Think Australian Junior newsletter
Image. Advertisement:
Inside the Australian book industry

Self-published ‘Dinner Detectives’ series to be adapted for TV

Last year, Australian children’s book creators Yves Stening and Nigel Buchanan won a pitching competition at the world’s biggest children’s entertainment industry event, MIPJunior, for their self-published picture-book series ‘Dinner Detectives’. The series, which follows two siblings as they travel back in time and around the world learning about the history of the food we eat today, was suddenly hot property. This month, it was announced that an Australian production studio has acquired world broadcast and digital content rights to the books, with plans to develop them into an animated children’s television series.

Also in rights news this month, independent children’s publisher Windy Hollow has made its first North American rights sale for the picture book Ivy Bird by Tania McCartney and Jess Racklyeft. The deal, negotiated by Natasha Solomun at the Rights Hive, followed a meeting between the publishers at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair this year.

Andrea Hanke
Think Australian

Image. Advertisement:

Windy Hollow makes first North American sale

Independent children’s publisher Windy Hollow has sold North American rights to the picture book Ivy Bird (Tania McCartney, illus by Jess Racklyeft) to Blue Dot Books. Ivy Bird introduces younger children to ‘an aviary of beautiful birds’, and is a ‘celebration of nature, friendship, and the love and comfort found in feathering the nest’.

Hardie Grant Egmont has sold US rights to Susann Hoffman’s Girls are Pretty … (smart, clever, fast) and Boys Will Be … (kind, calm, creative) to Penguin Philomel, which will publish the two books as a flip picture book called You Are Awesome. Hardie Grant Egmont described the books—which reject gender stereotypes for small children—as ‘inclusive, uplifting and celebratory’. Hardie Grant Egmont has also sold US and Canadian rights to rhyming picture book All of the Factors of Why I Love Tractors (Davina Bell, illus by Jenny Løvlie) to HarperCollins imprint Greenwillow. Released this month in Australia, All of the Factors of Why I Love Tractors has already been reprinted, and the publisher has commissioned a second as yet unnamed book by the pair for release in 2021.

Penguin Random House Australia has sold UK and Commonwealth rights (ex ANZ) to the YA debut novel You Must Be Layla by Sudanese-Australian writer, engineer and social advocate Yassmin Abdel-Magied. The story follows 13-year-old Layla as she navigates a new school and sets her sights on winning an invention competition. PRH UK Children’s publisher Ruth Knowles said: ‘Layla isn’t someone we yet see often enough in books for our young people and so we are proud and pleased to give this sparky, incredibly lovable character and her story the chance to charm and entertain fans of Jacqueline Wilson and readers of books like Ella on the Outside.’

Fremantle Press has sold simplified Chinese-language rights to Kyle Hughes-Odgers’ picture book On a Small Island to United Sky (Beijing) New Media for mainland China; and Turkish-language rights to Hughes-Odgers’ One Thousand Trees and Can a Skeleton have an X-Ray to A7 Kitap Publishers.


Penguin Random House Australia (PRH) has acquired ANZ rights to a new series from YA author Lynette Noni titled ‘The Prison Healer’. Rights were acquired in an eight-way auction via Jenny Meyer of Jenny Meyer Literary Agency, on behalf of Noni’s US agent, Danielle Burby of Nelson Literary Agency. Rights to ‘The Prison Healer’ have already sold at auction in Brazil, with auctions currently underway for territories including Germany and Hungary. North American and UK publishing deals are ‘expected to be announced shortly’. Noni’s bestselling ‘Medoran Chronicles’ fantasy series has sold more than 100,000 copies since the first book, Akarnae, was published in 2015, while the dystopian thriller Whisper recently won the 2019 Gold Inky Award.

MidnightSun Publishing has acquired world rights to Sophie Masson’s YA speculative fiction novel The Ghost Squad. Set in ‘an alternative yet jarringly familiar reality’, The Ghost Squad follows 16-year-old Polly after her mother, a respected homicide detective, goes missing, and Polly is subsequently catapulted into a very different world. MidnightSun director Anna Solding called The Ghost Squad ‘an exciting hybrid narrative that blends realism with the disorienting atmosphere of speculative fiction, mixing elements of detective fiction and ghost stories’. Masson is a children’s publisher and the author of more than 60 novels.

