streaming platform.

On offer from Allen & Unwin (A&U) is My Family and Other Suspects (Kate Emery, October 2024), described by A&U as ‘Holly Jackson meets Agatha Christie’. Fourteen-year-old Ruth is at the family farm with her extended family, but when GG dies under suspicious circumstances, Ruth’s long weekend turns into an enforced family-holiday-slash-possible-murder-investigation in what is ‘a delightful, clean and cosy modern-day YA murder mystery with a hint of romance’. A&U is also pitching the forthcoming I’m Not Really Here (Gary Lonesborough, September 2024), ‘a heartwarming queer romance’ in which Jonah and his love interest slowly overcome their own obstacles in an ’emotionally compelling and honest’ novel for readers 14–18. For the same age group, A&U also has Comes the Night (Isobelle Carmody, November 2024), ‘an intriguing, compelling, epic YA fantasy’ from the internationally acclaimed and bestselling author of the Obernewtyn Chronicles.


Nonfiction children's titles on offer at Bologna

From Walker Books, I Wonder ‘explores how curiosity leads us to knowledge’ in a book by Philip Bunting, ‘the master of inviting us to ponder questions without definitive answers’. Other children’s nonfiction titles from Walker include John Larkin and Chrissie Kreb’s ‘hilarious, nonsensical and mischievous’ advice book How to Avoid Being Eaten By Sharks, and Pamela Freeman and Liz Anelli’s ‘immersive and vibrant’ Seed to Sky, which explores the canopy and undergrowth of Australia’s Daintree Rainforest.

Hardie Grant presents Life on Us, a ‘first-of-its-kind exploration of everything that lives on and in us, but is not us’ from explorer and scientist Tim Flannery. Jinyoung Kim and Sabina Patawaran’s The Anti-Racism Kit is described as an essential, comprehensive guide to dismantling racism, created especially for high school students, while Worms Are Our Friends (Toni D’Alia & Mimi Purnell) highlights the essential role these creatures play in nature.

A Is For Ability from Sarah Rose and Alley Pascoe is ‘a big-hearted guide to disability, full of letters, learnings and laughs from a disabled person to you’, according to publisher Hachette. Presented as a brightly illustrated picture book, it’s an A–Z of celebrating what makes each of us unique. Also from Hachette comes Let’s Meet by Jodi Rodgers and Kelvin Wong. Rodgers is the qualified counsellor and special education teacher who features as the relationship specialist on the Netflix series Love on the Spectrum, and her work is rendered into nonfiction graphic format by Wong, who appeared on the show and won hearts with his passion for manga, graphic novels and illustrations.

Finally, from Allen & Unwin comes the forthcoming Unreal (Kate Simpson, illus by Leila Rudge) for ages 7–10, in which there’s been a mix-up at the museum that kids will have fun sorting out—‘guessing which animals and plants are real and which are fake in this extraordinary exhibition of the strange and wonderful animals and plants that inhabit our world … and our imaginations’. Also from A&U comes Is My Phone Reading My Mind? by Dr Matt Agnew, which promises ‘the real facts about artificial intelligence’, including answers to questions such as, ‘What is an algorithm and can it help me choose pizza? Can ChatGPT do my homework? And when I watch TV, is my television watching me back?’; and Ultrawild (Steve Mushin), a ‘mind-bendingly original’ book containing over 100 ‘outrageously funny, scientifically plausible inventions for rewilding cities and saving the planet’, for ages 9+.

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Six Summers of Tash and Leopold

Leopold and Alytash – Leo and Tash – are neighbours who used to be best friends, but aren’t anymore, for reasons that Leo doesn’t entirely understand. But now it’s the last week of Year Six and Tash is standing in Leo’s front yard with a misdelivered letter – and a favour to ask.

It’s a request that will set off a chain of events in their little crescent in Noble Park, a suburb that is changing, and fast.

In the process of solving an unfolding neighbourhood mystery and helping Ms Shepparson, a reclusive neighbour with a tragic past, Leo and Tash each have to confront fault-lines in their own recent histories and families. They will discover that friendships can grow and change, that bravery takes many forms, and that, most of all – whatever the future holds – friends and family are what matter.

Six Summers of Tash and Leopold is for fans of Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia and Nova Weetman’s The Secrets We Keep, as well as Danielle Binks’ previous bestseller, The Year the Maps Changed – and for anyone who enjoys a big, hopeful, coming-of-age middle-grade book that features complicated families and life-changing summers.

