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Jackie French – Australian Children’s Laureate

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Every two years a new Children’s Laureate is announced and for the next two years we have the wonderful Jackie French filling that role.

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Jackie may be known best for her Diary of a Wombat books, but her back catalogue is one of great variety coving many ages and many genres. She has some wonderful historical books for middle grade readers.

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Other picture books,

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And a fun series about Phreddie the Fairy who is much more my sort of fairy than the usual ones we get to read about.

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She also has some wonderful YA titles.

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“This is a chance to give back,” she said of the high-profile appointment. “When I was a very, very scared teenager my wonderful teacher gave me books and also offered me a bed to sleep in. And if it hadn’t been for her, and her courage, I would not be a writer and I might not even be here today.

“In a little way over the next two years I want to give back what I have been given…Every child in Australia needs a book to go to bed with, and a bed to read that book in,” she said. “Every child in Australia can learn to read and for kids like me who are dyslexic, with spelling that you might call ‘original’, and whose work always looks like a wombat has sat on it, never feel that you are dumb, never feel that you have failed.”

This can only be a good thing for children’s literature.

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Christmas Wombat

By: Jackie French

Illustrated By: Bruce Whatley

Wombat is still very busy sleeping in and eating carrots. This time she finds a new and unexpected windfall of her favourite orange vegetable. The abundance comes with a hitch in her plans as she comes up against a strange new creature – a reindeer and ends up going on rather a long trip.

This is a wonderfully fun addition to the Wombat series. The text is perfect for the very young, simple and fun. The illustrations are bright in keeping with the season and charming in keeping with Whatley’s unique and appealing style.

An enjoyable and distinctly Australian story with a christmas theme.

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd

Published: 01 October 2011

Format: Hardback 32 pages

Categories: Animal Stories, Christmas

ISBN 13: 9780732291716

Purchase: here or use link on side of the page to Booktopia

A Phaery Named Phredde

By: Jackie French

Phredde is a phaery, she is tiny, ferocious and her proper name is Ethereal. She is Pru’s best friend. Pru had never met a phaery before Phredde’s family moved in next door and it turns out that having a phaery as a best friend is grand and fun in a whole lot of ways. Then Pru’s brother thinks he’s turning into a werewolf, her vampire teacher turns 400 and a dragon starts getting into the rubbish bins. Things get a little strange but still a whole lot of fun when there is magic involved.

This is a fun collection of stories about phaeries (not fairies), magic, mythical creatures and friendship. The stories are entertaining and easy to understand, the format of this book puts it a step up from beginning chapter books, with each story coming in at around 25 pages there and no real illustrations. The take on vampires, werewoves and dragons are all very age appropriate and French’s easy style is a pleasure to read. I will say this, if you are looking for something more traditionally ‘young girl fairy’ in style then this probably isn’t where you should go as Phredde is more rock ‘n’ roll that ballet, but her attitude is what makes her so fun.

Publisher: HarperCollins (Australia) Children’s

Published: 28 January 2004

Format: Paperback 128 pages

Categories: Fairies, Friendship

ISBN 13: 9780207200007

Purchase: use the Booktopia logo on the side of the page

‘The Tomorrow Book’ Wins Environment Award

The 2011 Wilderness Society Environment Award for Children’s Literature has been awarded to The Tomorrow Book by Jackie French and Sue deGennaro (HarperCollins).

This award was established in 1993 and for a book to be eligible it has to encourage caring for the natural environment.

The Society said in a statement that The Tomorrow Book ‘is a story of ideas and hope, demonstrating possible solutions to water conservation, consumer waste, pollution and wildlife protection.’

‘While the tone of the book is imaginative and light-hearted, it promotes a thoughtful and creative approach to environmental problems.’

Picture Books Theme – Australian Animals

Many, many times we get asked to recommend picture books that feature Australian Animals so here is a list of some of the popular ones, and probably not so popular. These are in no particular order.

Little Wombat books – Charles Fuge

Wombat Stew – Marcia Vaughn

Emily and the Big, Bad Bunyip – Jackie French

Josephine Wants to Dance – Jackie French

Diary of a Wombat – Jackie French

Possum Magic – Mem Fox

Koala Lou – Mem Fox

Yes We Can – Sam McBratney

The Cocky Who Cried Dingo – Yvonne Morrison

Aussie Author Month

April is Aussie Author Month. A time we readers get to celebrate some of the awesome creative talent Australia has produced. In children’s literature there are plenty of wonderful authors to discover, rediscover or just continue to enjoy.

Below is a list of just a few people, and an example of their work,  worth checking out and celebrating.

Michael Pryor – Laws of Magic (Series)

John Marsden – Tomorrow When The War Began (Series)

Margo Lanagan – Tender Morsels

Justine Labalestier – Liar

Marianne de Pierres – Burn Bright

Matthew Reilly – Hover Car Racer

Kirsty Murray – India Dark

Karen Tayleur – Hostage

Jackie French – Lessons For A Werewolf Warrior

John Flanagan – Rangers Apprentice Series

Andy Griffiths – The Day My Bum Went Psycho

Wendy Harmer – Pearlie Series

Andrew Daddo – Skoz the Dog

Paul Jennings – Rascal the Dragon Series

Aaron Blabey – Sunday Chutney

This list is by no means conclusive, there are many wonderful Aussie authors not mentioned. I just encourage you to pick up an old favourite or find something new as a way to join in the celebrations of Aussie Author month.

2011 Get Reading! Campaign

In Sydney today the 2011 Get Reading! campaign was launched with the release of the ’50 Books You Can’t Put Down’ list for this year.

This year’s campaign will run from 29 August to 30 September.

The reading guide this year features 35 Australian titles, with 13 of the 50 titles children’s/ young adult books.

The children’s and YA titles are:

Baby Wombats Week Board Book (Jackie French & Bruce Whatley)

The Flying Orchestra (Clare McFadden, UQP)

Mr Badger and the Big Surprise (Leigh Hobbs, A&U)

Billie B Brown: The Secret Message (Sally Rippin & Aki Fukuoka, HGE)

The Three Doors #1: The Golden Door (Emily Rodda)

Museum of Thieves (Lian Tanner, A&U)

Troubletwisters (Garth Nix & Sean Williams, A&U)

Mice (Gordon Reece, A&U)

Last Sacrifice: Vampire Academy V6 (Richelle Mead, Penguin)

Passion (Lauren Kate, Doubleday)

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)

Lament (Maggie Stiefvater)

Heroes of Olympus – The Lost Hero (Rick Riordan, Puffin)

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