Today on the blog I welcome Matilda Woods, author of the gorgeous The Boy, The Bird & The Coffin-Maker, as part of her blog tour. Matilda will be discussing her top 5 Australian children’s authors and why she loves them. This is a great look at some wonderful storytellers from the other side of the globe and why they’re worth your time investigating.
What do you love about Australian literature? Recommend your top 5 Australian children’s writers?
For me, one of the great joys of reading Australian literature is seeing the familiar on the page. So many of the books being published in Australia today are written by UK and American authors. While I really love the escapism of these books, there is something really wonderful about opening a book and reading about a character who eats Vegemite, a house that stands beside a paddock of eucalyptus trees or an item that’s mysteriously “gone walkabout.” Below are my top 5 Australian children’s book writers and what made me fall in love with their stories.
- Jackie French
I love everything that Jackie French writes and everything that she does outside of writing too. She is one of Australia’s most well-loved children’s authors and has dedicated her life to enhancing children’s literacy, saving the environment and rescuing wombats! She has written over two hundred books, for both children and adult readers. Her books are full of heart and love for the Australian landscape.
My top picks: Diary of a Wombat and the Dinkum History Series
- Paul Jennings
Paul Jennings is a prolific Australian author. His books are generally geared towards a younger age-group (7-14) and contain a lot of gross, laugh-out-loud humour. Some of his stories were a bit too wacky for me, but I really enjoyed the Wicked! collection of stories (some of them were properly creepy!) and absolutely loved the TV remake of Round the Twist.
My top picks: Wicked! and Round the Twist
- John Marsden
I discovered John Marsden’s work while in Year 9. It was a series called “Tomorrow, When the War Began.” We had to read the first book for school but I soon devoured all seven books in the series. The series is set in Australia and tells the story of a group of teenagers who discover that Australia has been invaded by an army. They manage to evade capture and have to fight to save their family. I had a lot of trouble sleeping at night while I read these stories and to this day I still occasionally have nightmares about waking up and finding that the country has been invaded!
My top picks: Tomorrow, When the War Began (Series)
- Emily Rodda
I fell in love with Emily Rodda’s stories during my first year of high school. I still remember how shocked (and delighted) I was when the school librarian told me that she was an Australian writer. I love the mysteries that are embedded in each of her stories and how she always ties up every loose end. They are a bit Harry Potter-ish. Once I start to read one of her stories, I can not put it down.
My top picks: Rowan of Rin (Series), Deltora Quest (Series) and Rondo (Series)
- Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan is an artist, writer and film-maker. In Australia he is probably best known for his “picture books.” However, these aren’t your ordinary children’s books. They deal with issues such as depression, loneliness and the impacts of colonisation. I first read one of Tan’s books – The Lost Thing – when I was in my twenties and immediately fell in love with it. His images are intricate, haunting and original. Using a hand-full of words he can create a tale that stays with you for years. His books are like little pieces of artwork.
My top picks: The Arrival, The Lost Thing and Tales from Outer Suburbia
The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker by Matilda Wood is published 4 May 2017
by Scholastic Children’s Books