Authenticity, truth, wonder: Australian children’s and young adult titles at Frankfurt

Authenticity, truth, wonder: Australian children’s and young adult titles at Frankfurt

2 October, 2023

Picture books

University of Queensland Press (UQP) is looking forward to pitching the forthcoming Yanga Mother from Kooma and Nguri (First Nations) writer Cheryl Leavy (July 2024), a ‘lyrical bilingual picture book about the all-encompassing love of mothers, layered with meaning and historical truth-telling’, following the journey of a grey kangaroo and her joey, with themes of First Nations’ ‘resilience, connection to Country and never-ending motherly love’.

Hachette Australia also has a forthcoming picture book to showcase: The Very Best Words (Erin Munro & Sarah Trolle, March 2024), which is about older sister Emma’s quest to ‘find the best words’ for her new baby brother, in a story pitched as ‘a celebration of language and sibling love’.

Walker Books Australia will be highlighting I Wonder (Philip Bunting), a forthcoming title about asking questions and celebrating wonder as a step towards knowledge, as well as the foreign/translation rights for the Mini and Milo series from Venita Dimos and Natashia Curtin—The Teeny-Tiny VoiceThe Big Flappy EarsElephants Can’t Jump (2024), and The Last Plum (2024), as well as two more forthcoming titles planned for 2025. (Bold Type will represent the English-language rights for this series.)

Scholastic Australia is also excited for an upcoming release from Philip Bunting, due to publish this month: The Monster Game—which the publisher says empowers young readers to find their agency in the face of bedtime fears, rather than dismissing them.

Exisle Publishing will showcase When Grandma Burnt Her Bra (Samantha Tidy & Aska), a story from the perspective of a child with a proud feminist grandma, with a call to ‘carry the flame forward’; Butterfly Girl (Ashling Kwok & Arielle Li), which invites young readers to ‘add a touch of magic’ to their social and ecological environments, wherever they are; Nova’s Missing Masterpiece (Brooke Graham & Robin Tatlow-Lord), a tale about problem-solving and resilience that ‘features current evidence-based strategies to help self-regulate’; and Meet Mim (Sandra Severgnini), a guessing game about ‘the incredible camouflage skills of the mimic octopus’.

Windy Hollow is pitching a series of wellness board books for toddlers—Chill OutLove Green, Go Wild and Be Kind (Anna Pignataro)—the latter two of which will be published in July 2024; and Knock Knock (Catherine Meatheringham & Deb Hudson), which the publisher describes as a ‘joyous celebration of children’s lives and language around the world’.

Junior and middle-grade titles

Walker Books will showcase the forthcoming Small Acts, a collaborative story from neurodivergent authors Kate Foster and Kate Gordon for readers aged nine and up. The publisher describes Small Acts as ‘an authentic representation of what it can be like to be neurodivergent’, with themes about being kind to others, as well as to yourself, as the two protagonists ‘search for moments to leave things a bit better than what they found them’. Walker Books is also highlighting Losing the Plot by Annaleise Byrd, a middle-grade novel set in ‘a very surprising Grimm world’, into which protagonists Basil and Terry find themselves transported. (Foreign/translations rights for both titles will be represented by Walker Books, while English language rights will be represented by Bold Type Agency.)

UQP is excited to highlight the forthcoming middle-grade novel Leo and Ralph (Peter Carnavas), which it describes as ‘a beautifully rendered story about the friendship between an eccentric boy and his imaginary alien friend, and what happens when they have to say goodbye’.

Hachette is looking forward to pitching Wurrtoo, from local First Nations creators Tylissa Elisara and illustrator Dylan Finney, a forthcoming junior fiction adventure about friendship and facing fears, in which Wurrtoo the wombat sets out to marry the Sky, leaving the safety of the burrow and setting out on an adventure to reach the top of the tallest tree, with Kuula the koala by his side.

From Pantera comes two middle-grade nonfiction titles. Eww Gross! Foul facts and putrid pictures (Dan Marshall) is a book full of facts ‘tested by real scientists’ as the book’s mascot, Slimon, leads ‘a journey through all things rotten, revolting, despicable and downright disgusting’. Pantera is looking forward to pitching Foodwise: A kid’s guide to fighting food waste and saving the planet from Lucy Bell and photographer Lucy Leonardi, ‘guiding kids to be more conscious of their choices in using up food scraps, turning leftovers into meals, and making compost’.

Pantera is also pitching the fictional middle-grade title Spies in the Sky (Beverley McWilliams), a book about the brave acts of the racing pigeon Royal Blue, inspired by the true story of pigeons who went to war, and the third book in the Alice England Mysteries—The Strange Sighting (Ash Harrier)—in which twelve-year-old Alice uses her ‘resonant’ connections with funerary objects to solve mysteries.

Simon & Schuster Australia is pitching Kicking Goals Journal by Matildas soccer captain Sam Kerr and Louise Blair, which ‘will provide hours of know-how, stats and activities for soccer fans of all ages’.

From Exisle comes two forthcoming books from Emily Snape’s middle-grade Game On! series: Game On! Shrinkle and Game On! Glitched, which feature avid gamer Max and his mischievous brother Liam, as they must work together in adventures such as shrinking to miniature size and travelling through time. Also in middle-grade fiction, the publisher will pitch Ruby and the Pen and Xander and the Pen (David Lawrence & Cherie Dignam), featuring two protagonists who buy magical pens with great powers and serious consequences.

Scholastic is pitching Aaron Blabey’s ‘hotly anticipated, hilarious and thrilling’ graphic novel series Cat on the Run, which ‘already has a movie in development and is being rolled out in the US, UK and in translation’.

Young adult

Two young adult novels will also be highlighted at the fair this year, with Walker Books showcasing Stuck Up & Stupid (November 2023) from actor Angourie Rice and her mother, playwright Kate Rice. Set between the ‘quiet coastal community of Pippi Beach’, other Australian settings, and LA, this ‘modern twist on Pride and Prejudice’ is, according to the publisher, both familiar and contemporary. Meanwhile, Scholastic is excited to highlight a new release from Jack Heath—If You Tell Anyone, You’re Next, a standalone thriller for young teens where ‘the toxicity of online culture drives the twists and turns’.

Originally published by Books and Publishing (Read More)