05 December 2014

More praise for Figgy

'I cannot remember when the demise of a goat has ever affected me much, but I felt more than a pang when Kwame exited the pages of Figgy in the World, Tamsin Janu’s début novel of an endearing young heroine and her pet ...' Ruth Starke, ABR

'Figgy is my literary hero for 2014, against very stiff competition.' Emily Gale, The Best Junior Fiction Books of 2014, Readings

You can read more about the promising young author Tamsin Janu here.

03 December 2014

Books for Birls and Goys

'Children should have the right to choose their own literature and we should be supporting them to carve their paths of interests instead of narrowing them. It is ignorant, old fashioned and ugly to isolate anybody from the beautiful freedom and escapism of the mind that reading for pleasure brings.' Laura Dockrill in The Guardian

Just some of the non-gendered books and covers we're proud of. Girls will be boys and boys will be girls, Mr Abbott.

25 November 2014

'One Night' by Penny Matthews and Stephen Michael King

We're very pleased to see that One Night has made Emily Gale's Christmas reading list over at Readings this silly season. Emily says: 'It’s warm and friendly in both words and drawings; beautifully done.' 

We think so, too!

07 November 2014

Holiday activities

Our multi-talented author Tania Ingram has value-added to her already wonderful book Dog on Log with craft activities based on characters from the book. Educational and crafty! Click over and bookmark the page ready for school holidays - they're just around the corner!

05 November 2014

Christmas is coming - the editor's getting desperate for a holiday

Just a wee word of warning - our offices will be closing for Christmas on December 19th and will not be reopening until January 5th.  In that time we stop all mail deliveries.  From about the end of November to the end of January we encourage you to hold off sending us your work as there is a higher than average chance it will not be read.
We are delighted by the response to our novel shout out - keep up the good work.

We thought you might like to see our delightful reading room so you can imagine your editor sitting gracefully at her desk, manuscript in hand, glass of wine at the ready.  Yes Virginia, there really IS a Santa Claus.

30 September 2014

A NEW Shout Out - for Novels

We haven't stopped searching for picture books so you should keep them coming in. (We have turned up four so far that while they need more work do look promising). Meanwhile we are looking for novels.


Novels suitable for the 9 to 11-year-old market around 25,000 to 35,000 words and with strong plot and characterisation. We don't have a preference for boy-centered or girl centered works, just fabulous stories. When authors ask me what I want I tend to say 'Give me something as poignant as The Bridge To Terabithia or as funny as Hating Alison Ashley.

I have been reading a lot of novels lately and not just the ones that turn up at the office.  An adult story I read last week stayed with me for its beautiful language and its odd and confronting plot. It's not a new story (The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks in case you are wondering) but its historical setting and its re-imagined take on that was so entertaining I read it in a couple of days. I like historical novels when they don't stray too far from the truth and when the characters feel alive. If I could I'd have an historical novel full of drama and adventure that would suit both boys and girls. But then again I love stories based in the here and now. What I see too much of are novels that have no real point. Stories where the plot is so fantastic it makes no sense or where the family is unbelievable; usually these stories have characters I just don't invest in at all.  And there lies the key to a novel that really works - start with a character you love.  From there springs the voice, the plot and the resolution.

So come on, everyone. Spread the word. Get those fingers flying over the keyboard.

Send me a blockbuster ...

And in case you're wondering why there is a rather random picture of a croissant here - it's because it's a prize-winning croissant!  Royal Adelaide Show 2014 - feature country, France. I have another life and it involves baking  which may be my next occupation I think; teaching the wonders of cooking with yeast.

15 September 2014

The Art of the Picture Book

After a shout-out for picture book texts we did indeed receive over 1000 texts from hopeful picture book writers all over the world.  Now that should make us happy - because our usual success rate is one in a thousand.  But this time the statistics have failed us.  The manuscripts are still coming in, and although there were some really lovely ideas and a handful that we wrote back to congratulating them on their very original idea, not one was publishable.  We haven't given up hope however.

