Jackie French Named Australian Children’s Laureate For 2014-2015

Jackie French, best-selling author of over 140 books, including the iconic Diary of a Wombat and Hitler’s Daughter, has been announced as the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2014 – 2015.

French was presented with her Magpie Award, the symbol of the Laureate, at a ceremony at the National Library of Australia in Canberra by actor, director and former Play School presenter Rhys Muldoon.

She will take over from the inaugural Laureate – a position shared between Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor – in February 2014.

Jackie French has written over 140 fiction and non-fiction books. Her writing career spans 25 years and includes 248 wombats, 3,721 bush rats, 36 languages and over 60 awards in Australia and overseas.

Jackie has been a full time writer for over twenty years, and she is acclaimed in both literary and children’s choice awards. She is passionate about history, the environment and the conservation of wildlife and our planet. Jackie is also dyslexic, and is a strong advocate of help for children with learning difficulties.

About the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance (ACLA)

The Australian Children’s Laureate is an initiative developed by the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance, founded in 2008. The Laureate’s role is to promote the importance and transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians.

The Laureate acts as a national and international ambassador for Australian children’s literature, inspiring young people to tell their own stories and be part of an active literary culture for enjoyment, wellbeing and success in life.

The theme for French’s two-year term as Australian Children’s Laureate will be ‘Share a Story’.

Says Jackie: ‘There are a million ways to share a book or story — to read to a child on your lap; to have a child read to you while you cook dinner; to read to the dog when it has to go to the vet to calm it (or you!) down; to join a storytelling session at your library; to lend a book to your best friend; to tell your grandchildren what life was like when you were young over the phone or on Skype; to read to thousands by video conferencing; to be read a book on television by a much-loved presenter. Stories tell us who we are. They teach us empathy so we understand who others are. They give us the power to imagine and create the future.’

To find out more about what the new Australian Children’s Laureate, Jackie French, will be doing and how to get involved with Laureate projects, please visit http://www.childrenslaureate.org.au. A further celebration will take place at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on Friday 29th of November.

For regular updates on Jackie French’s Laureate program, visit: www.childrenslaureate.org.au , and follow the progress on twitter at: @Ozlaureate

Jackie French, award-winning author of Let the Land Speak, writes an exclusive guest blog for Booktoberfest

It began with a goat.

I found the goat one lazy Sunday afternoon, uploading old copies of newspapers to see what the English thought about James Cook after the Endeavour got home. And there she was, hailed as a heroine: the goat who saved the ship. Cook even took her home with him. Three years away in the South Seas, and what does he take his family? One smelly, stroppy old nanny goat. The British government granted her a pension. The August Royal Society made her a member: the only goat (and at that time the only female) ever admitted to its ranks.

Why?

The goat gave milk for the whole three years of the voyage. When the Endeavour was wrecked on the Great Barrier Reef, the goat’s dry dung was spread on an old sail then wrapped around the shattered hull. The dung drew up water, and the sail clung to the ship, making an almost watertight seal. Without those goat droppings, the ship would have been lost. Without the report from the Endeavour, the English would never have sent a colony to ‘New South Wales’.

Sometimes a bit of information goes ‘ping!’ and you see the world in a different way. I’d imagined the Endeavour, and other sailing ships of the time, to be the clean-decked vessels you see in movies. Instead they were floating arks, with live sheep, cattle, goats, pigs, and chickens. They had to make frequent stops to cut grass and pick up water for the animals so necessary for food in the days before refrigeration.

That ‘ping’ was the beginning of this book. But for years I’d also been researching historical novels, working from the documents at the time, not history books. History looks very different in diaries and letters and old newspapers.

Australians these days rarely know their land intimately – even the simplest knowledge like digging a 30cm hole to look for flood debris, or learning that turtles will plod uphill ten days before the river rises, or understanding which wattles set most seed before a bushfire summer. Every year the fires or floods seem to take the authorities by surprise.

My family are storytellers too. I grew up with Dad’s stories of World War Two and Jannie’s (my paternal grandmother) battles of the Women’s Temperance Movement to help Federate Australia and end the horrors of child labour. I collect stories. History is best learned from those who were there, either in long yarns over a cup of tea, or in their diaries. ‘Pa Jack’, my father-in-law, fought at Gallipoli. Dad’s friends died at Kokoda. (Dad’s appendix burst during embarkation. He probably survived because of it, and felt the guilt all his life.)

To understand the battles you need to understand the men who fought them. To understand those men, you need to know the land and how they lived with it.

