I am thrilled to announce that Lennie continues to be a legend.  Lennie the Legend (NLA Publishing) has won the Eve Pownall Award for Information Books  in the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Awards 2016. I am honoured to have been selected from such an inspirational field of shortlisted books, and to be an award winner in such illustrious company! Big thanks go to the staff at the National Library, and especially to  my publisher Susan Hall for keeping the faith! An enormous thanks also goes to my wonderful family. This book was written during one of the most difficult times in our lives, as my daughter-in-law was battling aggressive breast cancer. Unfortunately, she is not with us to celebrate Lennie’s success, but I could not have finished Lennie the Legend without her ongoing support and encouragement. This award is dedicated to Jocelyn (1978-2014), and to my son Erryn and their two gorgeous little boys, Kai and Lucien.

CBCA Award Winners 2016

The award winners.

The 2016 CBCA Award Winners: Morris Gleitzman, Fiona Wood, Stephanie Owen Reeder, Anna Walker and Allison Colpoys (absent: Nadia Wheatley and Armin Greder)



Stephanie accepts her award from the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove



I am thrilled to announce that Lennie the Legend was  shortlisted in the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards 2015, in the Young People’s History Prize category. The winners were announced at an elegant event at the State Library in Sydney on 4 September 2015. Congratulations to the winner, My Gallipolli by Ruth Starke. The Judges’ comments for the three shortlisted books are available at http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/about/awards/premiers_awards/nsw_premiers_history_awards/2015_nsw_premier%27s_history_awards/2015_pha_shortlist/2015_young_peoples_history_prize.html, and include the following comments about Lennie the Legend:

The highly innovative presentation of this book vividly draws on multiple archival sources, which makes it a real pleasure to read. The book offers a new perspective on the well-trawled history of the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge … Lennie the Legend combines a rich narrative with historical detail and impressive pictorial archives to bring the story to life for young readers … Like all good books for young readers, it also has considerable appeal for adults.  This beautifully conceived historical narrative will appeal to young readers, as well as providing a good reference book.


‘Sharing inspiring stories from Australia’s past with the children who are our future!’

In this award-winning series of historical faction or creative non-fiction, published by the National Library of Australia, I present the true stories of ordinary Australian children who have achieved amazing and/or inspirational things. After undertaking significant research into the historical period and the life of the characters, I retell their  stories in a fictionalised form, while staying as close as possible to the historical facts. Each book also features additional historical information at the end of each chapter, plus an epilogue and a range of stunning imagery from the collections of the National Library of Australia. More information on each book can be found under ‘Children’s Books’, and Teachers Notes are also available.

Titles in this series so far are:

Lost! A True Tale from the Bush, the story of the three young Duff children who survived for nine days in the Victorian bush in the 1860s (Shortlisted, CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards)

Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea, the story of teenager Grace Bussell who helped to save fifty people from a shipwreck in Western Australia in the 1870s (Winner, NSW Premier’s History Awards)

Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony, the story of nine-year-old Lennie Gwyther who rode his pony Ginger Mick over a thousand kilometers to attend the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 (Shortlisted, NSW Premier’s History Awards and Shortlisted, Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards)

I am now working on the next book in the series, which is due for publication in May 2017

Lennie the Legend
My latest Heritage Heroes title, Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony, is now available. It tells the inspiring story of the remarkable solo journey of Lennie Gwyther, who in 1932 rode his pony, Ginger Mick, almost 1,000 kilometres from Leongatha in Victoria to Sydney in New South Wales just to see the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Lennie was launched with a book signing and reading at the National Library of Australia on Sunday, 22 March 2015.  Information about the book is available at http://publishing.nla.gov.au/book/lennie-the-legend-solo-to-sydney-by-pony.do. It also featured in an article by Carolyn Webb in The Age and the Sydney Morning Heraldhttp://www.smh.com.au/national/the-nineyearold-who-rode-a-pony-1000km-to-sydney-20150122-12v3kq.html, and Lennie’s story has even inspired a school musical: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/kids-musical-tells-of-boys-epic-1932-horse-ride-20151026-gkimf7.html Lennie the Legend was shortlisted in the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards 2015 and has just won the CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2016.


Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2015

amazing-grace-winner scan00841I am pleased to announce that two of my books, Lost! and Amazing Grace, featured at the Hello! from Australia exhibition of book illustration at the 2015 Bologna Children’s Book Fair. The catalogue from the exhibition is available at http://issuu.com/booksillustrated/docs/hello__from_australia_bologna_exhib/1. It is wonderful to have my books included in this catalogue, along with so many amazing Australian children’s books.


