By Christopher Cheng
Australia is blessed with a wealth of talented children’s literature creators from stunning picture book creators to the authors who create riveting novels for older readers and young adults. Many of these titles are also published internationally. In the following article I will be highlighting just a few of my *current* favourite creators of great Australian children’s books that you might find on your bookshelves and in your libraries in America. Included with the short information about each of the creators and some of their books I have listed their prime website (if they have one) so that you can dig further and sample more of these wonderful aussies!
Other creators to watch out for on your shelves include: Graeme Base, Colin Thompson and look for the Max character in every picture book; Graeme Base is known worldwide for his intricate artwork created for the internationally award winning animal-filled alphabet title Animalia (just try NOT following the clues in the book) John Flannagan the creator of the NY Times Best-Selling series, Rangers Apprentice; John Marsden author of the ground breaking young adult 7 book series that begins with Tomorrow when the world began which is currently being developed into a film; Julie Vivas (X) created the exquisite illustrations for Possum magic – Australia’s adored picture book. Look out for Cuddle time, The nativity and Let’s go visiting! Julie’s artwork is amazing! Libby Hathorn wrote the award winning Way home (see Rogers above) and also Thunderwith (which was made into a telemovie called The Echo of Thunder starring Judy Davis); Natalie Jane Prior has many creations including The Lilly Quench series of books, the newly published Minivers, and The paw series of books); and Stephen Michael King another illustrator/author whose recent title Leaf is a delightful exploration of a nearly wordless picture book with a child, a mom, and a tree growing in the most unusual of places!
And lastly, because I was told to, there is me Christopher Cheng. I write, non fiction, historical fiction and picture books including One child which was illustrated by Steven Woolman. But I have also ventured into the world of children’s musicals (score by S. Beth May, a professor of music at a Texas college) with Pa’s Christmas star – a Christmas musical (website coming really soon – watch my website for links)!
So that is a brief encounter of some (we have many, many more) of our great Australian children’s book creators that you might find on your bookshelves. If you can’t buy the books, then borrow them, snaffle them, chase them, cry out for them … but what ever you do make sure you READ them. You will love the experience and want more!!!!