We need to study how the land itself has shaped our nation- and will keep doing so. Desperate people on boats will continue head for our shores, as they have for 60,000 years. Other nations will keep looking covetously at our resources. Expect new plagues from migrating animals and humans, occasional tsunamis, and increasing damage to low lying parts of our coast. If the native bush in your area needs fire to germinate or regenerate, then it will burn again.

We need to listen to our land. If we fail, we will stumble into a future we can neither predict nor understand.

Click here to order Let the Land Speak from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Jackie French’s Let the Land Speak is a Booktoberfest title. Buy it now to go in the draw to win Booktopia’s weekly giveaway – a $250 Booktopia voucher – AND order by 31st October 2013 to go in the draw to win the fantastic publisher prize.

Click here for prize details and to see the full HarperCollins Showcase

Let The Land Speak

By Jackie French

To understand the present, you need to understand the past. To understand Australia’s history, you need to look at how the land has shaped not just our past, but will continue to shape our future.

From highly respected, award-winning author Jackie French comes a new and fascinating interpretation of Australian history, focusing on how the land itself, rather than social forces, shaped the major events that led to modern Australia.

Our history is mostly written by those who live, work and research in cities, but it’s the land itself which has shaped our history far more powerfully and significantly than we realise. Reinterpreting the history we think we all know – from the indigenous women who shaped the land, from Terra Incognita to Eureka, from Federation to Gallipoli and beyond, Jackie French shows us that to understand our history, we need to understand our land.

Taking us behind history and the accepted version of events, she also shows us that there’s so much we don’t understand about our history because we simply don’t understand the way life was lived at the time.

Eye-opening, refreshing, completely fascinating and unforgettable, Let the Land Speak will transform the way we understand the role and influence of the land and how it has shaped our nation.

Click here to order Let the Land Speak from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist: 40-31 as voted by you

Welcome to day two of the unveiling of Australia’s Favourite Novelist, as voted by you. Here’s the story so far:

50. Peter Temple
49. Jay Kristoff
48. Nikki Gemmell
47. Charlotte Wood
46. Andy Griffiths
45. Di Morrissey
44. Christina Stead
43. Christos Tsiolkas
42. Rachael Treasure
41. Morris Gleitzman

Don’t forget to pencil in January 25th as a big day on the calender as we celebrate the Australia Day weekend in style with the announcement of Australia’s top 10 Favourite Novelists, as well as the launch of our Australian Stories Initiative. There will also be loads of discounts and freebies on offer for the weekend.

But here we are. The countdown continues, 40-31 as voted by you.


40. Fleur Mcdonald

Fleur McDonald grew up in Orrorroo, South Australia but completed her secondary education in Adelaide.

After school she spent a couple of years jillarooing in South Australia and Western Australia.

Our Pick

Our Pick

Fleur lives with her husband and two children on a station near Esperance in Western Australia. She is highly involved in the daily management of their 8000 acres.

She is the author of the bestselling novels Red Dust, Blue Skies and Purple Roads.

Click here to go to Fleur Mcdonald’s author page


39. Jackie French

Jackie French’s writing career spans sixteen years, 42 wombats, 120 books for kids and adults, translations into nineteen languages, and slightly more awards than wombats, both in Australia and overseas.

Our Pick

Her books range from provocative historical fiction such as Hitler’s Daughter and They Came on Viking Ships to the hilarious international bestseller, Diary of a Wombat with Bruce Whatley, as well as many nonfiction titles such as The Fascinating History of Your Lunch, and To the Moon and Back (with Bryan Sullivan), the history of Australia’s Honeysuckle Creek and man’s journey to the moon.

In 2000, Hitler’s Daughter was awarded the CBC Younger Readers’ Award. To the Moon and Back won the Eve Pownall Award in 2005. Macbeth and Son, and Josephine Wants to Dance were both shortlisted for the 2007 CBC Awards.

Click here to go to Jackie French’s author page


38. Colin Thiele

Colin Milton Thiele (1920 –  2006) was renowned for his award-winning children’s fiction, most notably the novels Storm Boy, Blue Fin, the Sun on the Stubble series, and February Dragon.

Our Pick

Our Pick

Thiele wrote more than 100 books, which often described life in rural Australia, particularly the Eudunda, Barossa Valley, and Murray River/Coorong regions of South Australia. Several of his books have been made into films or television series.

In 1977 he was made a Companion of the Order of Australia, the second highest level of the order, for his services to literature and education.

Click here to go to Colin Thiele’s author page


37. Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough was born in western New South Wales in 1937. A neuroscientist by training, she worked in various Sydney and English hospitals before settling into ten years of research and teaching in the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in the USA.

