The Centre for Children’s Literature

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The Stars of Romancing the Stars 2014

Chris Bongers

Christine Bongers grew up with six brothers on a farm outside Biloela, in central Queensland. She has worked as a broadcast journalist on the ABC and in commercial television in Brisbane and London. Christine’s debut novel Dust was a CBCA Notable Book for 2010, and the funny and heart-warming Henry Hoey Hobson, was shortlisted for CBCA Book of the Year—Younger Readers 2011.  It captures the magic and sense of empowerment that stem from learning to believe in yourself and from having people around you who believe in you too. In 2013 Drongoes was released in the Aussie Mates series. “This is a ripper, bonza, beaut little story which celebrates the greatness of a good mate and the Australian spirit of having a go…The word ‘drongo’ is beautifully explained at the conclusion of the story …a great lead into a bit of research as a follow on reading extension activity.” Children’s Books Daily.  Christine’s young adult novel Intruder will be out in June 2014.” More at

Stephen Axelsen

Stephen Axelsen was born in Sydney. After university he fell into books and publishing more or less by accident. He learnt to illustrate by drawing Blinky Bill books and studying English illustrators like Arthur Rackham and Ronald Searle. His first book was published in 1975 and he has been working in children’s book publishing ever since.  He has contributed illustrations to The School Magazine regularly since 1985. The Oath of Bad Brown Bill was commended in the CBCA Picture book of the Year awards in 1979 and is set in the same historical period as his new graphic novel The Nelly Gang which came out in 2013. Another graphic novel illustrated by Stephen in 2005, The Mostly True Story of Matthew and Trim by Cassandra Golds is now back in print.  Stephen has illustrated many other picture and chapter books such as Freda the free-Range Chook written by David Metzenthen in 2013 as well as writing and illustrating his own Piccolo and Annabelle series of novels.

Christine Bollenbach

Christine Bollenbach grew up in the Rhine valley among colourful vineyards in a soft hilly landscape. She writes, “If I close my eyes, I can still hear and feel the deep humming sound of the ships carrying sand and coal up and down the river. In summer, we used to pick blueberries, and in winter, we swished down the long snow hill slopes. My strongest childhood memories are those that I have taken from my grandmother’s house in the Bavarian countryside, where she lived surrounded by dairy farms and funny country folks. It left a lasting impression that led me to write for a newspaper in that area, which gave me license to ask those wonderful people all kinds of questions about their daily lives.” Christine started her career as a freelance graphic designer and as a designer of a small range of lifestyle products, before turning to story-writing and illustration. In 2013 her first picture book How to catch a monster was published.  It was inspired by her son’s fear of monsters.

Amanda Francey

Amanda Francey is an illustrator based in Brisbane. She studied at Queensland College of Art and worked for over a decade in graphic design and art direction before returning to her childhood passion of drawing. Amanda’s illustrations have appeared on cards, stationery and packaging, as well as gracing the walls of children’s rooms all over the world. More recently, Amanda illustrated her first picture book Jonathan! due for release February 2014.

Amanda enjoys illustrating using a mix of traditional and digital mediums.

Emily Craven

Emily Craven is an emerging author of fantasy and YA fiction with her latest comedy novels set in Facebook. She is the digital producer at If:Book Australia, and blogs about e-books and digital strategies for writers on her own site. In 2012, Emily produced Adelaide: Choose Your Own Adventure: an interactive, choose your own adventure locative literature event in Adelaide CBD. She has spoken on transmedia and e-books for the Australian Society of Authors, national writers’ centres, and the World Fantasy Convention.  In 2011-2012 she undertook a 12 month writing mentorship with Isobelle Carmody, for her manuscript Priori-The Power Within.  In 2012 she published Jake’s Page: A Story and play.  With The Grand Adventures of Madeline Cain, first published as an eBook, the story doesn’t stay on the page. Taking advantage of the age of social media, readers can now interact with the main characters from Madeline Cain on Facebook. Each character has their own page where readers will find the characters interacting and posting additional pictures, videos and more. Now available in print format.