Lost! A True Tale from the Bush Author Tour

To help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Duff children surviving for nine days after getting lost in the bush in August 1864, I travelled to Horsham in the Wimmera District of Victoriascan0002 and spoke at the following venues on Thursday, 7 August 2014: Goroke Library, Nhill Library  and Horsham Library. It was a delight to meet so many people so committed to this story and to find out more about both the people and the places that feature in my book. This amazing survival story of the three young Duff children is an inspirational part of Australian history.

What an honour and a delight it was to be a part of the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s National Conference in Canberra, on 16, 17 and 18 May 2014. So many inspiring people from the children’s book world were all gathered under one roof: authors, illustrators, publishers, teachers, librarians and, most important of all, readers! It was fabulous to share the stage with three ‘Local Treasures': Tania McCartney, Tracey Hawkins and Irma Gold. I hope our plenary session on Motherhood and Mayhem and the writing life both informed and  inspired the 300-odd  delegates at the conference. And then there were the amazing ‘National Treasures’, including Bob Graham, Nadia Wheatley, Morris Gleitzman, Andy Griffith and Jackie French, just to name a few. A big thank you to the CBCA ACT Branch for organising such an inspirational and enjoyable event.

Irma, Tania, Stephanie and Tracey

Irma, Tania, Stephanie and Tracey

20140516_170155 20140518_1717481

Four books have recently been released to which I have made contributions.

S.T. Gill & His Audiences

Emeritus Professor of Fine Art at the Australian National University, Sasha Grishin, has just released the beautifully produced, erudite and very readable S.T. Gill & His Audiences (NLA Publishing 2015). It was a pleasure to be the editor of this fascinating book.


This is Captain Cook

What a delight it was to work as editor on This is Captain Cook (NLA Publishing, 2015) with the talented duo of author Tania McCartney and illustrator Christina Booth. This entertaining and charming picture book is a perfect way to introduce history to young children.

Marcie Muir

Australian Book Collectors: Second Series (Green Olive Press, 2013), edited by Charles Stitz, features my article on pioneering children’s book collector and bibliographer, the late and great Marcie Muir.

The Big Book of Australian History

I was consultant editor and  contributor to the National Library’s impressive9780642278326 The Big Book of Australian History (NLA Publishing, 2013), compiled by multi-award winning author Peter  Macinnis. This book was a Notable Book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Awards 2014.


Some of my recent picture book review articles can be accessed online, including one on the 150th anniversary of Alice in Wonderland:

The Complete Alice: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Fo









feelings-coverI am happy to announce that my picture book I’ve Got a Feeling! is included on the wonderful Read to My Child website, on which Jasmine Berry reads books for young children aged 0 to 5, including books by award-winning author Jackie French.  You can listen to Jasmine reading I’ve Got a Feeling! at www.readtomychild.com.au/stories-detail/ive-got-a-feeling.

Much to my delight and astonishment, my book Amazing Grace: An Adventure at Sea (NLA Publishing, 2011) won the Young People’s History Prize in the New South Wales Premier’s History Awards 2012. The awards were announced at a gala dinner in the Mitchell Reading Room at the NSW State Library on Friday, 30 November. Amazing Grace was shortlisted along with two outstanding Australian children’s books: Anh Doh’s The Little Refugee and Nadia Wheatley’s  Playground. Information on the awards is available at: http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/about/awards/premiers_awards/2012_award_winners.html. Or listen to an interview on ABC Breakfast Radio in Perth at http://www.abc.net.au/perth/programs/720_perth_breakfast/.



duff3On Thursday 18 October 2012, I was interviewed on Moyd and Lorretta’s  afternoon show on Radio 4BC in Brisbane about the remarkable true story behind Lost! A True Tale from the Bush. The interview covered the story of the three Duff children, the Aboriginal trackers who helped to find them, and the children’s amazing survival against the odds. The interview is available at www.4BC.com.au/aftarchiveseptoct2012, then scroll down to 1864’s Duff Children.

I am very honoured to have I’ve Got a Feeling! included on a book list of twenty-five books deemed Deadly Books for Little Kids in the State Library of Western Australia’s Better Beginnings Literacy Program, an inspiring initiative supporting Aboriginal Literacy.

This book is also made an IBBY Outstanding Book for Young People with a Disability in 2011.

Unfortunately, I’ve Got a Feeling! is no longer in print.


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