James Redden, Harry Hartog Picks ‘There’s a Baddie’ for Christmas

Christmas predictions: James Redden from Harry Hartog in Canberra


Children’s Books

Some of our favourite local authors have some magnificent titles for Christmas. Shelly Unwin’s There’s a Baddie Running Through This Book (A&U) A&U site is so much fun to read out loud with a group of kids. It invokes those same emotions we all felt when first reading There’s a Monster at the End of this Book (Jon Stone, Golden Books).Baddie_GOOD QUALITY

Jack Heath’s The Truth App (Scholastic), the first book in his ‘Liars’ series, is just plain fun. Middle-grade fiction that is perfect to thrill tech-savvy kids, it’s a bit like the TV series Black Mirror but for young readers.

Local picks

The Capital Cookbook 3 (Quicksand Food) has an amazing array of recipes from Canberra’s best chefs and cooks. Coupled with exquisite photography of the nation’s capital, this could be perfect just as a coffee table book.

I can also see Tania McCartney’s new children’s book Mamie (HarperCollins), hitting the top of bestseller lists. It’s a gorgeously illustrated picture book, with the author’s passion for May Gibbs flying off the pages. Something for adults and kids to enjoy.

For his full list of recommendations follow this link…


April Wrap Up

It has been a huge month, with so many wonderful highlights, check out the gallery below.

Running a masterclass on preparing your manuscript for publication with SCBWI ACT. Such a joyous day with so much talent in the room, exiting futures ahead!!

Speaking at the Australian School Library Association (ASLA) conference about interacting with Picture Books. If ever there was a wonderful crowd to talk with about books… Love TL’s!!!!

Catching up with old friends in Lindfield. (they’re not old, I’ve just known them for a long time 😉 )

Seeing giant sized Easter bunnies on the South Coast. They left giant sized (unwrapped) eggs too – everywhere!!

Attending the launch of the Geocon Aspen sales suit with hubby. A very grown up night 🙂

Going to the launch of This is Home collated by Jackie French and illustrated by Tania McCartney. Two such incredibly talented ladies and a book full of Australia’s most powerful poetry to share with kids. And Hip Hip Hooray, written by Tania and illustrated by Jess Racklyeft, the prettiest launch I’ve ever seen! And the children had such a wonderful time with party blowers, pass the parcel and delectable cup cakes!

Signing a giant stack of books for the Dymocks Children’s Charity. The guys at Dymocks Children’s charity do such amazing work to reach children who don’t have access to books, it is wonderful to support their efforts.

Attending the annual Dymocks Great Debate charity gala. What a night! So many laughs, so much great chat, and I came away having bid on and won 10 nights around OZ in a motorhome!!!

Speaking at the CBCA High Tea with the stars event at Penguin Random House HQ. This event was EPIC, so many great talented authors in one room – and one crazy police officer chasing a Baddie!! (oh that was me!)

and, Running a school holiday workshop with these 20 whizz kids at the Children’s Bookshop Beecroft. The bobby was at it again. We had such a joyous morning creating baddies, drawing wanted posters, writing picture books and chasing clues.

There’s a Baddie Running Through This Book

Little Big Reads

ACS_0109.JPGThere’s a Baddie Running Through This Book by Shelly Unwin
Illustrations by Vivienne To
Published by Allen & Unwin
Date: 26 September 2018
R.R.P. $19.99

If you open this book, WATCH OUT!  There is a baddie on the loose and the only one that can catch him is you – the reader.  He’s fast and cheeky, he hides and steals things along the way, especially when he realises he is being chased.  There’s a Baddie Running Through This Book is fun and interactive, encouraging you to NEE NAW and, will make you want to run to catch the cheeky raccoon.


