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Inside the Australian book industry

Children’s, parenting titles popular at Beijing Book Fair

Australian publishers who attended the Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) in August have reported an interest in children’s, parenting and education titles.

Ventura Press director Jane Curry sold the rights to six parenting titles on topics including life with a baby, making time for children, and how to address issues such as bullying and honesty.

Curry said, ‘We first put a toe in the water three years ago when we sold the rights to Talk Less, Listen More by Michael Hawton. It was endorsed by the New Oriental Family Education Unit, which gave it a good start, and it has remained a consistently good seller ever since. I was really looking forward to coming to BIBF as everything I’ve read and heard shows that there is very real interest in the subject of raising children in China.’

The Australia-based ALC Agency recently sold a number of children’s books to Chinese publishers on behalf of independent Australian publishers New Frontier Publishing, Wombat Books, Yellow Brick Books and Little Steps Publishing. You can read more about these sales in this month’s rights news.

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian

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‘Room on Our Rock’ sold into multiple territories

Scholastic Australia has sold US, Japanese, German, French, Brazilian and Turkish rights to the picture book Room on Our Rock (Kate & Jol Temple, illus by Terri Rose Baynton). Exploring themes of sharing and compassion, the book has a clever set-up: when read from front to back, the seals in the story believe there is no room on their rock for others; from back to front, they welcome others to shelter on their rock.

Exisle Publishing’s children’s imprint EK Books has sold Italian, world Spanish, Catalan, Brazilian and Thai (bilingual edition) rights to the picture book Grandma Forgets (Paul Russell & Nicky Johnston), about a family coping with their grandmother’s dementia.

The ALC Agency has sold simplified Chinese rights to several Australian picture books to Future Publishing. They include: Is it the Way You Giggle? (Nicola Connelly, illus by Annie White, New Frontier Publishing); Eric Finds a Way (Robert Vescia, illus by Ann-Marie Finn, Wombat Books); and Gus the Asparagus (Ann-Marie Finn, illus by Kaylene Hobson, Yellow Brick Books).

The ALC Agency also sold simplified Chinese rights to three titles in the ‘Engibear’ series—Engibear’s Dream, Engibear’s Bridge and Engilina’s Trains (all Andrew King, illus by Benjamin Johnston, Little Steps Publishing)—to Beijing Science and Technology Press. The series is aimed at children aged seven to 12 with an interest in construction and engineering.

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


Lester shortlisted for Melbourne Prize for Literature

Prolific children’s author and former Australian Children’s Laureate Alison Lester has been shortlisted for the Melbourne Prize for Literature. The award is presented triennially to a Victorian author whose body of published work has made an outstanding contribution to Australian literature and to cultural and intellectual life.

Several Australian children’s and YA books have been shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards.

Two Australian authors—Wendy Orr and Darren Groth—are among the finalists of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre’s children’s book awards.


Introducing CSIRO Publishing’s children’s list

In 2015 CSIRO Publishing launched its first children’s book Phasmid, the story of the rediscovery of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect previously believed to be extinct. The publisher has since released a number of children’s books that aim to ‘introduce the next generation to science, show them how science is part of their everyday lives, and that science is fun and exciting’. Think Australian spoke to CSIRO Publishing’s books publishing director Briana Melideo.

What makes CSIRO Publishing’s children’s list unique?

We aim to publish books that entertain, encourage and inspire young readers to see the science that is all around them. Our publishing criteria tends to remain the same whether a title is pitched at children or for an adult audience—we generally look for a uniquely Australian story, relevant, topical and one that communicates important science issues. Our children’s range in particular offers readers an opportunity to see how diverse and fascinating science can be, as well as how science can help solve problems.

How many children’s books do you publish each year—and what kinds of books?

Our first book was published in September 2015 and since then we’ve been steadily increasing the number of titles year on year. In 2019 we hope to publish four to five titles in the children’s program, complementing our strong list of award-winning backlist. Our program highlights relatable Australian content and engages our readers in the practical applications of science. This helps them to see how they can be part of the solution in the future. We have a strong environmental focus, but also have an activities book that was developed from our Double Helix magazine content, as well as topics such as future technologies and animal eco-warriors.

Have you sold international rights to your children’s books?

Not yet, but we are developing a rights catalogue to maximise translation opportunities in foreign language markets and we recently attended the Beijing International Book Fair to gauge interest. The strongest interest so far has been for illustrated children’s titles with a strong environmental message.

Have you acquired the rights to publish any international children’s titles in Australia?

To date we have focused our attention on local titles, but we are interested in exploring the potential for acquiring international titles. While our program is focused on Australian stories, science is a global topic, so we would be looking for titles with inspiring and engaging science content, which are also relevant and interesting for local audiences.

Which children’s title on your list do you believe deserves bigger recognition overseas?

Australian fauna and flora is special and unique so there is worldwide interest in books on these topics. Our first book entitled Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect is based on a subject which could be perceived as being particularly niche. However, the actual fact is that the rediscovery of this species (which was believed extinct) made worldwide headlines at the time, and the world-class breeding program established at the Melbourne Zoo has now been expanded to both Bristol Zoo in the UK and the San Diego Zoo in the US, so there is definitely international interest in this amazing true story.

Another title like Animal Eco-Warriors: Humans and Animals Working Together to Protect Our Planet includes stories from Australia, New Zealand, the US and even Mozambique, so there is certainly worldwide appeal. Plus the enjoyment, values, experiences and lessons from this book definitely aren’t restricted by geographical boundaries.

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

Early next year we are publishing a new book in our ‘Small Friends Books’ series (a collaborative series with Scale Free Network that includes stories that describe symbiotic partnerships between microbes and larger life forms) entitled The Squid, the Vibrio and the Moon. In this book the relationship illustrated is between the Hawaiian bobtail squid and the bioluminescent bacteria that help it glow in the moonlight. While the story is set in the shallow waters of Hawaii, bobtail squids can be found in both Australia and Indonesia, but moreover the science behind the story has universal appeal.


‘Alpacas with Maracas’ tops Australian picture book bestsellers chart

Australian picture book bestsellers: August

Alpacas with Maracas, the follow-up to Matt Cosgrove’s bestselling Macca the Alpaca, is at the top of the Australian picture book bestsellers chart for August. It has also been chosen for Australia’s National Simultaneous Storytime, which brings together thousands of children across the country to read the same picture book. Other new entries in the bestsellers chart are Australian footballer Alex Rance and illustrator Shane McG’s picture book Tiger’s Roar, which celebrates teamwork and perseverance; and multi-award-winning author Shaun Tan’s Cicada, which reimagines the life of a cicada as an unappreciated office worker.

  1. Alpacas with Maracas (Matt Cosgrove, Scholastic Australia)
  2. Thelma the Unicorn (with Unicorn Horn) (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic Australia)
  3. Macca the Alpaca (Matt Cosgrove, Scholastic Australia)
  4. Possum Magic 35th Anniversary Edition (Mem Fox, Scholastic Australia)
  5. Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic Australia)
  6. Where is the Green Sheep? (Mem Fox & Judy Horacek, Penguin Random House Australia)
  7. Pig the Star (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic Australia)
  8. Tiger’s Roar (Alex Rance, illus by Shane McG, Allen & Unwin)
  9. I’m Australian Too (with Poster) (Mem Fox, Scholastic Australia)
  10. Cicada (Shaun Tan, Hachette Australia)

© Nielsen BookScan 2018

Period covered: 22 July to 18 August 2018

Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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