Panel Discussions

Fitzroy Children's Literature Festival


Fitzroy Children's Literature Festival

Leigh Hobbs in Conversation

Saturday 22 April 3pm-4pm

Fitzroy Town Hall Main Stage

Join Leigh Hobbs and Erica Wagner as they discuss the current state of the Children’s Publishing Industry in Australia and their years of experience as both author and publisher. 


Leigh Hobbs
Leigh Hobbs, Australian Children’s Laureate for 2016 and 2017, is an artist /author / illustrator described by Ed Zaghini in the UK of Booktrust News  as ‘one of today’s best living children’s book creators’.  Leigh is best known for his exuberant and provocative children’s books featuring a cast of subversive but lovable characters; including  Old Tom, Horrible Harriet, Mr Chicken and Mr Badger. Old Tom has been adapted for TV and Mr Chicken and Horrible Harriet for the Sydney Opera House stage. Leigh was a secondary school art teacher for 25 years.


Erica Wagner
Erica Wagner has worked with books for most of her life, as a bookseller, editor and publisher. She started out as a trainee editor at Penguin Australia in 1988, nurturing and developing many of Australia’s finest authors and illustrators, eventually becoming Associate Publisher in 1996. In 1998 she left Penguin to start up Silverfish, a new children’s imprint for Duffy & Snellgrove. In 1999 she was awarded the Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship, the first children’s book editor to receive this honour. The Silverfish list was acquired by Allen & Unwin in 2000, where Erica continues to work as a publisher on many bestselling, award-winning books, in a list that is internationally acclaimed. Illustrated books are a particular passion.


Bookings not required for this session but you can register to receive an email reminder about the festival.


Fitzroy Children's Literature Festival

Meet the Illustrators

Saturday 22nd April 1.30pm - 2.30pm
Fitzroy Town Hall Main Stage


Meet the Illustrators as artist Gabrielle Wang leads a discussion delving into the mysterious world of the children’s book illustrator. 


Gabrielle Wang
Gabrielle Wang is a children’s author and illustrator whose books are a blend of Chinese and Western culture with a touch of fantasy. She has twice won the Aurealis Award for Best Children’s Long Fiction and her novels have been named Notables in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards. Two of her works were Highly Commended in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and her first novel, The Garden of Empress Cassia was listed on the USBBY Outstanding International Books Honour List. Gabrielle has published sixteen children’s novels with Penguin Books Australia and a picture book, The Race for the Chinese Zodiac with Walker Books. She has been published internationally in the US, UK, China, South America and Korea. Gabrielle is also author of two of the very popular Our Australian Girl series, Poppy and Pearlie. Her latest novel is The Beast of Hushing Wood.


Elise Hurst
Elise Hurst is a writer and illustrator who is enthralled by the places that imagination can take you. Starting out as a traditional artist she soon discovered a passion for narrative and her work uses both visual and written languages to convey meaning. In her sessions Elise loves to equip people with the tools to draw their wildest ideas.


Anna Walker
Anna Walker writes and illustrates children's books and is based in Melbourne. Crafted with pencil, ink and collage, Anna's illustrations are inspired by the everyday details of life and the amusing antics of her menagerie. Anna's book as author/illustrator with Penguin, Mr Huff, won the 2016 CBCA Book of the Year for Early Childhood and has been shortlisted in the 2016 Prime Minister's Literary Awards. Anna has created many beautiful picture books, her most recent being Florette.


Heath McKenzie
Heath McKenzie lives and works in a very small suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia and has worked with numerous clients and publishers worldwide. His work is entirely freehand while also being entirely digital. He does his very best to keep it as 'real' as possible and tends to be successful at that more often than not.
Along with illustration (which he's been doing professionally since 2003) and writing (which he's been getting away with since 2013) he's managed to sneak in the odd bit of design work along the way.
Recent highlights include illustrating  international soccer superstar Tim Cahill's ongoing 'Tiny Timmy' series, Andy Lee's  worldwide runaway success 'Do Not Open This Book' and his very own 'Archie - No Ordinary Sloth' appearing on the CBCA notables list for 2016. All this along with much more on the way well into at least far!
When not drawing he's busily helping raise a little family with his lovely wife, collecting an unnecessary amount of toys, books and dvds, indulging in a spot of Doctor Who and attempting occasionally ambitious culinary feats in the kitchen. He also enjoys possibly a bit too much tea.


Bookings not required for this session but you can register to receive an email reminder about the festival.





Fitzroy Children's Literature Festival

The LOLs and tears of Children’s Fiction; the Story Weavers

Saturday 22 April 10:30am-11:30am

Fitzroy Town Hall Main Stage

Join some of Australia’s most popular Children’s book authors in this frolicking discussion about the joys and magic moments experienced when writing for children.