Shelly Unwin has again delighted the reader with her ability to bring books alive, creating an atmosphere of fun and waggishness.  There’s a Baddie Running Through This Book is her best yet and I am not only excited about this book, but for what she will delight us…

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Baddie Running Riot

Over the last two months we have been enjoying the launch of ‘There’s a Baddie Running Through This Book’ It has provided the opportunity for some wonderful dress ups and I have managed to rope a series of volunteers into becoming rascal raccoons and running havoc around the book shops, much to the excitement of the little kids.

Huge Thank you to:

  • Lindfield Learning Hub
  • Beecroft Children’s Bookshop
  • Harry Hartog Woden

For hosting these glorious days.

And to my Raccoons

  • Kim Astil
  • Lizzie from HH Woden
  • Sophie from A&U

You guys ROCK!!!


It’s time to Blast Off!

Over the last ten days we have been counting down to the launch of Blast Off! with some gorgeous Space images below. Please enjoy.

Happy Publication Day Blast Off!!!


Playground rocket




night satelite 3



Atmospheric earth

Space suit


My Social Media Playground

I’ve just signed up for a 30-day social media challenge for authors. And through the initial discussions it has occurred to me that social media can be very much likened to a playground (particularly by me – as I write children’s books, it’s a totally fitting analogy!)

So there’s:


The slide– You climb to the top, only to slide back down to the bottom, before starting your climb again. If you are not making a constant effort you get no-where, and even when you give it a huge push, you always end up right back at the beginning. For me, this is Instagram.



The Roundabout – Need I explain? You’re going round in circles. You’re not sure what you’re doing. You have momentum, but you’re not really sure you’re achieving anything at all. This is most likely linkedin in my world.


The Swings – Look at me! Look at me! Look how high I am. You can build momentum and keep it there, so long as you keep on swinging those little legs. Facebook!

The Fying Fox – We all love the flying fox right? Well the bit as we’re zipping along at breakneck speed, wind through our hair, huge cheesy grin on our faces. But then we hit the end, DOINK! And we have to get off, and run the thing all the way up the hill back to the beginning. This is Twitter, you have moments of fabulous engagement, you’re flying. Then DOINK! You run out of momentum and have to work you’re ass off to build it up again. But how much fun is the ride?!

The Phones – You know, the talky funnels. You think of something important to say and then in your biggest boldest voice you announce it into the funnel. Only to be heard, or miss-heard by the one person at the other end, who just happens to have their ear to the other funnel (your mum?). The Blog!



The Spinny Things– These I fear! I have been green in the past – I’m not being green again. They’re my no go zone. In social media, this is snap chat and pinterest. I’m not saying they’re not awesome for some people. It’s just I don’t have the stomach, especially not when I’ve already exhausted myself on all the other equipment.


But it’s all good fun. It’s all playing, right? Important not to take it too seriously, but maybe there are techniques to making each ride easier and more fun. And at the end of the day we all need friends at the park, if we don’t take them with us, we can make them there, and there’s lots of fun in that!!

For those interested the challenge is being run by Michelle Worthington, you can find it on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/socialmediaforcreativebusinesses/?multi_permalinks=297067150819636%2C294818521044499&notif_id=1517826002446951&notif_t=group_activity&ref=notif

If you’d like to come play with me in the playground, you can find me here:

Blog: https://shellyunwin.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=shelly%20unwin%20author%20page

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/shellyunwin/

Twitter @unwin_shelly

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shellyunwin/









Win Win Win!!

Shelly and books

This week the Australian Writers’ Centre is running a competition for one lucky winner to walk away with the complete You’re series! That’s all five books! You’re One! to You’re Five! So… if you’ve got some special little ones in your life why don’t you give it a go. It’s super easy!!

Just follow the link below …

and Good Luck xxx

click here to enter

Could this be yours??? book stack

COMP CLOSED: WIN What’s YOUR favourite number?

Podcast Interview

It was with great pleasure that I took a trip down memory lane with Valerie Khoo on her wonderful podcast ‘So You Want to be a Writer.’ Valerie was keen to explore what made me want to become a writer, how I ran my ‘writing business’ and how I was eventually fortunate enough to find a publishing home for my You’re Five! series with Allen & Unwin.

