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Guest Feature: Discovering the Riches Down Under: Assimilating Australian Children's and Young Adult Literature into the American Book Market

by Rose Brock

The publishing of international books in the United States is certainly not a new phenomenon; rather, imports from countries all over the world often become quickly adapted into American popular culture. The success of this crossover in children's and young adult literature can to a large part be attributed to J.K. Rowling's HARRY POTTER series, and while Great Britain still dominates as the country exporting the largest body of literature to America, 2004 has seen a growing body of Australian books entering the US publishing market.

In 2004, over a dozen Australian authors have been published in the US, many by major publishing houses. While this number remains small, it is certainly an increase from years past. While Australian literature is slowly catching on in the U.S., several national award winning titles still prove somewhat difficult to obtain (publishers may have to be contacted directly for purchase). The good news is that, overall, it is becoming increasingly easier to obtain these books, and certain titles, such as Melina Marchetta's SAVING FRANCESCA (the 2004 Book of the Year selected by the Children's Book Council of Australia), received extensive promotions in the US by Random House. Other popular Aussie authors, such as Steven Herrick, have watched the first edition of their books release in the US in paperback format. Catherine Jinks's PAGAN CHRONICLES, a four-part YA series, has received extremely strong reviews by American review journals, which will likely boost sales and publicity. New releases from well-known authors Aussie authors such as Mem Fox and Garth Nix continue to be embraced by a large American audience, and strong sales will likely provide more opportunities for lesser-known authors.


Base,Graeme. 2004. JUNGLE DRUMS. New York: Abrams. ISBN0810950448

Tired of being teased, Ngiri, the smallest warthog in Africa, uses a set of magic drums to make wishes, but he is not careful enough and makes the rift between the Warthogs and the beautiful Other Beasts even worse.

Brugman. Alyssa. 2004. FINDING GRACE. New York: Delacorte. ISBN 0385901429

Undecided about her future after graduating from high school, an Australian girl takes a job caring for a brain-damaged woman.

Brugman, Alyssa. 2004. WALKING NAKED. New York: Delacorte. ISBN 0385731159

After being in detention with a girl called "The Freak," Megan finds herself torn between the developing friendship the two share and her involvement with a popular clique.

Fox, Mem. 2004. WHERE IS THE GREEN SHEEP?. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 015204907X

A story about many different sheep, and one that seems to be missing.

Gleitzman, Morris. 2004. TOAD RAGE. New York: Random House. ISBN 037592762X

Determined to understand why humans hate cane toads and to improve relations between the species, Limpy embarks on a dangerous trek from his swamp to the Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.

Herrick, Steven. 2004. LOVE, GHOSTS, AND FACIAL HAIR. New York: Simon Pulse. ISBN 0689867107

Sixteen-year-old Jack, a normal teen in Australia, describes his life and concerns with sex, sports, facial hair, and the death of his mother seven years earlier. Presented in a series of free-verse poems.

Herrick, Steven. 2004. THE SIMPLE GIFT. New York: Simon Pulse. ISBN 0689868677

Sixteen-year-old Billy runs away from his alcoholic, abusive father and takes up residence in an abandoned freight car where he meets Old Bill, a fellow hobo, and together they form a friendship based on small kindnesses that change their lives.

Gleeson, Libby. 2004. CUDDLE TIME. New York: Candlewick. ISBN 0763623202

In the early morning, two children make their way to the cave of their parents' bed and enjoy being cuddled there.

Jinks, Catherine. 2004. PAGAN'S CRUSADE. New York: Candlewick. ISBN 076362019X

In twelfth-century Jerusalem, orphaned sixteen-year-old Pagan is assigned to work for Lord Roland, a Templar knight, as Saladin's armies close in on the Holy City

King, Stephen Michael. 2004. MILLI, JACK, AND THE DANCING CAT. New York: Philomel.ISBN 0399242406

Two wandering minstrels, Jack and the Dancing Cat, help Milli the shoemaker gain the self confidence she needs to express her many creative talents.

Marchetta, Melina. 2004. SAVING FRANCESCA. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375929827

Sixteen-year-old Francesca could use her outspoken mother's help with the problems of being one of a handful of girls at a parochial school that has just turned co-ed, but her mother has suddenly become severely depressed.

Moriarty, Jaclyn.2004.THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books. ISBN 0439498813

Three female students from Ashbury High write to three male students from rival Brookfield High as part of a pen pal program, leading to romance, humiliation, revenge plots, and war between the schools.

Wild, Margaret. 2004. ONE NIGHT. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375829202

In this novel written in free verse and narrated by alternating characters, a teenaged girl decides to have her baby and care for it on her own after a "one night stand" results in pregnancy.

Wild, Margaret. 2004. KISS KISS!. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689862792

Baby Hippo is in such a rush to play one morning he forgets to kiss his mama, but strangely all the jungle noises seem to remind him.

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