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Inside the Australian book industry

A closer look at Australian children’s nonfiction

In this issue of Think Australian Junior we take a closer look at the bestselling Australian children’s nonfiction with a new children’s/YA nonfiction chart (adding to the monthly rotation of Australian picture book, children’s fiction and YA charts). Interestingly, it’s a backlist title that makes the top of the chart—Kaz Cooke’s guide for pre-teen girls, Girl Stuff 8–12, a companion to her original Girl Stuff (which is at number at eight). The books were published in Australia in 2016 and 2013 respectively.

Kindness was one of the trends identified at this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair, so perhaps it’s no surprise that Australian illustrator Sophie Beer’s board books Love Makes a Family  and the forthcoming Kindness Makes Us Strong have recently sold to the US.

We also look at the latest Australian children’s and YA award-winners, including a number of Australian authors with established and emerging international profiles (Shaun Tan, Jay Kristoff and Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina) whose books were honoured at this year’s Aurealis Awards for science fiction, fantasy and horror writing.

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian

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Sophie Beer board books sold to the US

Hardie Grant Egmont has sold North American rights to two board books by illustrator Sophie Beer to Penguin imprint Dial Books. Beer’s Love Makes a Family  and its forthcoming companion title Kindness Makes Us Strong ‘spread messages of inclusivity, diversity and community in a fun and engaging way’. North American rights to Beer’s previous board book series ‘Pups’ (Hardie Grant Egmont) were also sold to Little Bee.

Hachette Australia has acquired world rights to four junior fiction titles based on the award-winning Australian children’s television series Kitty Is Not a Cat. The animated television show, which ‘features the brave, fierce, curious protagonist, Kitty, learning what it means to be human from a group of kind-hearted musically inclined cats’, has sold to 85 countries. Hachette will publish the first two books in Australia in September 2020.

Screen Australia has announced story development funding for Zac Power the Movie, an animated feature film based on the bestselling children’s book series of the same name (Hardie Grant Egmont). The family adventure film sees teenage spy Zac Power embark on a rogue mission against a supervillain in an attempt to rescue his kidnapped parents and save the world from being sucked into a black hole. The series has sold more than 60,000 copies in over 13 international territories.

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


‘Lifel1ke’ wins best sci-fi novel at Aurealis Awards

Jay Kristoff’s YA novel Lifel1k3 (Allen & Unwin)—which is pitched as Romeo and Juliet meets Mad Max meets X-Men—has been named best science-fiction novel at the Aurealis Awards for science-fiction, fantasy and horror writing. Catching Teller Crow (Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, Allen & Unwin) was named best YA novel, The Endsister (Penni Russon, Allen & Unwin) won best children’s fiction and Tales from the Inner City (Shaun Tan, Allen & Unwin) collected awards for best graphic novel/illustrated work and best collection.

At the recent Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs), prizes were presented to the picture book All the Ways to be Smart (Davina Bell & Allison Colpoys, Scribble), junior fiction titles The 104-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton, Pan) and Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds (Jeremy Lachlan, Hardie Grant Egmont), and the YA novel Whisper (Lynette Noni, Pantera Press).

Leave Taking (Lorraine Marwood, University of Queensland Press) and Dingo (Claire Saxby & Tannya Harricks, Walker Books) shared the prize for children’s literature at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, while the award for YA went to Amelia Westlake (Erin Gough, Hardie Grant Egmont).


‘Girl Stuff 8–12’ tops Australian children’s/YA nonfiction bestsellers chart

Kaz Cooke’s go-to guides for pre-teen and teenage girls, Girl Stuff 8–12 and the original Girl Stuff, are at number one and eight, respectively, on the Australian nonfiction children’s/YA bestsellers chart—many years after they were first published. The nonfiction chart also includes a memoir/scrapbook from Australian YouTuber Georgia Productions (The Amazingly Disorganised Help Dictionary), nonfiction with a particularly Australian flavour (The Great Big Book of Aussie Inventions, A Is for Australia, Australian Birds), a new collection of true stories about kids and courage (Kids Who Did), and a fresh approach to sex education (The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made), which has sold into a number of international territories.

Australian children’s/YA nonfiction bestsellers: April

  1. Girl Stuff 8–12 (Kaz Cooke, Viking)
  2. The Amazingly Disorganised Help Dictionary (Georgia Productions, Penguin)
  3. The Great Big Book of Aussie Inventions (Lake Press)
  4. Kids Who Did (Kirsty Murray, Allen & Unwin)
  5. A Is for Australia (Frane Lessac, Walker Books)
  6. The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made (Fiona Katauskas, ABC Books)
  7. 1001 Cool Jokes (Glen Singleton, Hinkler Books)
  8. Girl Stuff (Kaz Cooke, Viking)
  9. Australian Birds (Matt Chun, Little Hare)
  10. Make Believe: M C Escher for Kids (Kate Ryan, illus by Cally Bennett, National Gallery of Victoria)

© Nielsen BookScan 2019
Period covered: 7 April to 4 May 2019
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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