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My friend Fred gets excited when …

My Friend Fred

he learns he has WON the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Award: Early Childhood!!!


I’m utterly chuffed to learn that …

Leonard Doesnt Dance'

Leonard Doesn’t Dance — co-created with the glorious Judy Watson, has been selected by the International Youth Library for the prestigious 2020 White Ravens catalogue celebrating noteworthy books from around the world.


Beware the curse of the sacred chicken!

The Chicken's Curse''

What is most astonishing about The Chicken’s Curse, a ripping adventure in which two runaways are pursued across the Roman empire — variously helped and hindered by a foolish camel, a grumpy magic carpet and a supremely selfish sacred chicken — is how much I DIDN’T make up!


Say what?

Say Cheese''

Say Cheese! You know how they say you should never work with children or animals? Well photographer Maxwell Mouse finds himself in a world of trouble when it’s school photo time at South Furriest PS! (I, on the other hand, found myself in a world of delight working with ace illustrator Marjorie Crosby-Fairall!)



Leonard Doesnt Dance'

A new book with feathered friend and illustrious illustrator Judy Watson is a cause for celebration … and that means dancing! LEONARD DOESN’T DANCE is a toe-tapping story about finding your own rhythm. (And, oh, how I love the illustrations!)


Sausage (dog) sizzle!

My Friend Fred

Although I am really a cat person, I make an exception for sausage dogs — and a BIG exception for Fred! This delightful dachshund has a rather unusual best friend … as you will discover in MY FRIEND FRED (with utterly charming illustrations by A. Yi).


It’s a what?

It's a story, Rory!'

I’m thrilled to introduce my new book with illustrator David Legge! In our fifth collaboration, we are doing what we love best: exploring out how stories are told through both words and pictures.

‘Hey, Milly, why are we on this blank page?’
‘It won’t be blank for long. We’re going to be in a story, Rory!’

Rory has never been in a story before and he’s not quite sure how one works. Luckily, he and his friend Milly have a helpful voice on the page to guide them (that’s me — the narrator!) as they encounter an exciting plot, spectacular settings and some very funny characters.

So, open the cover and discover the amazing world of storytelling.


The perfect Christmas quacker!

A Very Quacky Christmas

Samantha Duck is getting ready for Christmas. ‘I’m going to give presents to animals all over the world!’

Her friend Sebastian tells her not to bother. ‘Christmas is not for animals,’ he says.

But with the help of her farmyard friends, Samantha sets out to prove that Christmas is for everyone.

A joyous tale of giving and sharing.


More smell-odorous adventures!

2 Stinky

Brian and Nerf are back in a brand-new series of revoltingly runk, truly toxious and sickeningly smell-odorous adventures…


Introducing Alex Ratt

Stinky Street Stories Alex Ratt

New(ish) year, new me! I’ve been writing funny(-smelling) stories in a new, less fragrant persona: Alex Ratt, author of The Stinky Street Stories (illustrated by Jules Faber).

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The Peony Lantern

That’s Japanese for HOORAY! The hooray is for The Peony Lantern being shortlisted in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards for the Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature.

border The Fearsome, Frightening, Ferocious Box


The Fearsome, Frightening, Ferocious Box has been shortlisted for the REAL children’s choice awards (NSW, Vic, ACT, NT) for the second year running. Obviously the kids of Australia don’t scare easily!

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The kids are taking over!

The kids’ and YA program of the Sydney Writers’ Festival gets bigger and better every year. On Sunday 22 May 2016, we’re taking over Pier 4/5 completely! I’ll be in the Bureau of Artistics at 12.30, sharing my books at the Storytime Clubhouse.

border The Peony Lantern

‘Lyrical, fascinating and evocative’

(That’s what the wonderful Jackie French says about my new book!)

When Kasumi leaves her remote village in the teeming city of Edo, her life is transformed. As a lady-in-waiting in a samurai mansion she discovers a rare talent for art and falls in love with a young samurai. How could she ever return to the life of a simple mountain girl?

But Kasumi must set aside her own concerns. Her country is on the brink of change and Edo is simmering with tension. And her mistress has a dangerous secret—a secret that Kasumi is gradually drawn into…

Set against the vivid backdrop of nineteenth-century Japan, The Peony Lantern is a powerful story of art, love and friendship, and finding your own path.

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Ten years of Kisses!

I’m so excited to see this new edition of Kisses for Daddy to celebrate ten years of publication.

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Now in paperback!

