Think Australian Junior newsletter
Image. Advertisement: Kensy and Max 1: Breaking News
Inside the Australian book industry

Meet new Australian voices at the Intersection

‘Commentators have been pointing out for decades how the children’s and young adult literary landscape has largely reflected one dominant, homogeneous story of privilege and power that rarely admits “outsider” voices.’ So say Ambelin Kwaymullina and Rebecca Lim, editors of a new anthology from Fremantle Press intended to put 17 such ‘outsider’ voices front and centre.

Meet Me at the Intersection grew out of Kwaymullina and Lim’s Voices from the Intersection initiative, which was founded in 2016 to support emerging Australian ‘Own Voices’ YA and children’s authors, illustrators and publishing professionals. The anthology will feature stories and memoir from writers who identify as one or more of First Nations, people of colour, LGBTIA+ or living with disability. The co-editors said they prioritised two things when curating the anthology: ‘to treat each creator with respect and to edit their pieces with their specific background and intersectionalities in mind’ and ‘to recognise the impossibility of confining these unique narratives to hard-and-fast boxes’.

If you are looking for Australian voices you may not have heard about before, keep an eye out for the anthology, which is due for publication in Australia in September.

‘Outsider’ voices and the general theme of diversity were some of the main takeaways from last month’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair reported by Australian publishers, along with the rise (and possible market saturation) of feminist books and the ongoing popularity of middle grade. However, Magabala Books senior editor Margaret Whiskin said Bologna also reminded her that ‘Indigenous voices are still the marginalised of the marginalised’ and ‘there is a still a lot of education to be done’.

As part of that push to find more Indigenous voices, Magabala announced last month a new unpublished manuscript prize for junior fiction and YA. The $10,000 annual Daisy Utemorrah Award will be open to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers, and the award is set to run over three years.

Matthia Dempsey
Think Australian

Image. Advertisement: The Flying Optometrist. Where is that little red plane?

Walker Books acquires world rights to Croggon's first middle-grade fantasy title

Alison Croggon, author of the ‘Pellinor’ series for young adults, will publish her first middle-grade fantasy adventure title, The Threads of Magic, with Walker Books after the publisher acquired world rights in all languages from Veronique Baxter at David Higham Associates, acting on behalf of Jenny Darling & Associates. The book follows a young pickpocket, Pip, who lives on his wits in the city of Clarel and finds himself in possession of a curious object: a dried-out heart that is trying to communicate with him. ‘The seed of the tale was the mystery around the Lost Dauphin, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette,’ Croggon told Think Australian. ‘His heart was reportedly stolen and pickled by a doctor who did an autopsy. The Threads of Magic spiraled out of that central horrible image of a dead boy’s heart, but it very quickly took on a life of its own!’ Walker will publish the book in the UK in October 2019, and expects to release the book in Australia in December 2019.

Scholastic Australia has acquired middle-grade fiction trilogy ‘Girltopia’, written by former Hardie Grant Egmont publishing director Hilary Rogers, who previously commissioned the ‘Billie B Brown’, ‘Zac Power’ and ‘Go Girl’ series. Book one in the trilogy, Girltopia, marks Rogers’ debut as an author and is the first in an ongoing collaboration between Scholastic and book-creation venture Interrobang, which Rogers co-founded with writer Josh Lefers. The trilogy is set in a world run by girls after all the men and boys are struck down by a mysterious sleeping sickness, and the first book will be published in July 2018. The series is aimed at middle-grade readers who enjoy the ideas in high-concept YA novels.

Penguin Random House Australia’s Young Readers division has acquired 13-year-old slam poet Solli Raphael’s first book, a collection of slam poetry paired with inspirational writing techniques. Scheduled for publication on 3 September 2018, Limelight will include several introductory chapters on traditional poetry forms and slam poetry, as well as 30 original poems, and tips on writing and performing. It also includes the poem ‘Australian Air’, which became a viral video on Facebook, where it was viewed 3.5 million times. Raphael was the youngest winner of the Australian Poetry Slam in 2017, when he was 12 years old. His work deals with themes of sustainability and social equality.