Praise for The Year the Maps Changed

‘A gorgeous book . . . it’s timeless and beautiful and it deserves to be read by people of all ages.’
—Melina Marchetta, author of teen novels such as Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca and On the Jellicoe Road.

Six Summers of Tash and Leopold
Author: Danielle Binks
Publisher: Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette Australia
Rights held for book: World, ex. ANZ/UK
Email for rights contact:
Author URL:

Image promoting the Australia Collective Stand at Bologna Book Fair

Australian titles with international appeal

Explore the latest rights opportunities from Australian publishers participating in the Australian Collective Stand at Bologna.

View the Stand Catalogue here, featuring over 70 children’s and YA titles with international appeal.



Award winners to look out for

Illustrated books

Open Your Heart to Country by Dharug author/illustrator Jasmine Seymour (Magabala) won in the children’s category of the 2023 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards (PMLAs) and is described by Books+Publishing reviewer Jacqui Davies as ‘a story of welcome and belonging told in two languages, illustrated using Seymour’s signature technique, which combines painting, printmaking and digital collage.’ The book was also shortlisted for the 2023 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards.

Ceremony: Welcome to our Country (Adam Goodes & Ellie Laing, illus by David Hardy, A&U Children’s) won the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Authored Children’s Book Award at the 2023 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards. The book was also shortlisted in the Indie Book Awards, Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) and the DANZ (Diversity in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand) Children’s Book Awards. 

Anna Walker’s Snap! (Scribble) won in the birth to 3 years category at the Speech Pathology Awards. The book was also listed as an Honour Book for the 2023 CBCA Book of the Year: Early Childhood, and it was longlisted at the 2023 World Illustration Awards for Children’s Publishing. 

The bilingual picture book Be Careful, Xiao Xin! by Alice Pung and illustrated by Sher Rill Ng (Working Title Press) was the winner of the 2023 Educational Publishing Awards Australia in the educational picture book category. The book was also shortlisted in the DANZ Awards, and the illustrator was shortlisted in the biennial Ena Noël Award for her work on the book. Be Careful, Xiao Xin! ‘shows us how hard it can be for a young child to move towards independence and for a family to keep their little ones safe while beginning the lifelong journey of letting them go,’ writes Books+Publishing reviewer Anica Boulanger-Mashberg. 

Come Over to My House (Eliza Hull & Sally Rippin, illus by Daniel Grey-Barnett, HGCP) won in the 3 to 5 years category at the Speech Pathology Awards and was also shortlisted in the DANZ Awards. The picture book explores the home lives of children and parents who are Deaf or disabled and is co-written by Rippin and disability advocate Eliza Hull.

The shortlists for the 2024 Indie Book Awards for the children’s category included Neil, the Amazing Sea Cucumber (Amelia McInerney, illus by Lucinda Gifford, Affirm), The Impossible Secret of Lillian Velvet (Jaclyn Moriarty, A&U Children’s), Silver Linings (Katrina Nannestad, ABC Books) and Kimmi (Favel Parrett, Hachette). 

Jetty Jumping (Andrea Rowe, illus by Hannah Sommerville, HGCP) also won in the 5 to 8 years category at the Speech Pathology Awards.


Craig Silvey’s Runt (illus by Sara Acton, A&U) won Book of the Year for younger children (ages 7–12) at the ABIAs, Best Children’s Book at the Indie Book Awards, Book of the Year for younger readers at the CBCA Awards, and the Dymocks Book of the Year for younger readers. Books+Publishing reviewer Bec Kavanagh writes, ‘Silvey is a natural at writing for this age bracket. Runt is a real page-turner, and despite the enormous cast of characters, all of the narrative strands come together in the book’s triumphant end.’

Katrina Nannestad’s Waiting for the Storks (ABC Books) won the $15,000 Children’s Book Award at the 2023 Queensland Literary Awards (QLAs). Waiting for the Storks was also placed on the CBCA list of Notable Books for 2023. 

Winning in the children’s literature category at the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards (VPLAs), Ghost Book by Remy Lai (A&U) is described as ‘perfect for fans of Studio Ghibli, Raina Telgemeier or Kayla Miller’ by Books+Publishing reviewer Erin Wamala.

Elvie and Rhino (Neridah McMullin, illus by Astred Hicks, Walker Books) also won at the Speech Pathology Awards, in the 8 to 10 years category. 