My favourite rat is looking very handsome in a new paperback edition!

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My new book is out now!

On the eve of her fifteenth birthday, Claudia is unexpectedly summoned to Rome by the father she hasn’t seen in ten years, a wealthy and powerful senator. She finds herself with both a new family and a luxurious new home in the capital of the world’s greatest empire.

But Claudia soon discovers a contest of power and ambition is secretly being waged—and she is the prize. Torn between two rivals for her hand in marriage, she must choose between her duty and her heart…a choice that could have deadly consequences.

A gripping mystery of love and intrigue set in Ancient Rome.

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What’s better than one Sword Girl book?

SIX Sword Girl books…in one volume!

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INTRODUCING… something in a box!

Hooray! My fourth collaboration with that dastardly genius David Legge is out now!

At first your eyes will not believe,
Such terrors they can scarce conceive,
But come, look closely; you will see
Horrific creatures just like me.

Open the box, if you dare,
But danger lies within: beware!

From the award-winning duo who brought you Kisses for Daddy and Captain Crabclaw’s Crew comes a fearsome, frightening, ferocious tale for the very brave of heart…

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New SWORD GIRL titles out now!

The Terrible Trickster

‘Tricksters are not welcome here.’

Someone is playing tricks at Flamant Castle. At first they seem funny, but Sir Benedict is not amused. He thinks the trickster is Tommy — and unless the tricks stop, he will send her away from the castle! Can she find out who the real trickster is before she is banished forever?

Pigeon Problems

‘The pigeon is missing!’

It’s Lady Beatrix’s birthday, and Sir Walter is planning all kinds of treats. Everyone at Flamant Castle is excited … except the pigeon. But the pigeon is needed for a very special job — and when he goes missing, it looks like Sir Walter’s plans will be ruined. Can Tommy find her friend and save the celebrations?

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WA kids love Sword Girl!

It’s always exciting to be nominated in children’s choice awards — they are the readers, after all! So I’m delighted that the first book in the Sword Girl series, The Secret of the Swords, has made the Young Readers list of WAYRBA 2013 (that’s the WA Young Readers Book Awards). What a lovely start to the year!

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I’m so excited to be a National Year of Reading national ambassador. I’ll be touring Tasmania, NSW and South Australia from 26 November to 4 December, so do come along to any of the fun, free storytelling sessions!


Monday 26 November at 2pm
Special event with St Joseph’s Catholic School, Overall Tasmanian Winner of the “Are We There Yet” school writing competition
Venue: St Joseph’s Catholic School, 1 Pontifex Street, Queenstown. Cost: Free.

Tuesday 27 November at 9.30am
Special story time with Frances Watts for pre-schoolers and parents, and early primary children
Venue: Queenstown LINC, 9-13 Driffield St, Queenstown. Cost: Free. Bookings: (03) 6471 5960.

Tuesday 27 November at 2pm
Special story time with Frances Watts for pre-schoolers and parents, and early primary children
Venue: Glenorchy LINC, 4 Terry St, Glenorchy. Cost: Free. Bookings: (03) 6233 8663.


Wednesday 28 November at 2pm
Special event with Kambala Primary, Overall NSW Winner of the “Are We There Yet” school writing competition
Venue: Kambala, 794 New South Head Road, Rose Bay. Cost: Free.

Thursday 29 November at 10.30am
Special story time with Frances Watts for early primary children
Venue: Belmont Library, 19 Ernest St, Belmont. Cost: Free. Bookings: (02) 4921 0463.

Thursday 29 November at 2pm
Special story time with Frances Watts for early primary children
Venue: Kurri Kurri Library, Allsworth St, Kurri Kurri. Cost: Free. Bookings: (02) 4937 1638.

Friday 30 November at 11.30am
Special story time with Frances Watts for Untangled Tales! Launch of the Rockdale City Library Summer Reading Club
Venue: Rockdale City Library, 448 Princes Highway, Rockdale. Cost: Free. Bookings: (02) 9562 1821.


Sunday 2 December at 3.30pm
Special story time with Frances Watts for parents and children
Venue: Coober Pedy Library, Coober Pedy. Cost: Free. Bookings (08) 8672 4635

Monday 3 December at 9.30am
Special story time with Frances Watts for early primary children and parents and young children
Venue: Coober Pedy Library, Coober Pedy. Cost: Free. Bookings (08) 8672 4635

Tuesday 4 December at 9am
Special event with St Mary’s, Overall SA Winner of the “Are We There Yet” school writing competition
Venue: St Mary’s School, 253 Franklin St, Adelaide. Cost: Free.

