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Inside the Australian book industry

Allen & Unwin launches children’s imprint; Blabey series tops ‘NYT’ chart

Allen & Unwin has created a new children’s imprint called Albert Street Books, which will have a ‘strong commercial focus’. The publisher says its aim is to publish books for babies to 12-year-olds that are ‘warm and charming, funny and friendly, and easy to sell, to buy, and to love’. Among the imprint’s first titles are A First Time for Everything from media personalities Tiffiny Hall and Ed Kavalee—‘a hilarious and relatable story that perfectly captures all the messy, glorious chaos of a baby’s first year’—and Little Nic’s Big Day by Australian Rules footballer Nic Naitanui.

Aaron Blabey’s ‘The Bad Guys’ series (Scholastic) has recently topped the New York Times weekly chart for bestselling children’s series, ahead of Dav Pilkey’s ‘Dog Man’ (Scholastic) and Jeff Kinney’s ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ (Puffin). Since the first book was released in 2015, ‘The Bad Guys’ has been published in 37 countries and sold over seven million copies, with a film adaptation also in the works. The latest in the series, The Big Bad Wolf, is currently in first place in the Australian children’s fiction bestsellers charts.

Much has been written about the state of YA adult fiction in recent months, with the Bookseller reporting a significant decline in YA fiction sales in the UK in 2018. In Australia, the decline has been much less pronounced, and while US titles continue to dominate, the Australian charts are seeing a resurgence in frontlist titles, reports Jackie Tang.

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian

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Five Mile sells UK, US and Canadian rights to ‘Love Your Body’

Five Mile has sold UK, US and Canadian rights to Jessica Sanders’ picture book Love Your Body (illus by Carol Rossetti) to the Quarto Group, with the book now sold into 25 territories. Five Mile commercial director Tash Besliev said, ‘Publishing Love Your Body has been rewarding on so many levels, but being able to sell rights into so many territories means the important messages in this book will reach millions and millions of young girls right around the world.’ Sanders’ new book Me Time—pitched as a ‘self-love bible’ that covers ‘physical, mental, spiritual and future selves’—will be published by Five Mile later this year.

US and Canadian rights to environmentalist Tim Flannery’s forthcoming children’s book Explore Your World: Weird, wild, amazing! (illus by Sam Caldwell, Hardie Grant Egmont)—an illustrated nonfiction title that introduces readers to ‘the most bizarre and amazing creatures living on our planet’—have been sold at auction to Norton Young Readers.

Black Inc. has sold world English-language rights (ex ANZ) to a ‘creative biography’ of climate change activist Greta Thunberg for middle-grade readers to Simon & Schuster Children’s UK. Black Inc. acquired world English language rights to Greta’s Story: The Schoolgirl Who Went on Strike to Save the Planet (Valentina Camerini, illus by Veronica ‘Veci’ Carratello) from Italian publisher D’Agostini.

Scholastic Australia has sold US and Canadian rights to I’m Australian Too by bestselling children’s author Mem Fox and illustrator Ronojoy Ghosh. The picture book, which will be published in the US under the title I’m an Immigrant Too!, celebrates the many people from around the world who have made Australia their home.

HarperCollins Australia has sold world Spanish-language and Catalan translation rights to three titles in ‘Ruby Red Shoes’ by Kate Knapp—a series of picture books about a ‘very aware hare’ who lives in a caravan with her grandmother—to Grupo Editorial Luis Vives—Edelvives.


Scholastic Australia has acquired world rights to two children’s books written and illustrated by Australian TV personality Rove McManus: the picture book Disgusting McGrossface and junior fiction Rocky Lobstar, the first in a planned series. Scholastic head of publishing Andrew Berkhut said McManus is ‘not only funny, clever and talented, but he has an amazing imagination to write and illustrate hilarious stories for children’.

Hachette Australia has acquired ANZ rights to a middle-grade novel, The Year the Maps Changed, and a yet-to-be-titled YA novel by literary agent Danielle Binks. The Year the Maps Changed is set in a Victorian coastal town in 1999 during the events of ‘Operation Safe Haven’, when the Australian government welcomed some 6000 Kosovar refugees, and takes place over a year in 12-year-old Winifred’s life ‘when everything’s already changing at home, and then the outside world seems to come crashing in’.

Allen & Unwin has acquired ANZ rights to the YA trilogy ‘Dark Rise’ by C S Pacat, author of the adult trilogy ‘Captive Prince’. ‘Dark Rise’ is set in an alternate London where ‘the heroes and villains of long-forgotten war are being reborn, ushering in a dangerous new age of magic’. According to Publishers Weekly, HarperCollins acquired North American rights at auction for a sum ‘rumoured to be in the high-six-figure range’.

Text has acquired world rights to Georgina Young’s Text Prize-winning YA novel Loner, a ‘humorous and heartfelt exploration of new adulthood’, which follows Lona, a girl who spends her days sneaking into the dark room at her old art school and DJing at the roller disco, until she meets a ‘bass-playing, cello-shredding, charming-as-all-hell suitor’. Young’s novel was chosen from almost 300 entries for the publisher’s unpublished manuscript prize.

Screen adaptations

Krystal Sutherland’s YA novel Our Chemical Hearts (Penguin)—about a high school boy who falls for the mysterious new girl while working on their student newspaper—is being adapted for film by Amazon Studios.

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


Speech Pathology Book Awards shortlist announced

The shortlists for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards have been announced. The books are judged on their ‘appeal to children, interactive quality and ability to assist speech pathologists and parents in communication and literacy development’.


‘The Big Bad Wolf’ tops Australian children’s fiction bestsellers chart

Aaron Blabey is having an exceptional month, with The Big Bad Wolf: The Bad Guys Episode Nine leading the Australian children’s fiction bestsellers chart in June and ‘The Bad Guys’ series topping a recent NYT children’s series chart. A film adaptation of the series is also in the works. Meanwhile, the prolific Anh Do has three titles from three different children’s book series in the top 10: Movie Time! Hotdog! Book Six, Hopping Weird! WeirDo Book 12 and Ninja Switch! Ninja Kid Book Three.

Australian children’s fiction bestsellers: June

  1. The Big Bad Wolf: The Bad Guys Episode Nine (Aaron Blabey, Omnibus)
  2. Movie Time! Hotdog! Book Six (Anh Do, Omnibus)
  3. Hopping Weird! WeirDo Book 12 (Anh Do, Omnibus)
  4. Funny Kid Slapstick: Funny Kid Book Five (Matt Stanton, ABC Books)
  5. The 13-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan)
  6. Gym Squad Tumble: Ella Diaries Book 16 (Meredith Costain, Scholastic)
  7. The Search for the Silver Witch: Polly and Buster Book Three (Sally Rippin, Hardie Grant Egmont)
  8. Ninja Switch! Ninja Kid Book Three (Anh Do, Scholastic)
  9. The Happy Unicorn: Pearl Book Four (Sally Odgers, Scholastic)
  10. The 104-Storey Treehouse (Andy Griffiths, illus by Terry Denton, Pan)

© Nielsen BookScan 2019
Period covered: 2–29 June 2019
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




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