The Greatest Thing by Sarah Winifred Searle (A&U Children’s) won in the YA category of the 2023 PMLAs. Books+Publishing reviewer Jordi Kerr describes The Greatest Thing as ‘a graphic novel about friendship and self-actualisation, with a dash of queer romance.’ It was also shortlisted in the CBCA Book of the Year Awards and the Comic Arts Awards of Australia. 

Biffy James’s Completely Normal (and Other Lies) (HGCP) won the $15,000 Young Adult Book Award at the QLAs. The book won the 2023 Gab Williams Prize, as well as the 2023 CBCA Shadow Judging Award in the Older Readers category. Completely Normal (and Other Lies) was shortlisted for the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature at the 2023 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, as well as the Readings Young Adult Prize and the Ampersand Prize. 

Shortlisted books for the young adult category of the Indie Book Awards included Saltwater Boy (Bradley Christmas, Walker Books), Welcome to Sex (Melissa Kang & Yumi Stynes, HGCP), The Sinister Booksellers of Bath (Garth Nix, A&U Children’s) and Stuck Up & Stupid (Angourie Rice & Kate Rice, Walker Books).


The First Scientists: Deadly Inventions and Innovations from Australia’s First Peoples (Corey Tutt & Blak Douglas, HG Explore) won the $30,000 Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. Books+Publishing reviewer Hannah Gardiner says the book is ‘perfect for budding scientists aged 8–12: the text concludes with a rousing call to arms: “So what are you waiting for? Get out there and do some deadly science. Be inspired, be wowed, be amazed, but most importantly be deadly!”’

The ABC Kids Guide to Loving the Planet (Jaclyn Crupi, illus by Cheryl Orsini, ABC Books) won in the nonfiction category of the Environment Award for Children’s Literature, run by the Wilderness Society. The book explains how to care for the world around us.

Children’s laureate

The Australian Children’s Laureate Foundation (ACLF) has named Sally Rippin as the Australian Children’s Laureate 2024–25. Rippin has written over 100 books for children and young adults, including the series Billie B Brown, Hey Jack!, Polly & Buster, and School of Monsters, as well as the adult nonfiction book Wild Things: How we learn to read and what can happen if we don’t (Hardie Grant), focusing on helping neurodivergent children to read. The Australian Children’s Laureate initiative was established in 2008 to ‘promote the transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians’. Rippin succeeds laureate Gabrielle Wang (2022–23). 

Photograph of Lisa Fuller

Meet the agent: Lisa Fuller at Alex Adsett Literary

Lisa Fuller is a Wuilli Wuilli woman from Eidsvold, Queensland, and is also descended from Gooreng Gooreng and Wakka Wakka peoples. Her debut YA novel Ghost Bird won numerous awards in Australia, and was acquired by Old Barn Books in the UK. She is also an editor. This year, Fuller received a grant to support her in being mentored on the business of being a literary agent with Alex Adsett Literary (AAL). 

You are the author of a YA novel, Ghost Bird, that has won and been nominated for multiple awards in Australia. Can you tell us about your experience of having international rights sold for this title? 

It was really interesting to be published in the UK. I had heard stories from other Blak writers about what publishing overseas was like for them and the edits publishers required, but it was an incredibly easy process for me. Old Barn Books, my UK publisher, essentially took it as is and the only change was the cover—removing the prizes and having it as matte with spot UV (yes total book nerd, but I love it). I don’t think it has sold as well as here in Australia sadly, but I also wonder if not having an author on hand to promote it contributed to that. I did have a number of website and podcast interviews with some lovely people, and recorded content for some conferences. The biggest issue I faced was having people understand what was and was not appropriate to say; for example, a lot of media still use ‘Aborigines’ over there, which was really confronting for me. But Old Barn Books were very open to my discussion of that. They asked for guidance on it and I was able to send them links, which they in turn shared with interviewers before they spoke with me. So overall it was a really positive experience.

How did you come to your role at Alex Adsett Literary, when did you start, and what has it involved so far? 

