The position of Australian Children’s Laureate was created to ‘promote the importance and transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians’, and this week Morris Gleitzman was announced as the laureate for 2018-19. Gleitzman is the author of nearly 40 books for young people, including Two Weeks with the Queen (Pan Macmillan), Boy Overboard, Bumface and the ‘Felix’ series (all Penguin). He succeeds 2016-17 laureate Leigh Hobbs, and previous laureates Jackie French (2014-15), Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor (both 2013-14).
The theme of Gleitzman’s two-year term will be ‘Stories make us—stories create our future’. ‘I think our individual and collective futures are largely the result of our capacity to imagine the best possibilities in our lives, to look bravely at the worst possibilities, and to use all our creativity and empathy and hope and inspiration and grit and honesty and intelligence and curiosity and cheekiness and insight to make a difference,’ he told Think Australian.
Gleitzman will certainly be busy. As well as his role as ambassador, he is planning to write the seventh and final book in the ‘Felix’ series next year. The combined edition of the first and second books in the ‘family’ of books (Once and Then) sits in third place on the Young Adult bestsellers chart this month (see bestsellers).
Also in Australian children’s book news, the inaugural Scribblers Festival will run in Western Australia from 9-13 May this year. Among the guests already announced is Australian author Nicki Greenberg, whose The Cursed First Term of Zelda Stitch. Bad Teacher. Worse Witch will soon be followed by Zelda Stitch Term Two: Too Much Witch, with publisher Allen & Unwin announcing it has acquired world rights to the sequel. For more rights deals, read on.