Australian Innovators

The 1970’s marked the coming of age for Australian children’s literature, says YA writer Susanne Gervay. “There was a new breed of children’s authors and illustrators reflecting a confidence in an Australian identity and its landscape in all its diversity.” Contributing to the subsequent explosion of “best selling wickedly irreverent kids’ books” was the writers’ use of quirky Australian humor.

Among the writers of those “innovative, brazenly Australian” early books for children, Gervay cites Di Bates, a prolific writer who is still a bundle of energy. Bates produces a fortnightly online newsletter, Buzz Words, with industry news for writers, editors, illustrators and librarians. Subscribers also receive Books Buzz, a monthly compendium of reviews of new books by Australian children’s writers. Alliteration-loving Bates’ latest books are Big Bad Bruce and The Hold-Up Heroes.

Gervay’s own recent innovations in children’s literature are cross-media and inter-generational collaborations. After publishing frank and open YA books treating disability (Butterflies) and bullying (I Am Jack), her most recent book, That’s Why I Wrote This Song, was inspired by her rock musician daughter Tory’s lyrics and tune. Tory and Susanne now do speaking gigs together, and Susanne’s website features links to MySpace and YouTube. Her expertise on Cutting Edge YA Literature was featured in the July PaperTigers update. And here’s Aline’s recent blog post, with more details on Gervay’s cross-media innovations.

2 Responses to “Australian Innovators”

  1. Jeannine Cuevas Says:

    My son absolutely loved Elizabeth Honey’s book Don’t Pat the Wombat, about a middle school age camping trip. This very funny book is full of Australian slang, but that only makes it more entertaining to read. The blood-sucking leaches are what the kids will really go for, though, of course. I encourage anyone with a kid in the 8-11 sort of range to pick this one up. It’s available in the States from Yearling and originally published by Allen & Unwin in Australia.

  2. Charlotte Says:

    Thanks for adding a wombat book to our Aussie favorites, Jeannine!

    Since you broght them up, I’ll add another wombat book, Jackie French’s classic picture book, Diary of a Wombat, illustrated by Bruce Whatley. Jackie has a story about the book on her website ( This book has won most every award going and has delighted young readers for decades. Warning: not for families aiming for type A kids; this wombat is a real sleeper!