You can absolutely blame Alex for this one! She’d been hinting at me for a while now and offering training, but I’m pretty busy and I need to cover bills, so taking on agenting work, which is largely unpaid for swathes of time, especially when starting out, wasn’t an option for me. Last year, Alex sent me a link to the Elevate III grant and asked if maybe having some funds would free me up to take on less freelance work, and with my PhD finishing up I was looking to what is next for me career-wise. We had a long conversation about my concerns, and she is very persuasive. Luckily, I got an Elevate grant with a commitment to start the mentorship in March… but as soon as we got the green light, of course Alex and her team have already started training me, including me in virtual meetings and pitching sessions, reading submissions, discussing queries and the like. It’s been about seven or eight years since I left Aboriginal Studies Press and buried myself in a PhD, so it feels like coming back home in a way. It’s been a brilliant time.

What appeals to you about being an agent? And how has the reality of the role matched up with your expectations or ideas of working in rights? 

I’ve always made time as a former publisher and now writer to speak with other writers about their work and getting published. I also used to teach creative writing at the University of Canberra (before I had to focus on my PhD more), and I am passionate about author rights and representation, especially First Nations peoples’ rights and creating culturally safe spaces. I’m keen to see what advocating for my fellow writers will look like as an agent. We’re only just starting but it is feeling familiar, while also touching on areas of publishing that I have zero experience in, so it’s also new and exciting. So far, it’s been a lot of me asking questions of the team and sitting in on their meetings. They’re incredibly patient with me, and I get to talk about books with other book nerds, so what could be better?

What impressions have you gained in the role and through your own experience as an author about international interest in and understanding of First Nations fiction from this continent? 

Honestly, so far, not much. But we are only about six weeks in, and we’re about to do a training intensive as a team, so I’m really looking forward to learning! My experiences in-house feel quite dated now and were all nonfiction and academic texts. I still do some freelance work for publishers, namely sensitivity readings, editing and proofreading, but they’ve largely been in the nonfiction area. I’m keen to learn more about how fiction gets handled from the other side of the table. Alex has just returned from the Creative Australia delegation to New York, so has been sharing insights into the US market, where there is seeming interest in Australian First Nations stories.

You wrote a great piece for Kill Your Darlings about inappropriate descriptions such as ‘myths’ and ‘legends’ used by reviewers of Ghost Bird. Are you able to summarise your key point here for readers of this newsletter? Have you noticed any changes locally as a result of your piece and related discussion?  

Thank you, I’m really proud of that piece and the work I did with Jasmin McGaughey on developing it. It’s a bit difficult to summarise, as it follows our yarning style and wanders around a bit. But I guess the core idea is that engaging with a reading that is not from your own culture is difficult, and people need to be mindful of the differences, but also their inherent biases. The reality is structural racism bleeds through our language use, and as First Nations writers, we are undertaking the difficult task of translating our worldviews into fiction to be consumed by mostly non-Indigenous people. That translation process and the power dynamics of publishing can be problematic, even with the best of intentions. It’s an uncomfortable space to sit in, and the piece explores those ideas. This was one of the pieces that Old Barn Books shared with interviewers and it was really lovely to hear them speak about their learnings when reading it. I’ve also had some great feedback from colleagues.

Can you tell us about the children’s/YA list you are working on at Alex Adsett Literary? 

Not too sure I can at this moment, sorry, as a lot of it is from queries sent to Alex. I think after the training intensive, there’ll be more one-on-one meetings between myself, Alex and YA/children’s authors who are already part of AAL. And of course, once I feel I’m appropriately skilled up, I’ll open for submissions myself. I’m also hoping to attend some writer events this year, where I can meet people in person and have some good yarns.

Are you and Alex on the lookout for children’s and YA titles? What kind of stories appeal to you? And what are you offering at Bologna?

We definitely are open to new children’s and YA titles. I’m on board to start helping Alex with her list, and we have another two agents acquiring also. Right now my preferences are so broad I’m not sure how helpful it’ll be. I love Own Voices works, but I’ll read anything with adventure and heart. I do love a good character-driven story, and I am a huge genre fan. But my own picture book, which is about unconditional love and acceptance, is due out on 1 April, and it kind of meets none of those, so stories with heart is probably the best way to describe my interests.

We have an amazing new rights manager, Kabita Dhara, in Bologna for us this year, and she’s got some of AAL’s great titles to promote, including a very exciting YA fantasy from Torres Strait Islander author Jasmin McGaughey (co-author of the bestselling Little Ash series with Ash Barty and illustrated by Jade Goodwin), as well as forthcoming graphic novel series by Trent Jamieson and Brent Wilson.