Tuesday 4 December at 11am
Special story time with Frances Watts for early primary children and parents and young children Venue: Glenelg Library, 2 Colley Terrace, Glenelg. Cost: Free. Bookings: (08) 8295 2580.


KOALA Awards

Rat in a Stripy Sock

I had a lovely surprise at the KOALA awards (the NSW children’s choice awards) this year — A Rat in a Stripy Sock, illustrated by my partner David Francis, was an Honour Book in the Picture Book category! Big congrats to Colin Thompson & Sarah Davis for their winning book, the warm and funny Fearless in Love.

border Tournament Trouble and The Siege Scare

Sword Girl!

‘There is energy, excitement, wit and a gentle wisdom in this chapter book series…’—Magpies

The adventures of Tommy — Flamant Castle’s kitchen girl turned Keeper of the Blades — continue with two new titles:

Tournament Trouble

‘I want you to fight in the tournament, Tommy.’

Flamant Castle is having a tournament! But when one of the squires is injured during practice, Sir Benedict asks Tommy to take his place. He even offers her one of his own horses to ride. It’s a dream come true for Tommy. There’s just one problem: she has never ridden a horse before—and every time she tries to ride Bess, the horse throws her off! Time is running out… How will Tommy be able to compete?

The Siege Scare

‘We’re under siege!’

When Sir Walter, Sir Benedict and the other knights go to nearby Roses Castle for a tournament, the enemy knights from Malice attack Flamant. The only hope of rescue lies in getting a message to Sir Benedict, a day’s ride away. But the castle is surrounded and there’s no way out! With the help of her friends, Tommy devises a daring plan. Can she save Flamant Castle before it’s too late?

border The Secret of Zanzibar

The thrilling conclusion!

The final book in the Gerander trilogy is out now in Australia and New Zealand!

‘So many secrets … so many lies …’

Time is running out, as Queen Eugenia prepares to crown herself absolute ruler of Greater Gerander.

And so Alistair and Tibby Rose travel deep into dangerous territory on a daring mission to stop her, while Alice and Alex risk their lives by returning to the enemy stronghold they so recently fled. They must act now to restore Zanzibar to the throne, or lose their homeland forever.

But Zanzibar has a secret. And it may cost Alistair his life …

border National Bookshop Day

National Bookshop Day

Saturday 11 August is National Bookshop Day, a day to celebrate the contribution our local bookstores make to our community. I’ll be celebrating with three of my favourite shops around Sydney:

11-11.30am:   The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft
1-2.00pm:   Shearer’s on Norton, Leichhardt
3.15-4.00pm:   Pages & Pages, Mosman.

Do pop by and say hello if you’re in the area. In fact, wherever you are, drop in to your local bookshop and show them some love!

border Goodnight Mice! Prime Minister's Literary Awards

Go Mice!

I am utterly thrilled to announce that illustrator Judy Watson and I won the Children’s Fiction category of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for our picture book, Goodnight, Mice!

The judges said: ‘The collaboration of writer and illustrator in this case makes for an almost perfect bedtime book. Watts’s words sing with rhyme and repetition, making them excellent linguistic tools for small children, while Watson’s impish, affectionate illustrations speak to families from every type of background.’

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Children’s choice

The shortlists for the REAL awards (Reading & Enjoying Australian Literature), as nominated by kids in NSW, Victoria, ACT and NT have been announced, and I’m delighted to have not one but TWO books nominated in the Picture Storybook category: Captain Crabclaw’s Crew (illustrated by David Legge) and A Rat in a Stripy Sock (illustrated by David Francis)!

And the icing on top is that The Secret of the Swords, the first book in the Sword Girl series (illustrated by Gregory Rogers), is shortlisted in the 2012 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards.

Goodnight Mice!

Hooray for Mice!

Goodnight, Mice! (illustrated by the lovely and talented Judy Watson) has been shortlisted in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards!

The Secret of the Ginger Mice

The Secret of the Ginger Mice

‘ripping, gripping mystery and adventure’—Kirkus Reviews

‘a winning adventure’—Publishers Weekly

The Secret of the Ginger Mice (published in Australia as The Song of the Winns) has just been released in the US. It’s an absolutely gorgeous edition!

The Poison Plot The Secret of the Swords

NEW BOOKS! And an old favourite now in paperback!