Isobelle Carmody

Isobelle Carmody began the first of her highly acclaimed Obernewtyn Chronicles while she was still at high school and worked on it while completing a Bachelor of Arts and then a journalism cadetship. The first book was accepted by the first publisher she sent it to and went on to be short-listed in the Older Readers section of the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award for older readers. The series and her short stories have established her at the forefront of fantasy writing in Australia. She has written many award winning short stories and books for young people since then. Scatterlings won Talking Book of the year in 1992 and in 1993 The Gathering was a joint winner of 1993 CBCA Book of the Year Award and winner of the 1994 Children’s Literature Peace Prize. Billy Thunder and the Night Gate was shortlisted for the Patricia Wrightson Prize for Childrens Literature in the 2001 NSW Premiers Literary Awards. Greylands was named a White Raven at Bologna Book Fair and the title story of the Green Monkey Dream collection won Best short story in the Aurealis Awards when it was published. Darksong won an Aurealis Award in its year. Alyzon Whitestarr won a Golden Aurealis when it was published. Isobelle has also written many books for younger readers. She wrote The Wrong Thing which was illustrated by Declan Lee, Journey from the Centre of the Earth, illustrated by Mark Mc Bride and The Night School illustrated by Anne Spudvilas, was  shortlisted for an Aurealis Award in 2011. The Legend of Little Fur was Isobelle’s first series for younger readers. She illustrated this and the other three books that completed this series herself with pen and ink drawings. The Red Wind, the first book in The Kingdom of The Lost series which she also illustrated won the CBCA Book of the Year in 2011 in the Younger Readers’ Category and in 2013 the second book in this series The Cloud Road was published. Isobelle contributed to and edited a collection of short stories with Nan McNab,  Tales From The Tower, Vol 1  The Wilful Eye & Vol 2 The Wicked Wood. Metro Winds a short story collection was published in May 2012. Isobelle is also currently working on The Red Queen the final book in the Obernewtyn Chronicles due to be published in 2014.

Jesse Blackadder

Jesse is an international award-winning author of adult and children’s fiction.   The Australian Antarctic Division awarded Jesse the 2011-12 Antarctic Arts Fellowship and she travelled to Antarctica in 2011 to research the first woman to reach Antarctica. Jesse has also been a writer in residence in Sitka Alaska, in outback Australia, at Byron Bay and at Varuna The Writers’ House in the Blue Mountains. Jesse is writing a series of junior fiction novels (for readers aged 8-10). The first – Stay: the last dog in Antarctica – was published in July 2013. Paruku: The Desert Brumby is due out in January 2014. Jesse is also an experienced freelance writer and journalist. She studied creative writing at university (along with film and photography) in a BA (Communication) at the University of Technology Sydney. She has a Master of Applied Science (Social Ecology) and is finishing her Doctor of Creative Arts at the University of Western Sydney. She has won numerous writing awards.

Josie Montano

Josie Montano lives with her family in The Gap, Brisbane. Her love of fiction writing began at age 8, when she shelved her self-published stories in the school library. She has worked in the primary school environment as a teacher-aide, a secretary and a library-aide. She has a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. Her published works include Wogaluccis, Snot Fair, Snot Cool, Pop Starlets, Stuff They Don’t Teach You at School, Who’s Wheelie the Fastest, Sunlight and two picture books with Matt Ottley, The Bubble and The Little Penguin. Her most recent book is My Family Sized Pizza released 2014.

Katherine Battersby

Katherine Battersby is the critically acclaimed children’s author and illustrator of Squish Rabbit, which was shortlisted for the Crichton Award and released in Australia, the US, China and other countries. Her second picture book, Brave Squish Rabbit, came out in 2012 and was shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Book of the Years Awards. She has also had many short stories published in magazines, anthologies and educational resources. In 2010 Katherine was awarded a Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship for her writing and in 2008 she won an Australian Society of Authors’ mentorship. In another life she worked for many years as a paediatric occupational therapist, specializing as a children’s counsellor. She adores reading, rabbits and anime and thinks exclamation marks are evil. Visit her at