It might be useful to listen in to the podcast of a session I did at Adelaide Writers' Week this year  (Sunday 2 March) on The Art of the Picture Book, with Tohby Riddle and Nick Bland. You can find it here.  These two very successful men both write and illustrate and neither of them had a straight line to success.

Now if you think (as some do) that you cannot send more than one text to Omnibus in a month, this is incorrect. We are happy to receive your work any time.

And we are still looking for that winning picture book.


September for the Littlies

Following her CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year win in 2013, Emma Allen is back this month with a new book called Grandma, the Baby and Me with wonderful illustrator Hannah Sommerville. A new baby in the house is always a challenge for an older sibling and that's when grandmothers can save the day.

I think this is my favourite spread from the book – I've been there!

And another one for the babies, a new edition of My Possum Magic Baby Book is out this month. Always the go-to baby shower gift, don't you think?

03 September 2014

Indigenous Literacy Day

During the month of September the Readings Foundation is directing all donations to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, an organisation supporting literacy in remote Aboriginal communities. So here's a plan: buy an Omnibus book with a bush theme from Readings today and while you're there make a direct donation to the cause. It's a win all around!

04 August 2014

Regarding the Picture Book Shout-Out

Close to 1000 people have read this post.

Out of interest, we say in publishing that one in a thousand unsolicited manuscripts hits the mark ... and it's a pretty good rule of thumb.

Watch this space for that one in a thousand.


Derek 'Danger' Dale book launch

A book was launched! Angel cakes were eaten - yum! Prizes were won by Luke and Elise! Photos were taken. Fun was had. Congratulations, Michael and Joe!

23 July 2014

Picture Book Manuscripts Wanted!

Here is a big shout-out to all aspiring picture book creators - we are looking for new texts for our 2017 publishing list. 

But here is what we DON'T want stories about:

cute dogs/cute kids
how an animal/child/creature of any kind discovers it is different and that's okay
how much anyone loves anyone else.

We DO want stories that:

are imaginative 
are original
make you think
make you smile.

Of course these are the hardest stories to write. We want you to think outside the box and come up with something that is going to knock our socks off. A really child-friendly picture book has something very special at its heart. It is instantly accessible. It has a universal truth to it. It sings somehow.

Please don't try to rhyme if you're not good at it.
Don't overwrite - 300 words is pretty perfect.

Picture books that someone else published that we think are pretty close to perfect would be:

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson

  Image result for stick man cover

The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr

 Image result for The Tiger Who Came To Tea cover

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

 Image result for where the wild things are book cover

Hairy Maclary From Donaldson's Dairy by Lynley Dodd

The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack

 Image result for The Story About Ping cover

Please read our manuscript submission guidelines here before you send in your work.

We would love to hear your suggestions for the best children's picture books of all time.  Better still ... write one for us!

21 July 2014

Fan mail

Omnibus illustrator Martin McKenna recently received some lovely feedback on his new picture book Octopuppy. Thank you so much, Ms Bicknell, for getting in touch and sharing the children's work! 

Hi Martin,

My prep class (6 year olds) have been so excited to be reading Octopuppy this week. They cheer every time I get it out to read to them. They have loved every minute of our reading lessons this week.  

I have attached some pictures of the 'Lost' posters that they made. We hung them up around the school before turning them into a classroom display. The kids had to create a poster to help find Jarvis by picking something that he could do that a 'normal' puppy couldn't. It was a great activity. I hope you enjoy seeing some of the amazing learning that has happened through the use of your hilarious book. 

Kind regards,

Ella Bicknell 
Prep Teacher
Grahamvale Primary School


17 July 2014

Word Crimes

When our resident grammar expert sent me this link it made me laugh out loud.  Weird Al Yankovic has a song called Word Crimes - take a look. Of course there are those who disagree. It's great to see Al worrying at the grammar bone so to speak.

My butcher loves to put signs up all over his shop touting his meat.  He can't spell or punctuate which used to be guaranteed to make me reach for a texta. He tries to tell me he does this deliberately just to get his customers talking. I doubt it. He has clearly never come across these and neither had I until recently. Personally I intend to celebrate National Punctuation Day even if it is an American affectation.  I shall make a waffle, top it with bacon and maple syrup and think pure punctuation thoughts.