I’m ringing in April with an embarrassment of riches this year. The first two titles of a brand-new series, Sword Girl (illustrated by the wonderful Gregory Rogers), have just hit the shelves.

The Secret of the Swords

‘Sir Walter’s sword has been stolen!’

When Tommy is made Flamant Castle’s Keeper of the Blades, it seems her dreams of being a knight might come true. But then a valuable sword is stolen from the sword chamber. Can a surprising secret and an extra-special group of friends help her find it? Or will she be sent back to the kitchen in disgrace?

Captain Crabclaw's Crew

The Poison Plot

‘There’s a plot to poison Sir Walter!’

Sir Walter is holding a banquet at Flamant Castle — but Tommy overhears one of the castle’s enemies plotting to poison him. Unless she can foil the plot, Flamant will be at war! Can an unusual cure for a cold possibly save the day?

And I’m thrilled that Captain Crabclaw’s Crew (illustrated by the incomparable David Legge) is now in paperback!

The Spies of Gerander The Song of the Winns

Gerander Trilogy shortlisted in Book Design Awards

I am thrilled that the Gerander Trilogy has been shortlisted in the Best Designed Children’s Series category of the Australian Publishers’ Association Book Design Awards 2012… And none of the credit belongs to me! I’d like to send out big hurrahs and thanks to those who made the books look so good: the talented designer, Priscilla Nielsen; publisher Tegan Morrison, for her beautiful vision for this series; and illustrator (and my partner) David Francis, for the exquisite internal and cover illustrations.

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National Year of Reading 2012

This week is the official launch of the National Year of Reading — now that’s my kind of year! And I’ll be celebrating the launch in the perfect place: Shearer’s Bookshop in Leichhardt. Over the next two Saturday afternoons (Feb 18 and 25) the lovely Rachel will be presiding over workshops for kids to start their own Reading Journals. Chris Morphew (author of the Phoenix Files) and I will be there to chat about reading and writing and excellent methods of decorating Reading Journals. (I’m hoping to be given a free hand with a glitter pen!) For more info call Shearer’s on 9572 7766.

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It’s here!

Thank you to everyone who emailed asking when the second book in the Gerander Trilogy would be published. The answer is … NOW! (And check out the new edition of The Song of the Winns.)

‘I have a special assignment for you…’

With their country in danger, Alice and Alex are sent on an undercover mission—right into the heart of enemy territory.

Meanwhile, Alistair and Tibby Rose set out to rescue Alistair’s parents from a remote island prison. But someone is determined to stop them—someone who knows their every move. It seems FIG has a traitor…

border Heroes of the Year

Moustaches are marvellous!

False moustaches, that is … And my new book has plenty of them. Heroes of the Year is the fourth book in the Ernie and Maud series — and it’s out now!

‘A moustache?’ Super Whiz demanded.
‘On the mayor?’ gasped Valiant Vera.
‘Didn’t she always have one?’ said Desmond.

Extraordinary Ernie and Marvellous Maud have a good chance of winning the Heroes of the Year award — until a pencil-wielding fiend starts to wreak havoc in Baxter.

Can Ernie and Maud stop Pencil Pete and win the golden trophy?



I love Mudgee, so I’m very excited to be a guest at the Mudgee Readers’ Festival.

WHEN:  20-21 August
WHERE:  Quality Parklands Resort and Conference Centre, Mudgee

For more details, visit the festival website:

Hope to see you there!



The Song of the Winns and the three titles in the Ernie & Maud series are now available as e-books through Amazon, Kobo, Apple and the A&R and Borders online stores

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A new book

I have a new book to welcome to the world!

Kiss Dad once,
Cuddle Mum twice,
‘Goodnight, Mum and Dad.’
‘Goodnight, mice.’

It’s time to say goodnight — but the four cheeky mice skittering, scampering and scurrying to bed don’t seem very sleepy!

I absolutely love Judy Watson’s illustrations in Goodnight, Mice! Her cheeky, charming mice are irresistible, and the pictures are full of warmth and humour. I’m a big fan of Judy’s work; collaborating on the Ernie & Maud series has been so much fun, and I can’t wait till August when the latest Ernie & Maud book, Heroes of the Year, comes out.


Attention teachers and teacher librarians! You can now find links to teachers’ notes for Captain Crabclaw’s Crew, A Rat in a Stripy Sock and The Song of the Winns on the BOOKS page. Just look for this symbol:

Teachers' Notes symbol