Michael Gerard Bauer

Michael Gerard Bauer was born and grew up in Brisbane. Torn between childhood dreams of being a samurai warrior or a ninja, and teenage dreams of being a singer-songwriter, Michael became an English and Economics Teacher instead. In 2000 he resigned from full-time teaching to chase the even more fanciful dream of becoming an author. In 2005 Michael’s first novel The Running Man was awarded the CBCA Older Readers Book of the Year. In 2007 his second novel Don’t Call Me Ishmael! was short-listed for the CBCA awards and the NSW Premier’s Awards and won the Children’s Peace Literature Award and the South Australian Festival Award. Ishmael and the Return of the Dugongs and Ishmael and the Hoops of Steel completed the very funny and popular Ishmael trilogy. In 2011 Just a Dog was a CBCA Honour Book for Younger Readers and a Queensland Premier’s Award winner. Michael’s most recent publications for younger readers, Eric Vale – Epic Fail and Eric Vale – Super Male are fully illustrated by his young film-maker son, Joe Bauer. The third book in the series Eric Vale – Off the Rails came out in 2013. These days Michael is a full-time writer. His books are sold in around 20 countries and often set as school texts. Michael is still trying to figure out how it all happened.

Narelle Oliver

Narelle Oliver is the author-illustrator of a number of award-winning children’s picture books including, The Best Beak in Boonaroo Bay, The Hunt, Sand Swimmers, Mermaids Most Amazing, Baby Bilby where do you sleep?, The Very Blue Thingamajig, Dancing the Boom-cha-cha Boogie, Home, Twilight Hunt, and Fox and Fine Feathers. Many of these titles have won awards and been distributed internationally. Narelle’s picture book, Fox and Fine Feathers (August 2009) is a contemporary fable set in Coachwood forest on the east coast of Australia. It has been awarded Honour Book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Awards, 2010. Many of Narelle’s books have been inspired by natural environments. In other titles, she has explored imaginary, historic and mathematical themes. Her most recent book Don’t let a Spoonbill in the Kitchen is a delightful blending of nature and fantasy. The linocut print medium, often combined with other media, is a special feature of the illustrations.

Pamela Rushby

Pamela Rushby has worked in advertising; as a pre-school teacher; and as a writer and producer of educational television, audio and multi-media. She currently freelances as a writer of children’s and young adult historical novels, and also writes fiction and non-fiction for educational publishers. Her historical YA novel, When the Hipchicks Went to War, won the Ethel Turner Award for young people’s literature in the NSW Premier’s Literary awards 2010, and was a CBCA Notable Book 2010. The Horses Didn’t Come Home was short listed in the Queensland Literary Awards 2012. Flora’s War was published in 2013, and The Rat Catcher’s Daughter will be published in March 2014. Pam has also written children’s television scripts; hundreds of radio and TV commercials; documentaries on Queensland dinosaurs, Australian ecosystems, bilbies, the Crown of Thorns starfish and Chinese terracotta warriors; short stories; and freelance journalism. She has won several other awards, including a Literature Board of the Australia Council grant to work on archaeological excavations in Egypt and Jordan and a Churchill Fellowship to study educational television production in Canada.

Peter Carnavas

Peter Carnavas is an author, illustrator and teacher who writes and illustrates picture books for children and grown-ups to enjoy.  He has written and illustrated seven picture books and has been shortlisted for many awards, including the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards.  His books include Jessica’s Box, Last Tree in the City and The Children Who Loved Books.  He has presented at many schools and festivals across Australia and his books have been translated into many languages, including German, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch. He recently collaborated with author Pat Flynn on My Totally Awesome Story, a novel that also teaches kids to write stories.  In 2013 we welcomed his new picture book The Boy on the Page, about a small boy who lands on the page of a book and in 2014 we have two books to start the year, My Nanna is a ninja written by Damon Young and illustrated by Peter as well as Jonathan! written by Peter but illustrated by Amanda Francey.