19957001_10154890433778391_9044094780228070033_o-2Listen here

Valerie is the National Director of The Australian Writer’s Centre, which was where I embarked on my very first writing course: ‘Writing Picture Books’ and she was wonderfully generous in agreeing  to launch my series when they first hit the market in June this year.


With Valerie Khoo, speaker extraordinaire, National Director of the Australian Writers Centre, Author, Journalist and the list goes on. Basically an incredible lady!

I feel very lucky to have Valerie’s support and it was an absolute delight to chat to her on her podcast. Listen here

One of the things I forgot to mention during the interview when Valerie asked how I had spent my time when I was working towards becoming an author, was building my author platform. This blog post – my Facebook page Facebook link, my Instagram Account Insta link and my Twitter Account, Twitter link  have all taken time to establish and build. They’re all still a work in progress, but something that has definitely been valuable in finding a writing community.

The Boomerang Books Blog – You’re Five! Series review by Dimity Powell

The You’re Series by Shelly Unwin and Katherine Battersby

Oh, those first five years of a child’s life, how they sweep by, each day a miracle, each birthday a momentous, memorable milestone. Throughout each new year of baby’s life, so many small but wondrous discoveries take place. Many of them are divinely captured in Unwin’s debut picture book collection, The You’re Series.

Five buttery looking and feeling board books describe in gorgeous rhyming verse all the wonder, curiosity and excitement experienced by youngsters (and their besotted parents) throughout their early childhood years. Each tummy tickle, new step, fresh experience (like puddle splashing!),  bike ride, new friendship and so on paint a happy picture from which to draw on your own ‘first time’ memories.Far more than just number inspired, counting books (although the gentle nod to numeracy skills is fabulous), You’re books are true keepsakes.  One and Two are genuine board books; thick sturdy pages will defeat the most dedicated page rippers. By Three, solid board gives way to robust paper pages, which along with the more refined text, acknowledges the developing child and their increased ability to comprehend and appreciate the importance of their age. By age Five, the concepts are more sophisticated and pre-school pre-emptive; we are introduced to the five vowels and five days of the school week for instance.

Battersby’s illustrations, an addictive combination of drawings and collage, are superbly character driven and oozing with cute appeal. I love the whole package, all five of them! The You’re Series was released as a complete five book collection so would make the perfect gift pack for expectant parents or indeed singularly at any point of pre-school age celebration. And the best bit? Each gorgeous compilation ends with a tender reminder to enjoy the age that you are now, ‘take it nice and slow’ as we’ll never be that age again.

Allen & Unwin May 2017

Kids Book Review : 12 Curly Questions with author Shelly Unwin


1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you. 

I used to be a chronic sleepwalker. I once packed up my entire bedroom, including the pictures on the walls and the curtains. Fortunately I grew out of it!

2. What is your nickname? 

 I have a few! My school friends and sports friends call me Froggy because my maiden name was Froggatt. My brother calls me Spud, because he’s strange. And my husband calls me Twinkle.

3. What is your greatest fear?

Never having another great picture book idea again.

4. Describe your writing style in 10 words. 

Fun, engaging, sneakily informative, with lots of rhyme and rhythm.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer. 
 Exciting, educating, emotive, engaging, and effervescent (the last one is one my agent used to describe me – I’ve stolen it).

6. What book character would you be, and why?

Miss Petitfour. She’s this wonderful woman who flies around with the wind caught in her tablecloth and her 16 cats hanging from her coat tails. She heads off on beautiful little adventures and always comes back to a delicious cream tea. It’s a simple but whimsical life.

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why? 
1982. I would love to be five again and have just started school. I’d be playing with the water wheel in the water play area or having three-legged races in the playground. I think five is such a magical age; the whole world is starting to open up and every day is an adventure.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now? 
Why aren’t you a professional horse rider? I thought that was our plan?