Photograph of Nicola Robinson

Meet the publisher: Nicola Robinson at the Indigenous Literacy Foundation

After a ‘varied career in educational and trade—both kids and adult—publishing’ Nicola Robinson is ‘now lucky enough to head up the publishing team at the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’ (ILF), which publishes community-developed children’s books for First Nations readers. 

When did you start in your current role at ILF? What appealed to you about it?

Back in 2022, I was comfortably commissioning books at HarperCollins and hadn’t thought of moving until the ILF role was advertised. Seeing that ad changed everything. I had commissioned and helped develop an Indigenous literacy series with all-Indigenous authors (Yarning Strong, OUP) more than a decade before, so I knew the terrain was sometimes demanding but so very worthwhile. There are challenges every day—I have to de-centre my mainstream publishing assumptions again and again—but it is enormously rewarding and I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone.

Can you tell us about the ILF publishing program and how it has evolved? What makes its way of publishing different to other publishing approaches?

Community-led is the key term. We exist to create the books remote Communities tell us they want, not to hit budgets or chase big sales numbers (of course, if those things happen, it’s a plus!). We receive applications from Communities who would like to work with us, and we work side by side with them to create books in the language and format of their choice, and at their pace, stepping back when appropriate (for example for Sorry Business, or—all too frequently in recent years—when a Community is scattered by natural disaster). Most of the books are picture books, with the goal of passing story and language on to new generations, but we are seeing a shift to projects creating books for and about teenagers.

How many books and authors has ILF published so far?

At the end of 2023, the tally was 126 books, including 36 languages. Counting authors is much more difficult, as many books are Community projects, with (for example) Elders, parents, teachers and school children all involved.

Is this your first time attending an international book fair? Any particular publishers that you are hoping to connect with at the fair?

Yes, this is my first international book fair, although I managed foreign rights for picture books in a previous position. I’m not aware of any other Community-led publishers, but I’m meeting with several smaller North American publishers that focus on First Nations books and am curious to see what we can learn from each other.

Can you highlight a few favourites from the ILF books on offer at the fair and what you love about them?

We have such a range of books. Country Tells Us When… is an absolute show-stopper. The overseas publishers and agents that I’ve already chatted with have been struck by its beauty and the notion that not everywhere in the world has four seasons. That’s a simple idea with huge ramifications. Winthali (Fire) is an exquisitely told traditional Dreaming story, which I think people expect from the ILF, but then we have rollicking stories of day-to-day life in remote Communities, like our books about Moli the pig, and fun-filled imaginary stories like our bestseller, No Way Yirrikipayi!

Do you have any favourite non-ILF published First Nations authors or books that you would highlight to international readers?

So many! I’ve just finished Lystra Rose’s YA fantasy The Upwelling (Hachette). I’m not usually a fantasy reader, but the clever plotting and compelling characters drew me right in. When it comes to picture books, I’d give my eye teeth to have worked on Tangki Tjuta (Donkeys) by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers (Allen & Unwin) or Albert Namatjira by Vincent Namatjira (Magabala). These books are works of art that must make their publishers very proud.


Australian authors recommend

Australian creators tell us the most recent book they have read and loved, and why.

Anton Clifford-Motopi is the debut author of the novel To and Fro (Allen & Unwin Children, March), ‘a heartfelt and humorous exploration of the complexities of growing up mixed-race’:

‘I recently finished reading What About Thao? by Oliver Phommavanh. I loved the portrayal of everyday life in a small country town and the likeable and relatable cast of characters. The book gave me a warm feeling that I was visiting Megulla and getting to know some of the locals. But most of all, I loved the relationship between Thao and Kadir and how, in helping Kadir feel at home in Megulla, Thao learned much more about himself.

Victoria Carless, whose latest novel, Lani and the Universe, was published by HarperCollins in January, has written for middle-grade readers and young adults, and been nominated for the Queensland Literary Awards and the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards:  

‘I just finished Millie Mak the Maker. It is a beautiful package of a book, with the gentle family story of resilience crafted by Alice Pung and with gorgeous illustrations by Sher Rill Ng. I love that Millie’s superpower is making special pieces as gifts from discarded objects. It took me several days to sew a few scrunchies earlier this year when I tried to teach my daughter the basics. (I am definitely not a sewer.) Thank goodness for Millie Mak the Maker, who, through creativity and resourcefulness, shows us how it is done. If only I’d read this book first.