Rebecca Johnson

Rebecca Johnson is an author, part-time primary school Science teacher and mother of two.  She believes her writing career actually began right back in high school, inspired by the love of hearing, then repeating a good joke. However, she didn’t make the connection between writing and joke-telling for another twenty years.    She went on to become a teacher and has now written over 60 books.  She began writing for Steve Parish in 2000 when she came up with an idea for a series of books using his photos.  The books have gone on to sell more than three million copies, capturing the imagination of children everywhere.. Her past experience as a wildlife carer has given her an extra insight into the behaviour of our native animals, giving her fiction stories a taste of realism. Juliet, Nearly a Vet is her first fiction series with the first four coming out in 2013 and more due out in May 2014.

Kate Knapp

Kate Knapp is an Australian illustrator and artist. Her studio Twigseeds has given flight to a world of colourful characters. These furry and feathery friends have found a popular niche with children and grown-ups alike. They have appeared in books, magazine columns, art prints, greeting cards, stationery, plush toys and bed linen. A graduate of Griffith University’s Queensland College of Art, Kate creates all Twigseeds artwork by hand using a variety of mediums—including watercolour, gouache, ink and pencil. Kate and Twigseeds are based in Brisbane, Queensland.

She has also created two beautiful books about Ruby Red Shoes, the aware hare. You can have further a peek into Ruby’s world by going to Ruby’s website:  Kate’s website is

Richard Yaxley

Richard Yaxley grew up in Tasmania, surrounded by books and cricket bats. Since moving to Queensland, he has written novels for adults and young adults, plays, poetry, school musicals and many books for the classroom.

His first novel, The Rose Leopard, was published by the University of Queensland Press in 2003. Other adult novels include Bloodlines and The Musician and the Murderer, both published as e-books.

His verse novel Drink The Air won the 2010 Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction. A novel for young adults, Joyous And Moonbeam, was published by Omnibus Books in 2013. Richard is currently working on a new novel for young people, tentatively entitled The Sunflower Queen.

He lives and teaches in Brisbane, Australia.

Samantha Wheeler

Samantha Wheeler lives in Brisbane with her family and many animals. Her first story took shape during a writing course at the Queensland Writers Centre in 2009 and was accepted into s Manuscript Development Program in 2010. She went on to have a short story published in the One Book Many Brisbanes anthology and to write Smooch & Rose, her first s novel, inspired by a local strawberry farm and her concern for s koalas.  She pitched Smooch & Rose to UQP at the CYA Conference in Brisbane in 2012, and by October, was offered a contract. The book was published in 2013.

Rosie Borella

Rosie Borella has been crazy about two things ever since she can remember – riding horses and writing. A few years ago, she left behind a working life that had always involved writing – as a journalist, sub-editor and editor, and in public relations, science writing and marketing. She went back to nursing part time, so she could spend her free time writing what she really wanted – fiction. Her story ‘Eternity’ was published in the Tales from the Tower collection. The One and Only Jack Chant is her first novel.

Rosie lives on a farmlet on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria. She writes from a room at the back of the house that looks into an overgrown garden. Being inside her writing room feels like being inside the Tardis

James Moloney

James Moloney is one of Australia’s leading writers for children and young adults. His passion for story telling has seen him produce more than thirty books right across the age range from ‘seven to seventeen year-olds.’ He grew up in Brisbane, where he was more interested in playing Rugby than anything to do with books, but during teacher training he succumbed to the lure of literature. Two years teaching indigenous children led to his ground-breaking novels Dougy and Gracey which take an unflinching look at Australian racism and identity. A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove, a study of loneliness and a young man’s attempts to redeem his family’s past is one of this country’s quiet best-sellers and widely studied in high schools. In recent years he has branched out into humour (Black Taxi) and his fantasy stories, beginning with The Book of Lies, bring him more emails from readers than any other books. His latest book, Tamlyn completes his fantasy trilogy that began with Silvermay.

Nicholas and Alison Lochel

Nicholas & Alison Lochel are a brother-and-sister writing team from Brisbane and the co-authors of the Zarkora series. Together they created the independent publishing house, Thornberry Press, and published the first two books in the Zarkora series, The Fyrelit Tragedy and The Lost Kingdom. Zarkora – The Fyrelit Tragedy has been shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia – Book of the Year Award 2013 and Express Media Award for best work or project by a young person or young people under 30. The Mark of the Jackal, the third book in the Zarkora series is due for release in 2014.

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