9. Who is your greatest influence? 

Wow this is really hard to narrow down. I take influence from so many different aspects of life. Some of my closest friends are such wonderful parents. My husband is so smart and dedicated. And then there is the world of books. I love the sheer talent and capacity of Jacqueline Harvey, the picture book humour of Nick Bland, the brilliant rhythm and rhyme of Julia Donaldson. I could go on!

10. What/who made you start writing? 

It was an epiphany. A sudden realisation of what it was that I wanted to do. Nothing has ever felt quite so right. At that moment, I happened to be reading Incy Wincy Spider, by Keith Chapman and Jack Tickle.

11. What is your favourite word and why?

Bedtime! I love this word twice. Once when I get to say it to the kids and once when it’s mine and I get to crawl under my doona at the end of a long day.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? 
 Bill Bryson’s The Thunderbolt Kid. If I had to read one book forever it would need to be one that made me laugh.

Shelly Unwin grew up in a tiny English village where she was surrounded by animals, the occasional pixie fairy and her best friend Cracker, a feisty palomino pony. She was the middle child of three, but also had 11 foster siblings (not all at the same time). Shelly studied teaching and biology at university in Birmingham and moved to Australia in 2002, where she has since married an Aussie with two beautiful kids and added another two to the brood. She plays with words all week long and loves that she can call it ‘work’. For more information, see shellyunwin.com.

Spotlight On: Shelly Unwin | NSW Writers’ Centre


Spotlight On: Shelly Unwin

Shelly Unwin, an up-and-coming children’s book author, is our feature writer for this month’s Spotlight On. Shelly grew up in England surrounded by animals and a feisty palomino pony. She was the middle child of three and had eleven foster siblings (though not all at the same time!). At university, she studied teaching and biology, and she moved to Australia in 2002.

Shelly’s debut series of picture books, You’re One!, You’re Two!, You’re Three!, You’re Four!, and You’re Five! is due for release on the 1st of June. Shelly has two more picture books coming out in 2018, marking the cusp of an exciting career. Shelly is actively involved with several schools as the ‘author in residence’ for their writing programs and has spoken at various writers’ events in Sydney. Shelly lives on Sydney’s North Shore with her husband and their two young children. Our intern Ren Arcamone spoke to Shelly about the unique challenges of writing for children and the unexpected upsides of joining a writers’ group.


What inspired you to begin writing childrens literature?

It was an epiphany during my routine bedtime reading session with my three-year-old daughter Katie. The book in my hand was ‘Incy Wincy Spider’ by Keith Chapman and Jack Tickle (a great name for someone illustrating spiders, don’t you think?). A month earlier a friend had asked me what I was passionate about and suddenly I knew with complete conviction that I was passionate about picture books and that I wanted to create my own stories.

Youve recently finished writing a series of five childrens rhyming books, Youre One!, Youre Two!, Youre Three!, Youre Four!, and Youre Five!, all due for release this June. The concept is simple yet warm and memorable. What do you think makes a good idea for a childrens book, and how do you dream it up? 

Gosh, that’s hard. I had written so many different books before I had the idea for this series. And they all seemed like good ideas. But when the idea for Youre Five! (the first one I wrote in the series) struck me, I just knew it was ‘the one’. I had hot sweats and felt giddy with excitement. I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t already out in the market. It is a story that celebrates being five and the number five, and it speaks directly to the five-year-old child, making them feel special. There is no mention of childhood milestones, so every five year old that reads the book can feel successful and wonderful just by being five.

My daughter was five at the time. But it didn’t feel like I ‘thought’ of the idea. The idea just arrived, and the text just flooded its way onto the page. I worked backwards down to Youre One! with the text becoming more simplified and the context more immediate to the child’s world, e.g. ‘One tummy to tickle, one head to shake.’

Other books I’ve written have involved a different process. My son was obsessed with space, and I’d been thinking I’d like to write a great space book for about 6 weeks before the idea of how to write Blast Off! revealed itself.