Hardie Grant Egmont has sold US rights to debut author Jack Henseleit’s middle-grade fiction books The Witching Hours: The Vampire Knife and its sequel, The Troll Heart, to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Henseleit’s horror adventure books follow a young boy, Max, who is kidnapped by a vampire, and Max’s sister, Anna, who plunges into a world of monsters and magic to try to save him. The books have now sold into six territories, including Spain, the Netherlands and Brazil. Hardie Grant Egmont managing director Annabel Barker said the US publisher ‘snapped up this book almost immediately on submission’. ‘We have been so excited by the international response to Jack’s debut novel … We are so delighted for Jack, as a debut children’s novelist, to see this level of success so quickly,’ said Barker. Rights were acquired by Kheryn Callender, with Little, Brown to publish the first book in the US fall of 2018.

Other recent Australian rights sales and acquisitions include:

Picture books

Younger readers and middle grade

  • Allen & Unwin has sold German rights to A Song Only I Can Hear (Barry Jonsberg) to Random House; Dutch rights to Lemniscaat; and Italian rights to Piemme/Mondadori.
  • Black Inc. has sold Turkish rights to How to Win a Nobel Prize (Barry Marshall & Lorna Hendry, illus by Bernard Caleo) to Epsilon at auction; Polish rights to Wydawnictwo Kobiece at auction; and UK and Japanese rights to Oneworld Publications and Wave Publishers, respectively.
  • Scholastic has sold simplified Chinese rights to The Bad Guys Episode Five (Aaron Blabey).

Young adult

  • Hardie Grant Egmont has sold North American rights to Amelia Westlake (Erin Gough) to Deirdre Jones at Little, Brown/Poppy.

For the latest Australian rights sales and acquisitions news, click here.


Townsend's 'Nevermoor' wins locally and in the UK

Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Lothian) has been named Book of the Year at the 2018 Indie Book Awards. Nevermoor, which also took out the children’s category of the awards, is the first children’s title to win the overall award in the 10-year history of the Indie Book Awards, which are chosen by independent booksellers to reward and promote excellence in Australian writing. The win came after Townsend’s novel won the younger readers category of the 2018 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, with the UK retailer describing the Queensland writer’s debut as ‘one of the most inventive fantasy novels for children of recent years’.

In other awards news, the shortlists for Australia’s best-known children’s book awards—the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards—have been announced. In the case of this award, being shortlisted is akin to winning any other award. You can find the shortlists here. The winners will be announced on 17 August. And Will Kostakis’ YA novel The Sidekicks (Penguin) has won the 2018 Ena Noël Award, a biennial prize open to Australian creators under the age of 35, administered by the Australian branch of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to encourage emerging writers and illustrators.



Introducing Quirky Kid Publishing

Quirky Kid Publishing—the publishing arm of Sydney- and Wollongong-based child psychology clinic The Quirky Kid Clinic—has won the Educational Initiatives Award at the 2018 London Book Fair (LBF) International Excellence Awards. Chosen from a shortlist of three, Quirky Kid won the award for Basecamp, an anxiety program for seven- to 12-year-olds in which children embark on a journey through a fictional Australian national park to help explore their emotions. Basecamp was also shortlisted for the Educational Learning Resources Award. Quirky Kid co-founder and publisher Leonardo Rocker spoke to Think Australian. 

What makes Quirky Kid Publishing unique?

Quirky Kid is published with purpose. Our titles aim to engage young readers and parents towards improving specific social, emotional or behaviour skills or challenges. We also publish tools for the school and clinic settings. These tools aim to help teachers or counsellors to engage young people to talk about feelings and emotions. As we are based within a child psychology clinic, we know a lot about child development and our subject area, so, according to our readers and users, our titles are useful and effective.

How did the publishing arm come about?

When we started 10 years ago, we could not find the kind of titles we were looking for. The ones we knew about did not quite do the trick. Sometimes they did not have the graphics quality we were after; sometimes they missed the point in relation to how to talk to kids about feelings or emotions. So we thought, ‘Why not make our own?’ Our co-founder Dr Kimberley O’Brien used illustrations during her counselling and had created a tool. We pitched it to a publisher but they wanted to pay us with 10 free copies. Not a good deal, so we set out to make the first product ourselves, with great success.

How many books/other publications does Quirky Kid publish each year—and what kinds?