Screen adaptations

Australian production studio BES Animation has acquired world broadcast and digital content rights to the self-published picture-book series ‘Dinner Detectives’, with plans to develop the books into an animated children’s television series. The picture books, which attracted global interest when creators Yves Stening and Nigel Buchanan won Best IP Pitch at MIP Junior in 2018, follows siblings Clementine and Aksel, who travel back in time and around the world learning about the history of the food we eat today.

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


Children’s books honoured at environment awards

Three children’s books with environmental themes have been honoured at the Wilderness Society’s Environment Award for Children’s Literature. They are: the picture book The All New Must Have Orange 430 (Michael Speechley, Viking), which explores our obsession with owning stuff; junior fiction Maxi the Lifeguard: The Stormy Protest (Trent Maxwell & David Lawrence, illus by Peter Baldwin, Affirm); and children’s nonfiction Bouncing Back: An Eastern Barred Bandicoot Story (Rohan Cleave & Coral Tulloch, CSIRO Publishing). The awards are presented to books that ‘foster a love of wild places and wildlife in young Australians’ and ‘encourage a sense of responsibility for our natural world’.

Zobi and the Zoox: A Story of Coral Bleaching (Ailsa Wild, Aviva Reed, Briony Barr & Gregory Crocetti, CSIRO Publishing) has won the Whitley Medal, presented by the Royal Zoological Society of NSW for outstanding publications that profile the unique wildlife of the Australasian region.

Writer Clare Atkins and illustrator Lisa Kennedy have been selected for the 2020 International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honour List. Atkins was chosen for her YA novel Between Us (Black Inc.) and Kennedy for her illustrations in Wilam: A Birrarung story (Aunty Joy Murphy & Andrew Kelly, Walker Books).

Six books by Australian and New Zealand authors and illustrators have been included in the 2019 White Ravens list for international children’s and youth literature.

A number of children’s and YA books have been shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the Queensland Literary Awards.


‘Definitely Do Not Open This Book’ tops Australian picture book bestsellers chart

Australian picture book bestsellers: September

Andy Lee’s fourth picture book, Definitely Do Not Open This Book (illus by Heath McKenzie), which encourages children not to turn the pages with hilarious results, is at the top of this month’s Australian picture book bestsellers chart. It’s joined by several other new titles in long-running series, including Matt Cosgrove’s Macca’s Makeover and Aaron Blabey’s Pig the Tourist. Mem Fox’s timeless picture books are never far from the top 10 (this month she has three titles in the chart), while debut titles from several Australian entertainers—Rove McManus’ Disgusting McGrossface and Tiffiny Hall and Ed Kavalee’s A First Time for Everything—have also made it into the chart.

  1. Definitely Do Not Open This Book (Andy Lee & Heath McKenzie, Lake Press)
  2. Macca’s Makeover (Matt Cosgrove, Scholastic)
  3. Pig the Tourist (Aaron, Blabey, Scholastic)
  4. Where Is the Green Sheep? (Mem Fox & Judy Horacek, Puffin)
  5. Disgusting McGrossface (Rove McManus, Scholastic)
  6. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (Mem Fox & Helen Oxenbury, Puffin)
  7. Possum Magic 35th Anniversary Edition (Mem Fox & Julie Vivas, Scholastic)
  8. The Return of Thelma the Unicorn (Aaron Blabey, Scholastic)
  9. A First Time for Everything (Tiffiny Hall, Ed Kavalee & Anil Tortop, Albert Street Books)
  10. Do Not Open This Book (Andy Lee & Heath McKenzie, Lake Press)

© Nielsen BookScan 2019
Period covered: 1–28 September 2019
Data supplied by Nielsen BookScan’s book sales monitoring system from 1000 retailers nationwide




Contact us


News editor
Brad Jefferies

Acting editor, newsletters
Matthia Dempsey

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