News, reviews + interviews [June]

News, reviews + interviews [June]

I used to blog every day. Can you believe that? I can’t. I find it particularly difficult to imagine in months like this, where weeks fly by like hours and I pop in here to write something and realise it’s been a month since I’ve shown my face.

But I digress.

This post is going to be like one of those Christmas letters we used to receive in the days before Facebook showed us the inner workings of the lives of our friends and family on a daily basis.

An easy, breezy catch-up, light on detail, strong on the highlights, glossing over the bad bits that nobody really wants to know about anyway.

So where have I been?



It’s been a busy month for school visits and other events. One of the highlights was, of course, the So You Want To Be A Writer Live event at Vivid Sydney on 8 June.

So You Want To Be A Writer Live event at Vivid Sydney

“How are ya, Al?” The event incorporated all the things that listeners love about our podcast – and more!


Allison Tait, Pamela Freeman, Candice Fox, Valerie Khoo at Vivid | allisontait.com

Our Power Panel: Allison Tait, Pamela Freeman, Candice Fox, Valerie Khoo.

So YOu Want To Be A Writer live at Vivid | allisontait.com

Valerie and I were thrilled to see so many people packed into the MCA for the live recording.







(If you missed out, click here to listen to the special live podcast episode.)

Thanks to everyone who came along and gave So You Want To Be A Writer (the book) such a brilliant welcome into the world.

Buy your copy here.


Last weekend, I headed down to Milton to participate in three sessions at the inaugural Storyfest festival.

A.L. Tait and Jaclyn Moriarty at Storyfest | allisontait.com

Panel at storyfest | allisontait.com







It was a wonderful day, and included the opportunity to interview the charming Jaclyn Moriarty (above left) about her children’s books (and if you’d like to get an idea of what that might have included, listen to my earlier podcast interview with Jaclyn here).

And then there was the chance to talk about adventure stories with Meredith Jaffe, and a very entertaining panel about podcasts and audio books with Pamela Cook, David Hunt and Katherine Collette (above right).

Note to self: organise audio versions of A.L. Tait’s books asap!


The pace of my year does not look like slowing any time soon. Upcoming events include:

•Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival, Mackay, Qld, 17-19 July, 2019 (Program here)

Shoalhaven Readers’ & Writers’ Festival, Nowra, NSW, 27 July, 2019: I’m teaching a limited-places writing workshop for kids 9-13 at 12 noon. (Details here.) 

If you’d like to talk to me about speaking at your school or event, go here.

And stand by for a couple of other very exciting announcements.


ALA book review The Book Of Secrets | allisontait.com


“A fast-paced adventure brimming with mystery and complex navigations of loyalty and morality.”

I was thrilled by this review of THE BOOK OF SECRETS on Booklist Online, the review site of the American Library Association. Read the full book review here. 


It is true that I tend to interview people rather than being interviewed, and I can vouch for the fact that we have some very exciting and entertaining guests coming up on the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast over the next few weeks.

One interview I particularly enjoyed was this one, with US author Peter Rock. If you want to know why, you’ll need to listen to it but suffice to say that Peter enjoyed a year at an Australian school ‘back in the day’ and we shared an English teacher for that year. I always knew he’d end up a writer – even if he didn’t!

From the other side of the microphone, thanks to Nick Rheinberger, ABC Illawarra, for having me on his morning show recently to talk about the So You Want To Be A Writer book.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic middle-grade adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher.

 You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

The Book Of Secrets + The Book Of Answers out now in the US!

The Book Of Secrets + The Book Of Answers out now in the US!

Out now in the USA: The Ateban Cipher series by A.L. TaitWelcome to 2019! I hope you’ve had a fantastic and very restful holiday break.

I’ve spent a few weeks away from my blog and everything that goes with it, and I confess to feeling much refreshed by the virtual vacation.

But I’m back at my desk today and ready to do some serious editing (or, let’s face it, as ready as I ever am to face editing…)

While I was off at the beach, however, some exciting things have been happening.

My two Ateban Cipher novels, The Book Of Secrets and The Book of Answers, are now both available in the United States through Kane Miller, the fab people who have already brought The Mapmaker Chronicles series to US and Canadian readers.

The Book Of Secrets (Ateban Cipher 1) by A.L. Tait out now in the USA

The covers may be different  but the epic adventure story, about the secrets of the mysterious coded manuscript known as The Ateban Cipher, remains the same.

As does the dedication in The Book Of Secrets.

Dedication from The Book Of Secrets by A.L. Tait

You can find out more about the books and purchase them directly here on the publisher’s website

I hope that US readers will take Gabe, Merry, Gwyn and the rest of the gang to their hearts in the way that Australian readers have done (you can read the Goodreads reviews here and here)! Thanks for all your support.

Looking for the Australian editions of The Ateban Cipher? You’ll find them here.

100+ gift book ideas for kids of all ages

100+ gift book ideas for kids of all ages

100+ book gift ideas for kids of all ages | allisontait.comToday the very last of my 2018 book lists was published by Vanessa over at Style & Shenanigans, so it seems a very good time to collate them all in one place for easy reference (as much for me, as for you…)

So, here it is, the ultimate list of my recent book lists. Hundreds of books for readers aged from babies to teens.

If you’re looking for a new read for your kids for Christmas, for the holidays, or at any time of year, bookmark this page for easy reference. Click the post title to visit the full list.

