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Inside the Australian book industry

Putting the anarchy back into childhood

A recent interview with bestselling Australian children’s book creators Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton—which coincides with the release of their latest book and this month’s top-selling Australian children’s fiction title The 104-Storey Treehouse (Pan Macmillan Australia)—has some interesting insights into the philosophy behind their anarchic work.

‘Books are the last frontier of freedom and wilderness for kids, for imagining dangerous things, for imagining craziness and worst-case scenarios,’ says Griffiths, defending the storylines in his books that involve kids jumping into volcanoes, running across six lanes of traffic and lighting a cat’s tail on fire. If you haven’t checked out Griffiths and Denton’s work, there’s truly nothing quite like it.

In this month’s newsletter we report on the sale of a debut middle-grade fantasy series to Germany for a ‘record’ sum; and take a closer look at the winner of Australia’s teen-voted Gold Inky Award for Australian YA.

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian

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Feminist fantasy series sells into Germany for ‘record’ sum

Hardie Grant Egmont has sold German-language rights to debut author Rhiannon Williams’ middle-grade fantasy Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt, plus two further books by Williams, to Random House Germany imprint cbj Verlag for a ‘record’ sum. The Ottilie Colter trilogy—about a young girl who disguises herself as a boy to infiltrate a male-only monster-hunting organisation—won Hardie Grant Egmont’s Ampersand Prize for unpublished manuscripts last year. It is pitched as a ‘feminist adventure for the rebel girls generation’.

Exisle Publishing’s children’s imprint EK Books has sold simplified Chinese rights to the picture book Ollie’s Treasure (Lynn Jenkins, illus by Kirrili Lonergan), a ‘tale of mindfulness for young, developing minds’.

Berbay Publishing has sold simplified Chinese rights to two picture books by Japanese paper cut artist Chihiro Takeuchi, Can You Find My Robot’s Arm and The Fantastic Recipe Machine.

ALC Agency has sold Korean-language rights to the picture book Oliver’s Grumbles (Yvonne Mes, illus by Giuseppe Poli, Yellow Brick Books) to Froebel Media.

ALC Agency has sold North American rights to the junior-fiction books My Dog Doesn’t Like Me and My Dog Gets a Job (both Elizabeth Fensham, University of Queensland Press) to Sourcebooks.

Allen & Unwin has acquired ANZ rights to debut author Astrid Scholte’s YA fantasy Four Dead Queens, and will publish the standalone novel in March 2019 simultaneously with its US publisher Penguin Random House. Four Dead Queens follows a teenage thief who discovers all four of her nation’s queens have been brutally murdered.



SLR Productions has commenced production on an animated telemovie based on Jacqueline Harvey’s ‘Alice-Miranda’ children’s book series (Random House Australia). The comedy-drama Alice Miranda Shines Bright will premiere on Australian free-to-air television and will be distributed internationally by ZDF Enterprises. The series has sold over 850,000 copies in Australia and 1,000,000 internationally.

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


‘Paper Cranes Don’t Fly’ wins teen-voted Inky Award

Peter Vu’s YA novel Paper Cranes Don’t Fly (Ford Street Publishing) has won the Gold Inky Award—selected by readers aged between 12-20 from shortlists chosen by a panel of teen judges. Read more about Paper Cranes Don’t Fly in the profile.


Introducing Peter Vu’s ‘Paper Cranes Don’t Fly’

Paper Cranes Don’t Fly (Ford Street Publishing) tells the story of a cancer patient as he undergoes treatment with friends by his side. It’s the debut novel from Australian author Peter Vu, who was diagnosed with a brainstem glioma at age six and went through his final surgery during year 10. Earlier this month it won the teen-voted Gold Inky Award for Australian YA. Publisher Paul Collins spoke to Think Australian about the novel’s rights sales potential.

What is your pitch for Paper Cranes Don’t Fly?

Despite the ever-growing tumour in his head, Adam just wishes he was normal. This is until his latest operation, when everything seems like a lost hope, and he knows he isn’t normal. He doesn’t know what to do, because there is nothing he can do.  All he feels he has left are his friends. But that may be all he needs. Paper Cranes Don’t Fly describes the life of a cancer patient in a way that no other young adult book does, focusing not just on living with cancer, but the author going through it, with the help of patience, love and friendship.

What are some comparable titles in the market?

John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and A J Betts’ Zac & Mia (Text Publishing).

How has Paper Cranes Don’t Fly been received in Australia?

Sales have been above average for a micro press. Magpies magazine said: ‘This is a poignant story that will stay in your heart and mind a long time.’ And this from Reading Time: ‘Beautifully and realistically written.’

Have any international rights been sold?

No international rights as yet.

Has there been any interest in film/TV adaptation?

A film company is currently reading the book.

Why do you think this novel will appeal to international readers?

There’s no location limitation on the universal themes of happiness, friendship, growth and the emotion and physical impact of chronic illness.

Paper Cranes Don’t Fly is a raw and honest YA novel written by a teenager who has lived most of his life in and out of hospitals.

This book won the Gold Inky Award, which was voted for by Australian teenagers, and I think teens worldwide will also empathise with a book written by one of their own.


‘104-Storey Treehouse’ tops Australian children’s fiction bestsellers chart

Australian children’s fiction bestsellers: September

The 104-Storey Treehouse—the eighth book in Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton’s super successful ‘Treehouse’ series (profiled in Think Australian Junior last year)—is at the top of the Australian children’s fiction bestsellers chart for September. Its release has propelled earlier instalments in the series back into the bestsellers chart. Also charting highly is the latest book in Anh Do’s ‘WeirDo’ series, Splashy Weird.

  1. The 104-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan Macmillan)
  2. Splashy Weird!: WeirDo Book 11 (Anh Do, illus by Jules Faber, Scholastic)
  3. The 13-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan Macmillan)
  4. The 26-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan Macmillan)
  5. The 91-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan Macmillan)
  6. Messy Weird!: WeirDo Book 10 (Anh Do, illus by Jules Faber, Scholastic)
  7. The 39-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan Macmillan)
  8. From Nerd to Ninja: Ninja Kid Book 1 (Anh Do, illus by Jeremy Ley, Scholastic)
  9. The 78-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan Macmillan)
  10. Funny Kid Prank Wars (Matt Stanton, HarperCollins)

© Nielsen BookScan 2018
Period covered: 19 August to 15 September 2018
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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