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One illustrator on our minds this afternoon is the breathtaking Elise Hurst, whose CBCA shortlisted title Girl On Wire addresses resilience, bravery and doing what needs to be done. Elise still has availability left in Book Week, and her illustration workshops for primary and junior secondary perfect building blocks for students keen to know how to pair illustrations and text.

Booked Out speakers R.A. Spratt and Oliver Phommavanh have been featured in the Sydney Morning Herald after appearing at the Children’s Book Council of Australia conference on the weekend.

In the feature article, R.A. and Oliver explain how they got into writing kids’ books, how and why they use humour in their stories, and why funny books are perfect for connecting kids to reading and writing.

Read more over at the Sydney Morning Herald, and you can enquire about booking R.A. Spratt or Oliver Phommavanh to visit your school or library here.

Happy National Reconciliation Week.

National Reconciliation Week is celebrated each year from 27 May to 3 June. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey—the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum and the Mabo decision.

This years’ reconciliation week theme is Grounded in Truth, Walk Together in Courage.”

Booked Out acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Wurundjeri land we work on, and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

To find out more about how you can get involved, visit the reconciliation website here.

Booked Out extends a huge congratulations to Robert Newton on the new release of PROMISE ME HAPPY! Our copy is already in high demand.

Readings Review by Mike Shuttleworth:

Melbourne writer Robert Newton is well known to teenage readers. His colourful novel Runner, about a boy caught up in Squizzy Taylor’s 1920s underworld, is a staple of early secondary reading lists. More recently, When We Were Two garnered the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction.

Authenticity, integrity and humour are the hallmarks of Newton’s novels and these qualities are on full display in Promise Me Happy. On being released from juvenile detention, teenager Nate goes to live with a distant relative in the small coastal town of Oyster Bay.

Shaking off his past isn’t easy – he was in for a violent robbery – but there is more generosity than judgment in this world and Nate is determined to stay on good footing. But it’s when Nate meets local girl Gem (‘She turns around when she hears me, and it’s like someone’s knocked the wind out of me’), life takes a new turn, and it doesn’t lead where you might expect.

Newton populates this laidback fishing town with some devastatingly charming characters, not least Nate’s crusty bachelor Uncle Mick and the irrepressible Henry, a jack-in-the-box kid who brings instant sunshine to the page. And there’s a local gang who want to test Nate’s temper to see just how tough he is.

Tender, funny and freighted with heartache, Promise Me Happy ensures that Robert Newton will remain a fixture for Australian readers now and in years to come. Highly recommended for readers aged 13+.

At Booked Out, we love keeping things fresh. We’re always on the lookout new speakers who are in tune with readers and current social issues. We are thrilled to announce our newest speakers:

ELLA HOLCOMBE: Author of The House on the Mountain, a gently told, beautifully illustrated account of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires from a child’s perspective. Ella loves to share her own stories of growing up in the bush, as well as her family’s current rebuilding process in Kinglake.

LEE KOFMAN: Author and editor of seven books. Her most recent book, the critically acclaimed memoir Imperfect, tells her story of growing up while suffering anguish about her body that was severely scarred during multiple childhood surgeries, and later in life raising a child with albinism. Drawing on Lee’s experience and research, Imperfect also explores how we can live a fulfilled life in an ‘imperfect’ body.

JENNA GUILLAUME: A lively and engaging author and journalist with a passion for empowering young people – and having a lot of fun along the way. She loves to talk about things like body image, social media and online toxicity, the intersection of feminism and pop culture, digital media, mental health and self-love.

NEIL GRANT: In 2009, Neil travelled to Afghanistan to gather material for a book on asylum seekers, a journey that changed his life; The Ink Bridge was published in 2012. His newest release, The Honeyman and the Hunter is based partly in India – the birthplace of his mother and a wonderful exploration of dual heritage, cultural identity, family and the power of storytelling.