Our Pick

Our Pick

In 1974 her first novel, Tim, was published in New York, followed by the bestselling The Thorn Birds in 1977 and a string of successful novels, including the acclaimed Masters of Rome series.

In 1980 she settled in Norfolk Island, where she lives with her husband, Ric Robinson, and a cat named Shady.

Click here to go to Colleen McCullough’s author page


36. Fiona Palmer

Fiona Palmer lives in the tiny rural town of Pingaring in Western Australia, three and a half hours south-east of Perth.

She discovered Danielle Steel at the age of eleven, and has now written her own brand of rural romance.

Our Pick

Our Pick

She has attended romance writers’ groups and received an Australian Society of Authors mentorship for her first novel, The Family Farm. She has followed on from its success with two more novels Heart of Gold and The Road Home.

Click here to go to Fiona Palmer’s author page


35. Patrick White

Patrick White was born in England in 1912 and taken to Australia, where his father owned a sheep farm, when he was six months old. He was educated in England and served in the RAF, before returning to Australia after World War II.

Happy Valley, White’s first novel, is set in a small country town in the Snowy Mountains and is based on his experiences in the early 1930s as a jackaroo at Bolaro, near Adaminaby in south-eastern New South Wales.

Our Pick

White went on to publish twelve further novels (one posthumously), three short-story collections and eight plays. His novels include The Aunt’s Story and Voss, which won the inaugural Miles Franklin Literary Award, The Eye of the Storm and The Twyborn Affair.

He was the first Australian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1973, and is considered one of the foremost novelists of the twentieth century.

Click here to go to Patrick White’s author page


34. David Malouf

David Malouf is the author of ten novels and six volumes of poetry.

His novel The Great World was awarded both the prestigious Commonwealth Prize and the Prix Femina Estranger. Remembering Babylon was short-listed for the Booker Prize.

Our Pick

He has also received the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. He won the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award in 2008

He has lived in England and Tuscany however for the past three decades most of his time has been spent in Sydney.

Click here to go to David Malouf’s author page


33. Tara Moss

Tara Moss is the author of the bestselling crime novels Fetish, Split, Covet, Hit and Siren. Her novels have been published in seventeen countries in eleven languages, and have earned critical acclaim around the world.

Her non-fiction writing has appeared in The Australian Literary Review, Vogue, ELLE, The Australian Women’s Weekly, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian, among other publications.

Our Pick

Moss hosted Natgeo Presents and the international crime documentary series Tara Moss Investigates on the National Geographic Channel, and has participated as a guest and panelist on numerous popular TV programs. She has also conducted hundreds of talks at literary festivals, schools, universities and corporate events.

Click here to go to Tara Moss’ author page


32. Paul Jennings

The Paul Jennings phenomenon began with the publication of Unreal! in 1985. Since then, readers all around the world have devoured his books.

Paul Jennings has written over one hundred stories and has been voted ‘favourite author’ over forty times by children in Australia, winning every children’s choice award.

Our Pick

The top-rating TV series Round the Twist and Driven Crazy are based on a selection of his enormously popular short-story collections such as Unseen! which was awarded the 1999 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Children’s Book.

In 1995 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for services to children’s literature and was awarded the prestigious Dromkeen Medal in 2001. Paul has sold more than 8 million books worldwide.

Click here to go to Paul Jenning’s author page


31. Thomas Keneally

Keneally was known as “Mick” until 1964 but began using the name Thomas when he started publishing, after advice from his publisher to use what was really his first name. He is most famous for his Schindler’s Ark (later republished as Schindler’s List), which won the Booker Prize and is the basis of the film Schindler’s List.

Our Pick

Many of his novels are reworkings of historical material, although modern in their psychology and style.

In 1983 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. In March 2009, the Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, gave an autographed copy of Keneally’s biography Lincoln to President Barack Obama as a state gift.

Click here to go to Thomas Keneally’s author page


Don’t forget to come back tomorrow at midday as we continue to countdown to Australia’s Favourite Novelist!

Get Reading with Booktopia

Here is a question for you. Is there a scent that you associate with books? I don’t mean the smell of the paper, or the leather when you walk into a room full of old books. I mean, is there a smell that immediately transports you to reading heaven? Do you associate a perfume with a particular memory of reading, or a particular book?

For me, it is an easy ask. The minute I catch even a whiff of jasmine, I am in sensory heaven – jasmine poking through the paling fence, a sprig or two tucked behind one ear, sun on my back, book in my hand, sheltered from the cold early spring wind in a walled courtyard, pot of tea steaming by my Continue reading

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