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Friday, January 27, 2017

Drum Roll, Please! Australia's Top Authors 2017

Again, I'm sticking to those who have written for kids, and there are several between 10 and 1.

#10: Marcus Zusak. Best known, these days, for The Book Thief, which has been translated into forty languages and been turned into a very good movie. But he has been on the CBCA shortlist for other books and that one works fine as a YA novel. I remember hearing him speak at a school library conference once, years ago, before he became an international bestselling author. He'd written his first novel and I swear, he looked about sixteen! He was young, though not quite that young, and I bought he book to support a new local author. He's come a long way since then. I doubt a local library conference could afford him these days. 

#9 Andy Griffiths. When I started my school library career, the big name in funny children's books was Paul Jennings. Paul was our Roald Dahl, but nicer. Nowadays, he has been more or less replaced by Andy Griffiths, who writes the Treehouse books, the Schooling Around series, the Just series and the series that began with The Day My Bum Went Psycho. (In the U.S., that's "Butt", as "bum" has a different meaning in American slang). He understands what makes kids laugh out loud and is rewarded every year when kids vote him their favourite in the Young Australian Best Book Awards. A delightful writer - and such a nice man! I have been lucky enough to meet him a couple of times. Once, when I mentioned my disadvantaged school, he gave me a signed set of the new edition of Schooling Around for the library, which was great, because the individual novels were always going missing.

#6. Anh Do. We have several of his  funny WeirDo novels for children. His autobiography,  The Happiest Refugee, is the class text for Year 9, and the kids actually like it. Given how many refugees we have at my school, I think they can relate. But in general, they enjoy it, even the EAL kids. 

#5. John Marsden. Best known for the YA series, Tomorrow When The War Began, but has written quite a lot more. There was a film made of the first one and one of the cast later went on to play the role of Phryne Fisher's maid Dot. It's a powerful series and at one time it was hardly ever on the shelves. Not as popular now, but a few years ago, when I took some students to the local launch of the National Year Of Reasing, he was the guest speaker and there were plenty of kids there. The author actually gave away copies of his books and signed them. Nice!

#3. This one is for my American librarian friend Pamela, who is a fan - Mem Fox! Mem is the author of the classic Possum Magic, about a little possum who has been turned invisible and who has to eat his way through Australian foods in various states to recover his visibility. 

#2. Tim Winton. Best known for his adult books, but also the author of the classic Lockie Leonard YA novels, set in Western Australia, with a surfing theme. The first was on our Year 8 list at one stage. A mother objected, because there is a scene where the hero has a wet dream. She withdrew her objection after one of our staff had a chat with her, explaining about the book. It is funny and sad and sweet and the sea is almost a character. 

#1. Matthew Reilly. I probably don't need to explain him. He is tremendously well known and popular for all those extremely violent books. I must admit, I'm no fan of his; I managed to get through about 250 pages of Temple. People were getting killed and things blown up on every page - and no one cared. When a character sacrificed himself for another character and she didn't even blink let alone mourn him, I threw my copy against the wall and never read anything else of his again. But teenage boys enjoy his work. The ones at my school who want to read his books tend to have their own copies, though I'd buy them on request. I am in a minority here, I confess. But this year, he is Australia's most popular author. Congratulations, Matthew! 


Pamela said...

Yay for Mem!!! I know that my tiny fans of Where Is The Green Sheep? don't care if she's won honors or not, but I am very happy!

Although rather peeved that Garth Nix is only at 46. What??? That's madness.

And although I haven't read a Matthew Reilly book in a while, I do enjoy them as a guilty pleasure. I find it extraordinarily funny how he italicizes every other word. He hasn't much shame in writing what he does, and I think there's something to be said about that.

Very glad, too, to see Zusak up there. I have a wee crush on him.

Lexa Cain said...

Amusingly, I just wrote a comment on Patsy's blog where she mentioned a PB competition for 500 pounds. I told her picture books were the hardest thing I ever tried to write (and failed miserably). Unlike Andy Griffiths, I have no idea what makes kids laugh. Interesting about Matthew and his violent books. My male CPs always want me to get to the next action scene asap, while the women are always telling me to slow down and go through every emotion the mc is feeling. I think most boys/men just want "what happens next" and don't give a darn about character development or arc. Emotions are "gross." Have a good weekend!

Sue Bursztynski said...

Matthew Reilly is a guilty pleasure for a lot of adults. I heard him speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival once and he admitted that his books were all about humans being chased across the landscape by monsters; he implied that they were not to be taken seriously. They sounded fun, so I bought a couple. Boy, was I sorry! Silly, I expected - not that they would make me angry.

You need to realise that hundreds of books are nominated every year - if Garth Nix made it to #46, he is doing nicely. Some names appear over more than one year and might be at #46 this year and #1 next year. It depends who votes and what they have been reading.

Sabriel is on this year's shortlist for Dymock's booksellers favourite 101 books - sorry, you have to have their loyalty card to vote. But I've just voted and his was one of five books I voted for. :)

Sue Bursztynski said...

Lexa, you're absolutely right about picture books being hard to write. I wouldn't dare! (Unless I was commissioned, if course) Most of my writing is aimed at 9-12 year olds.

I think the best books have both character development and action. Matthew Reilly's books seem to appeal most to teenage boys, who play a lot of shoot-em-up video games. But there must be plenty of adults reading them, like Pam, as a guilty pleasure, or they wouldn't be selling so well. Sometimes you just want to switch off your brain for a while. The author knows this and has no problem with it. I would LOVE to be a fraction as popular as MR, but I just can't read his books,