My son's best friend has a misspelled tattoo that made me laugh out loud when I saw it. There are some absolute masterpieces here

What is it about grammar and spelling that makes some of us so sensitive? Does it really matter any more? We have authors who can't spell – we do it for them. A little while ago the Oxford comma was pronounced dead but then like Lazarus it rose again.  (I was afraid to use a comma anywhere in that sentence. The nuns used to red circle my commas without explanation and to this day I feel unsure and unhappy when I meet one.  A comma, and a nun for that matter.)  I remember when I got my first manuscript back from the editor and saw that I had spelled the simplest of words incorrectly half a dozen times.  Not even a possible typo just a straight out mistake. I cringed. I realised I'd probably spelled that particular word wrongly all my life.

My children were hounded relentlessly about their spoken and written language as they grew up. Thinking back it is clear that this was what my own mother did and so did those nuns so it was little wonder I followed suit. But now a certain ennui is setting in. Those same kids send me texts and Facebook posts littered with misspelled words or indecipherable contractions that require me to ask for explanations. I still can't wrap my head around the whole concept of a meme though I do like this picture which I am reliably told is itself a meme.  I have no clue why it's a meme however and welcome any explanation.

My clever clogs children like to point out things are different now. They suggest I fit this category. Possibly. But trust me; I am not rotfl

And I really, really, hope, I haven't wrote nothing wrong in this blog ...

06 July 2014

Book review 'Secret Agent Derek ‘Danger’ Dale: The Case of Animals Behaving Really REALLY Badly'

* Secret Agents R Definitely NOT Us HQ
* Countess Kristabel von Krystal, Crudman, Archibald Boss, Twittles, Blubber Boy, Carlos and Carmen, Chirpy, Annabel and Evil Doctor Evil MacEvilness

Alfie Jellett, 8

Thanks, Alfie! Remember, if you enjoy reading an Omnibus book and write a book review you can email it to info at scholastic dot com dot au and receive a free book!

02 July 2014

Tales from the Half-Continent

Thank you, Reading Time, for the lovely review of David Cornish's new companion book to the Monster Blood Tattoo series, Tales from the Half-Continent. 'Dickensian in style and tone and peopled by a host of strong, eccentric and memorable characters' is high praise indeed.

23 June 2014

Derek 'Danger' Dale

We are, you might say, super excited about the release next month of Michael Bauer's new series Derek Danger Dale. Do we think the world has enough super heroes? Well, now that Derek's here, it definitely does. Pop over to Michael Bauer's website to watch some other hilarious behind-the-scenes videos.

11 June 2014

The Bush Book Club

Bilby, like lots of new readers, can't sit still long enough to enjoy reading a book. And yet he feels lonely and left out when his friends are meeting at the Bush Book Club headquarters. One night after they have all gone home Bilby sneaks in and discovers a book that makes his heart sing. And then he discovers the sequel ... 

An ode to the power of reading, The Bush Book Club, written by master of children's stories Margaret Wild and illustrated by Ben Wood (who can draw an Australian marsupial like no other), this is one for all the young readers in your life.

06 June 2014

Latest reviews

Thank you, Readings, for two lovely reviews of Omnibus books. It's always nice to hear good feedback and these are two very deserving books. Hop over for a look and pop them in your shopping basket!


22 May 2014

CBCA 2014 Canberra

The CBCA celebrated itself last weekend with its conference in Canberra.  Well done to all the organisers - it is a truly gargantuan, herculean job to pull all those people and events together.  Especially wonderful was the dinner in the War Memorial which stunned us all.  The War Memorial in Canberra is a very extraordinary place in the day time but at night as I entered in front of the darkened pool of remembrance with the eternal flame flickering at the far end and then walked past those silent cases of medals and uniforms and photographs it made a chill run up my spine.  War is not splendid, it is not glorious; it is sombre and sad and it relies on the deaths of men and women and children.  I believe it can never be celebrated but it must be remembered.
We watched a light and sound show from above the Lancaster Bomber, G for George, which had flown in WW11.  An enormous machine it dominated the very large space and around it the caterers had set the tables.  We sat, dwarfed, under a wing and enjoyed a very fine dinner.   In fact I would go so far as to say this was the best CBCA dinner I have attended.