Pictured L–R: Anton Clifford-Motopi, Victoria Carless.


Australian children’s and YA bestsellers for 2024 YTD x

While the children’s category in Australia, which represents 29% of the market, fell by 4.4% in 2023 compared to 2022, according to Nielsen, this came after a significant boom courtesy of the pandemic—the fall in 2023 perhaps being a correction after the category rose by 7.7% in 2022.

In 2024 so far, the YA chart is topped by Stuck Up & Stupid (Angourie Rice & Kate Rice, Walker Books), a ‘winning combo of Australian beaches, Hollywood glam, Austen-inspired satire and modern rom-com vibes’, according to publisher Walker. (You can read our interview with the actor-author mother-daughter writing team here.) As in previous years, the dominance of the children’s picture book charts by a certain blue heeler pup means that we have excluded Bluey titles from the picture book chart below. If Bluey books had been included, the picture books chart would have featured six of them (including one in the top spot), with sales of 56,000 units between the six titles.

Top 10 Australian picture books*

  1. Where Is the Green Sheep? (Mem Fox, Puffin)
  2. Do Not Open This Book (Pretty Please) (Andy Lee, Lake Press)
  3. Bin Chicken’s Eggcellent Easter (Jol Temple & Kate Temple, Scholastic)
  4. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (Mem Fox, Puffin)
  5. The Easter Bum Book (Kate Mayes, ABC Books)
  6. Yule Not Open This Book (Andy Lee, Lake Press)
  7. Kissed by the Moon (Alison Lester, Random House)
  8. Wombat Stew (35th Anniversary Edition) (Marcia Vaughan, Scholastic)
  9. Where Is the Green Sheep? (Hardback book and plush toy) (Mem Fox, Viking)
  10. Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic)

Top 10 Australian children’s fiction

  1. The Race Is On (Wolf Girl #10) (Anh Do, A&U Children’s)
  2. The 169-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton, Pan Australia)
  3. Look Who’s Talking (The Bad Guys #18) (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic)
  4. The Thing About Oliver (Deborah Kelly, Wombat Books)
  5. Ninja Games! (Ninja Kid #13) (Anh Do, Scholastic)
  6. Sink or Swim (Wolf Girl #9) (Anh Do, A&U Children’s)
  7. Runt (Craig Silvey, A&U)
  8. Toy Time! (Hotdog! #15) (Anh Do, Scholastic)
  9. Cat of Death! (Cat on the Run #1) (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic)
  10. To the Rescue (Smarty Pup #3) (Anh Do, A&U Children’s)

Top 10 Australian YA fiction

  1. Stuck Up & Stupid (Angourie Rice & Kate Rice, Walker Books)
  2. Storm Boy (Colin Thiele, New Holland Publishers)
  3. Kaldoras (Lynette Noni, Pantera Press)
  4. The Invocations (Krystal Sutherland, Penguin)
  5. The Prison Healer (Lynette Noni, Penguin)
  6. Eleanor Jones Is Not a Murderer (Amy Doak, Penguin)
  7. Dark Heir (Dark Rise #2) (C S Pacat, A&U Children’s)
  8. Catching Teller Crow (Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezek Kwaymullina, A&U Children’s)
  9. Gilded Cage (The Prison Healer #2) (Lynette Noni, Penguin)
  10. Tom Appleby, Convict Boy (Jackie French, HarperCollins)

Top 10 Australian children’s and YA nonfiction

  1. Girl Stuff 8–12 (Kaz Cooke, Viking)
  2. Barefoot Kids (Scott Pape, HarperCollins)
  3. Come Together (Isaiah Firebrace, HG Explore)
  4. 1001 Cool Jokes (Glen Singleton, Hinkler)
  5. Life Lessons for Little Ones (Jess Sanders, Affirm Kids)
  6. Ned Kelly and the Green Sash (Mark Greenwood, Walker Books)
  7. Spotlight (Solli Raphael, Puffin)
  8. The Solar System (Deadly Science) (Corey Tutt, Australian Geographic)
  9. NAPLAN-style Numeracy Tests: Year 3 (Allyn Jones, Pascal Press)
  10. NAPLAN-style Numeracy Tests: Year 5 (Allyn Jones, Pascal Press)

*Excludes Bluey titles.

Period covered: 31 December 2023 to 9 March 2024. Ranked by volume. © Nielsen BookScan 2024.

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