SUMAYA HARARE: Coming to Australia at the age of 7 with her family as a refugee, Sumaya and her family were settled in the suburb of Brighton East, a predominantly Caucasian suburb. She started at a nearby primary school, the only English she knew having learnt from Sesame Street. Her experiences of being bullied and ostracized in school caused her to develop social anxiety and a diminished self-worth which she wouldn’t know about until into her mid to late 20s. She connects with girls from schools all over the country on topics of bullying and overcoming it, body image issues and integrating as a refugee.

PATRICK GUEST: After many years spent gathering stories and tapping away in darkened rooms, Patrick has overcome his fear of public speaking and is now an accomplished performer – equal parts inspiring and entertaining – who isn’t afraid to explore the deeper motivations behind his stories. Patrick has a talent for engaging and involving his whole audience (even the kid at the back of the hall who doesn’t want to be there).

On Saturday, 6th April we were delighted to attend the Fitzroy Writers Festival where Booked Out speakers Maxine Beneba Clarke, Carly Findlay, Abdi Aden and Justin Heazlewood each made an appearance.

Thank you to Yarra Libraries, who invited Booked Out to set up an information stall in the beautiful, historical ballroom at Fitzroy Town Hall.

Highlights of the day included catching up with our friends from The Little Bookroom and Yarra Libraries, as well as a very special visit to the Booked Out stall from Abdi Aden!

Check out @bookedoutagency on Instagram for more highlights.


Last week the much anticipated CBCA Shortlist was announced for 2019!

We were so happy to see many Booked Out authors represented on the shortlist: including Clare Atkins, nominated for Between Us, the gorgeous picture book Brindabella by Ursula Dubosarsky and Andrew Joyner, Girl on Wire, illustrated by the lovely Elise Hurst, the fantastic The Dress Up Box by Patrick Guest and more.

Congratulations to all the talented authors and illustrators on the list, and to all those who didn’t get nominated too. We are in awe of your creativity, hard work and dedication to your craft.

We are eagerly anticipating the announcement of the winning titles later in the year.

What a wonderful and inspiring evening we had at the State Library of Victoria last night, listening to award-winning author Cate Kennedy speak on her short story collection Like a House on Fire to an enthusiastic bunch of VCE English students and teachers.

Cate also shared a wealth of creative writing tips and tricks with us – from creating characters, to building tension, to metaphor and imagery, there was no stone Cate left unturned.

Cate left us with this fascinating insight into the curiosity that drives her writing: ‘When writing, I explore different experiences as an act of radical empathy.’

Thank you to the wonderful VCE students and teachers who came along, and watch this space for more events later in the year!


We are delighted to say that our VCE twilight seminar with Maxine Beneba Clarke at the State Library of Victoria was a roaring success.

Maxine’s detailed and thoughtful presentation on Foreign Soil elevated students’ understanding of the text, and attendees were full of fantastic and well-considered questions.

Some fantastic feedback we have received:

“Thank you very much for offering the Maxine Beneba Clarke lecture, both myself and the students found it to be excellent. The students loved that she took the time at the end for a meet and greet and a book signing. The content was excellent, and geared towards her teenage audience – so accessible and useful for their SAC’s. I wouldn’t hesitate to bring the girls again next year, should it run again.”

Thank you to the 16 different schools who came along – it was wonderful to meet such passionate students and teachers.

Watch this space for our next twilight seminar coming up this Thursday evening for Cate Kennedy, who will be speaking on Like a House on Fire to a sold out audience.

We are delighted to be featured in Books+Publishing who interviewed our company director Lauris (pictured right, with Andy Griffiths) for an article on speakers agencies, published this week. You can read the full article over at Books+Publishing, but here is a snippet of Lauris’ comments:

‘Unlike many other agencies, we operate nationally. We provide writers and illustrators to schools throughout Australia as well as several international schools,’ she says.

The agency also works with ‘more high-profile authors’, says Pandolfini. Booked Out’s list boasts Andy Griffiths, Jackie French, Morris Gleitzman, John Marsden and Sally Rippin, among others, and clients browsing the agency’s website can search for speakers with specialties as diverse as spoken word, animation, mindfulness and the school curriculum.

Read the full article here.