What would publishing in this country do without the CBCA awards?  When I was first publisher at Omnibus a shortlisting could add as much as 20000 to a book's print run, sometimes even more.  Now we are lucky to get an extra two or three thousand copies but in this age of diminishing book sales these extra copies are so very important.  So I thank them all, those judges whose opinions I might argue with are doing a wonderful, important job and it is through their consistent and devoted efforts that Australian children's publishing is stable.

Here I am at the national Library with Mark Mcleod.  Mark is the tall chap in the front.  I am the dwarf behind him.  Photography is clearly not the talent of Ann James who took this image.  Thankfully she is awash with other talents.  Books Illustrated put on an exhibition of Bob Graham's work - wow.  I was speechless and not because I had drunk two glasses of champagne.  Or three.  The man is a talent so big he ought to have a special award all for himself.
Curated so very well by Ann James and Anne Haddon - well done ladies.

Omnibus slipped a book into each of the conference bags and already we have had some wonderful feedback - this from an attendee:

Just finished reading Catherine Norton's book, CROSSING. Published with Omnibus Books, it's a fabulous read - a true 'couldn't put it down' sort of book, with many insightful explorations of the human condition; about how brainwashing takes away empathy; and the institutional terror of a repressive regime told matter-of-factly through the voice of an (almost) accepting child. Thoroughly recommended for ages 10-100 (or thereabouts). Even though specific places or time-frame are not told, anyone old enough to be aware of the tragedy of the Berlin Wall and the heroics of many who fought against it will thrill at this story told through the observant Cara's eyes. It will also work for a generation of younger readers (and thinkers). '12 year-old Cara has grown up in the shadow of the Wall, in a closed world of food shortages and high security. Her parents are dedicated to their secret work for the government, and it’s only a matter of time before her gifted younger sister follows in their footsteps. It’s all Cara has ever known, until the summer she meets Ava and Leon. Ava doesn’t care about rules. Nothing will ever be the same." 
 Happy days

I was really pleased to chair a session with our own marvelous Michael Bauer. 
Michael is possibly the most versatile author we have in our list - his talent extends to  just about every genre - he hasn't yet written detective fiction but hey!  Who knows?  Michael shared the stage with his good mate and almost-as-talented friend Barry Jonsberg.   Those two were seriously funny.
Micheal's newest series is the spin off from Eric Vale - Derek Danger Dale.   This cartoon within the Eric series was so funny we wanted the character to have a life of his own - Michael has invented the wackiest story lines I've ever seen.  

And lastly it was really really lovely to catch up with all my mates from publishing; Erica, Laura , Maryanne, , Zoe, Stephanie, Rochelle, Margrete...all women who work tirelessly to support, defend and grow Australian children's publishing.
here's to our wonderful industry and all the extraordinary people in it!

29 April 2014

Win a copy of 'Crossing' and a prize pack of books for your school!

To celebrate the May 2014 release of Crossing, the new novel by Catherine Norton, we're having a competition! What can you win?
Three winning entries will receive a prize pack of books valued at $50 plus a signed copy of Crossing.
To enter, go to the author’s website, read an excerpt from Crossing and imagine in 25 words or less what you would do in Cara’s situation with ninety-two eggs. Cook an omelette for a giant?  Start an easter bunny franchise? The longest egg and spoon race ever? 
Entries close Tuesday 10 June 2014. (Open to all residents of Australia aged between 10 and 18.) So get cracking! (Oops, sorry.)

Twelve-year-old Cara has grown up in the shadow of the Wall, in a closed world of food shortages and high security. Her parents are dedicated to their secret work for the government, and it’s only a matter of time before her gifted younger sister follows in their footsteps.
It’s all Cara has ever known, until the summer she meets Ava and Leon. Ava doesn’t care about rules. Nothing will ever be the same.