Peter Helliar
Peter Helliar is an Australian comedian, TV presenter and children’s author. He lives in Melbourne with his wife and three kids, and currently co-hosts the award-winning news and current affairs program The Project on Network Ten. Peter is now tackling his greatest challenge yet: writing Frankie Fish's hilarious adventures and working on his very own time-travel technique in the process.


Sally Rippin
Sally Rippin was born in Darwin, but grew up mainly in South-East Asia. As a young adult she lived in China for three years, studying traditional Chinese painting. Sally has over sixty books published, many of them award-winning, including two novels for young adults. Her most recent work includes the highly acclaimed children’s novel Angel Creek and the popular Billie B Brown books, which became the highest selling series for 6-8 year olds in Australia within the first year of their release. In 2015, Sally was Australia’s highest selling female author and her Billie B Brown books have sold more than 2.5 million copies since first published.
Sally is a popular presenter in schools and at literary festivals both in Australia and overseas and has a regular program on 3RRR interviewing children’s authors and industry professionals. She is a passionate ambassador for the 100 Story Building creative writing centre for marginalized youth and has mentored many emerging writers and illustrators. Recently, she and her partner co-founded Story Peddlers, a hand-made performance tent that packs away into a custom-built bike, with the aim of bringing back the art of the roving storyteller.

Davina Bell
Davina Bell is a book editor and writer for young people. Her first picture book, The Underwater Fancy-dress Parade, won the Small Publishers category in the 2016 Australian Book Industry Awards, and she is the author of the Alice books in the bestselling Our Australian Girl series of historical fiction for middle readers. Davina was formerly a Senior Editor at Penguin Books, where she worked with some of our country’s most beloved children’s book creators.

Kim Kane
Kim Kane was born in London in a bed bequeathed by Wordsworth to…a writer, a painter or a poet. Despite this auspicious beginning, she went on to practice law.
In 2004, Kim threw her unbridled materialism to the wind and started to write. Kim now works exactly part-time as a lawyer and exactly part-time as a writer and the combination is perfect.
Kim has noticed that most proper children’s writers like chickens. Kim hates chickens. She does, however, like being backstage, her nephew, Angus, and, if she is strictly honest, most fatty snacks. Above all of these things (except perhaps Angus), Kim likes telling stories, and on a good writing day she wouldn’t trade her life for anything.


Bookings not required for this session but you can register to receive an email reminder about the festival.




Fitzroy Children's Literature Festival

Everyone Can Be a Hero; Diversity and Inclusion in Children’s Books


Saturday 22 April 12pm-1pm

Fitzroy Town Hall Main Stage 

In a world of princesses and princes, bad guys and heroes, do children see themselves in the worlds of their favourite children’s Books? Join Hazel Edwards and her expert panel as they discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion in children’s books, and how everyone truly can be a hero. 
Hazel Edwards
Hazel Edwards writes quirky, thought--‐provoking fiction and fact for adults and children, and has her own e-bookstore for favourite print books which are now e-pubs. Best known for ‘There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake’ series, now translated into Chinese and other media, Hazel has two grandsons for whom she writes a story each birthday.
Hijabi Girl’ Is her latest junior chapter book, co‐written with Muslim librarian, Ozge Alkan.


Oliver Phommavahn
Oliver Phommavanh loves to make people laugh, whether it’s on the page writing humour for kids or on stage as a stand-up comedian. He also shares his passion for writing with the kids he teaches at a primary school in Western Sydney. As a comedian, Oliver has appeared on stage, and on national TV and radio.

Ozge Alkan
Özge Alkan was born in Turkey, grew up in America and lives in Australia. She worked as head librarian at Ilim College and Community Development Librarian Boroondara Library Service. She is a passionate reader and literacy advocate. Her first book ‘Hijabi Girl’ and her first baby arrived in the same year. Ozge wears a hijab, sometimes in her footy club colours.

Jessica Walton
Jessica Walton is a picture book author, teacher, parent, daughter of a trans parent, and proud queer amputee. Introducing Teddy is her first book. Jess wrote it to help explain gender identity in a simple, positive way to her young son. The book started as a Kickstarter project but has now been published around the world and translated into more than ten languages.
Jess lost her leg to cancer aged 9, and has worn a prosthetic leg ever since. Sick of prosthetic legs that tried to mimic real skin, she started wearing patterned prosthetic legs a few years ago. Her current leg is covered in green dragon scales, but she hopes to design a snow globe-style prosthetic leg one day, with glittery snow swirling every time she takes a step.


Bookings not required for this session but you can register to receive an email reminder about the festival.


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