My other picture book being published by Allen & Unwin next year is Theres a Baddie Running Through This Book, which was again inspired by my son, who was fascinated by one page in a library book that showed a burglar being chased by a police car. My creative process feels as though I’m writing the words but I don’t have control over the process; it just happens. Of course, there are multiple, multiple edits before the story ever leaves the house.

I think a good idea for a children’s book is one that resonates with the child’s interests, that pulls them into the story, making them feel involved and empowering them to feel great.

Your writers’ group here at the Centre played an interesting role in helping you find a publisher. Could you tell us that story?

I joined my critique group fairly early in the piece, after seeing an article by the group convenor Penny Morrison in Newsbite. The first and most important thing I learnt as part of this group was how to take constructive criticism and make it work for me, and how to edit, edit and re-edit before submitting. I also learnt about all of the networking opportunities, festivals and publisher critiques that were available to me. Most significantly, my group invited publishers to come along and critique our work in front of the whole group. I learnt so much through this process, but I also had the opportunity to present Blast Off!to Random House, which eventually landed me the publishing contract. Being a part of this critique group has also provided me with a group of like-minded friends who have provided support and guidance every step of the bumpy way.


How did you come to meet Katherine Battersby, the illustrator for your upcoming books? Whats the creative process of working with an illustrator like? 

I haven’t ever had the pleasure of meeting Katherine. She is Australian, but based in Canada. It was Allen & Unwin that made the introduction and my first communication with her was via her first storyboard, which simply blew me away. She is such a talent and I have loved everything that she has presented for this project. I am not sure it is usually as easy as it has been with Katherine. She has always been so on point and added so much to the project through her wonderful creativity. We just let her to do what she does so well and revelled in the results.


Your non-fiction picture book Blast Off! is due to be published by Penguin Random House in 2018. Tell us a bit about it. 

As I mentioned above, it was my son Harrison’s fascination with space that inspired this story. I had found that non-fiction books on space seemed too overloaded with facts to hold his interest, but that he was really keen to learn about the planets.  I wanted to write something that would engage him in a story, make him giggle and give him the opportunity to learn some facts along the way. Hopefully with Blast Off! I have achieved this balance.


Do you have a regular writing routine? If so, what does it involve? 

I used to. For years I would drop the kids at school/ daycare, grab a coffee and then chain myself to the desk for the limited time they were away. This year my youngest started kindergarten, and the luxury of five child-free days seems to have wreaked havoc with my discipline. I am also distracted with launch preparations for my series at the moment, as well as working with a couple of schools on big writing projects. One thing that often seems to happen is this: I get myself all lined up to work on my latest young adult novel, and then, like magic, a picture book idea strikes me and diverts my attention. It is a wonderful thing, yet frustrating at the same time. One day I will finish and submit one of my YA stories!


Do you have any advice for emerging childrens book writers? 

Yes! Heaps! But most strongly I would recommend joining a critique group to get solid feedback on your work. Attend as many literary events that focus on your genre as you possibly can. Read, read, read. And if you’re serious, dedicate yourself to your writing like you would to running any other type of business. Take yourself seriously (although not too seriously), believe in yourself and take every opportunity to educate yourself further.


What are you reading at the moment? 

I am reading a young adult novel The Impossible Story of Olive in Love by Tonia Alexandra, who is one of my friends from the CBCA Northern Sub Branch. I’ve only just started but I’m intrigued already!


In your opinion, who/what is the most inspiring

Writer/Poet? Jacqueline Harvey. She is a superbly successful writing machine, but she is also one of the most generous writers I have ever met. She cares about emerging writers and is incredibly supportive and encouraging.

Book? The Book Thief.

Weather? Rain

Time of day? School hours!

Music? Silence, ahhhh!

Location? Kitchen table with my puppy at my feet.

You can find Shelly’s Facebook author page here, and you can follow her on Instagram here.