Currently, we work toward publishing two titles a year. The last three years have been a little different as we have focused on publishing two educational resources, like Basecamp. These resources have the characteristics of children’s books but they also have a lot more included, such as games, cards, stickers and an entire pedagogical process, so they take a lot longer to produce. They also include lesson plans, manuals and websites. They are resource-heavy, but the result is an incredible tool. We are now starting a new stage and you should expect some interesting trade titles coming up! 

How has the international reception been at both London and Bologna?

The international reception could not have been better. We met with global publishers, government representatives, private organisations and parents. There is a clear understanding of the importance of the resources Quirky Kid produces, and we received a lot of encouragement and feedback that we are on the right path. Our titles are not conventional for trade publishing; however, more specialised publishers are really engaged with us and are considering utilising our materials globally.

Have you sold international rights to your publications?

We definitely export and have some distribution agreements, but we have not yet sold rights. Since returning from Bologna, however, we have four strong leads and we hope to announce something soon.

Which titles have been most successful overseas?

The tools geared towards the schools market have sold over 6000 copies worldwide. I think the last time we checked, we had 20 organisations using our tools from Japan to Brazil. The Face It cards and the Tell Me a Story cards are the bestsellers.

Which title or author on your list do you believe deserves bigger recognition overseas?

It is hard to play favourites but our latest resource Basecamp by Dr Kathryn Berry and Lisa Diebold has to be up there. It’s a very special resource, and I don’t think we will ever publish something like it again.

Have you acquired the rights to publish any overseas titles in Australia?

Yes, we have acquired the rights to five titles already. The first one, How to Be a Friend, was written by a big name: Marc Brown, the creator of the American cartoon series Arthur. From there we have been focusing on translations, as they offer a bigger opportunity since we’re based in Australia. We’re considering and negotiating on three titles since returning from Bologna and London.  

What will you publish next (that may appeal to international publishers)?

We are working on two new titles within our niche market. We have learned a lot since visiting the book fairs for the last four to five years; we feel we know our place in the market—and that we can create unique titles that will be loved by readers and traders.


Anh Do’s new ‘Ninja Kid’ tops children’s fiction bestsellers

Comedian, and author of the bestselling memoir The Happiest Refugee, Anh Do occupies four of the top 10 places on the children’s fiction bestsellers chart for March, with the first in his new ‘Ninja Kid’ series sitting in top spot and titles from his ‘WeirDo’ series in third, ninth and tenth places. Also making kids laugh this month were comedian Peter Helliar, whose ‘Frankie Fish’ books sit in second and eighth place, and two of the ‘Treehouse’ books by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton in fourth and sixth spot. Kensy and Max: Breaking News is the first book in a new action adventure middle-grade spy series by the author of the ‘Alice-Miranda’ and ‘Clementine Rose’ series, Jacqueline Harvey, and it has debuted in the March top 10 in fifth spot. Jessica Townsend’s Nevermoor, in seventh place, recently won Book of the Year in the Indie Awards and also took out the younger readers category of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (see above). 

Australian children’s fiction bestsellers: March

  • Ninja Kid #1 (Anh Do, Omnibus Books)
  • Frankie Fish and the Great Wall of Chaos (Peter Helliar, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • WeirDo #10: Messy Weird! (Anh Do, Scholastic)
  • The 13-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton, Pan)
  • Kensy and Max 1: Breaking News (Jacqueline Harvey, Random House)
  • The 91-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton, Pan)
  • Nevermoor (Jessica Townsend, Lothian)
  • Frankie Fish and The Sonic Suitcase (Peter Helliar, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  • WeirDo #9: Spooky Weird! (Anh Do, Scholastic)
  • WeirDo (Anh Do, Scholastic)

© Nielsen BookScan 2018
Period covered: 25 February to 31 March 2018
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




Contact us


Please note that all editorial staff at Books+Publishing work part-time.

Editorial queries should be addressed to to reach the team.

News editor
Brad Jefferies

Managing editor, publications
Matthia Dempsey

Angela Glindemann

Digital producer
Andrew Wrathall

Classifieds, jobs and notices

Display advertising

Select newsletters

Select which newsletters you’d like to receive here.
Unsubscribe from individual newsletters here.
Or unsubscribe from all newsletters here.

View articles

Purchase a subscription to Books+Publishing to view all articles on the website.

If you need help with your subscription, please email the subscriptions team.

Follow us