Your Kid’s Next Read: Recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition)

15 more tried-and-tested books for 13/14-year-old boys (+ 13 expert choices)

5 picture book picks for Christmas

10 spooky (or scary) middle-grade books for Halloween

40 YA books for tweens (+ 25 middle-grade books that feel like YA)

23 newish books for tweens by Australian women

21 book gifts for reluctant readers they won’t be able to resist

30 books by Australian authors to give to kids this Christmas

30 (more) brilliant books for girls this Christmas

The best kids’ books for Christmas

I’m sure you’ll find the perfect book for your young reader on one of these lists!

Need more? You’ll find another 100+ book ideas for your young reader here, in my round-up on last year’s book lists (great books remain great books, no matter what year they’re published, after all…)

If you’re after specific recommendations for a very particular kind of reader, why not join my Facebook community Your Kid’s Next Read, where you’ll find 5000+ parents, teachers, booksellers, librarians, bloggers and other interested parties all ready to help with recommendations? We’d love to see you there.

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m the author of two epic adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher, and you can find out more about me here.

Both The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher are great for kids aged 9+ and you can find out more about them here

Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition)

Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition)

Your Kid's Next Read: Recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, 14+ (2018 edition) | allisontait.comIn 2016, I started a Facebook group called Your Kid’s Next Read with everyone’s favourite teacher-librarian/blogger Megan Daley from Children’s Books Daily.

Our idea was to bring together a community of parents, teachers, booksellers, librarians and other interested parties to recommend great children’s books to each other, ensuring that every kid – be they a reluctant reader or an advanced reader – would have a ‘perfect next book’ for their reading journey.

Not long after we started, we created a recommended reading list, which was an overview of books that were recommended over and over in the group. There are two parts to that list:

Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 3-9+

Your Kid’s Next Read: recommended reading lists for kids 10+, 12+, YA for tweens

Both of these lists are terrific and the books and authors on these lists are STILL recommended over and over within our group.

BUT, time passes, new members join and amazing new books come out all the time.

Your Kid’s Next Read (2018)

Today, our YKNR community has 5000+ members and it’s a thriving, busy place (you should join us here). So, Megan and I, and our excellent moderator Allison Rushby, decided it was time for an update of our list. So we threw it open to our membership once again.

These are the books that YKNR members thought were missing from our reading lists, along with some stellar reads that the YKNR Admin Team wouldn’t want you to miss. Click the book title* to find out more about each book to help you decide if it’s right for your kid.

Between the new list and our earlier one, we just know you’ll find an amazing next read for your kid right here!

Books for kids 10+

Storm Boy by Colin Thiele

Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty, illustrated by Kelly Canby

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

The Turnkey by Allison Rushby

The Mulberry Tree by Allison Rushby

Nevermoor (series) by Jessica Townsend

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan (I highly recommend the audio book for this one – Heather, YKNR member)

The Penderwicks (series) by Jeanne Birdsall

His Name Was Walter by Emily Rodda

City of Orphans (series) by Catherine Jinks

Tarin Of The Mammoths by Jo Sandhu

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby

The Ateban Cipher (series) by A.L. Tait

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Ratcatcher’s Daughter by Pamela Rushby

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The YKNR Admin team would add:

Figgy In The World (series) by Tamsin Janu

Woo’s Wonderful World Of Maths by Eddie Woo

The Shop at Hooper’s Bend by Emily Rodda

Missing by Sue Whiting

Kensy and Max by Jacqueline Harvey

Lenny’s Book Of Everything by Karen Foxlee

The Boy and The Spy by Felice Arena

The War I Finally Won by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Glaser

The Endsister by Penni Russon

Lockwood & Co (series) by Jonathon Stroud

A Ghost in my Suitcase (series) by Gabrielle Wang

Greenglass House (series) by Kate Milford

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Snow Pony by Alison Lester

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens

Dragonfly Song by Wendy Orr

Swallow’s Dance by Wendy Orr

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim

Whimsy and Woe by Rebecca McRitchie

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

How to Bee by Bren MacDibble

Natural Born Loser by Oliver Phommavanh

Books for kids 12+

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird series) by Claudia Gray

Frogkisser by Garth Nix

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Alanna: The First Adventure (Song Of The Lioness series) by Tamora Pierce

The YKNR Admin team would add:

The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Arkanae (The Medoran Chronicles series) by Lynette Noni

The Fall by Tristan Bancks

Liars (series) by Jack Heath

The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

Indigo Blue by Jessica Watson

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Riders Of Thunder Realm (Paladero series) by Steven Lochran

Ice Wolves (Elementals series) by Amie Kaufman

Books for kids 14+

Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth

Carve The Mark (series) by Veronica Roth

The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Across the Nightingale Floor (series) by Lian Hearn

Chaos Walking (series) by Patrick Ness

Road to Winter (Wilder series) by Mark Smith

The YKNR Admin Team would add:

I Am Out With Lanterns by Emily Gale

White Night by Ellie Marney

Living On Hope Street by Demet Divaroren

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology (Edited by Danielle Binks)

After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson

Words In Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Brontide by Sue McPherson

Growing Up Aboriginal In Australia (edited by Anita Heiss)

The Things That Will Not Stand by Michael Gerard Bauer

Warcross (series) by Marie Lu

Bro by Helen Chebatte

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandya Menon

The Bogan Mondrian by Steven Herrick

Just Breathe by Andrew Daddo

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

Don’t forget to check the original recommended reads list here as well. 

Are you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of two epic adventure series for kids 9+ – The Mapmaker Chronicles and The Ateban Cipher (click the titles to find out more about my books).


*NB: This site uses affiliate links. You’ll find more information here. Most of the books on the lists are also available at your local independent bookshop, on Amazon, or at your preferred online bookseller.

Be prepared for anything: the inside story on author talks

Be prepared for anything: the inside story on author talks

The inside story on author talksThe life of a children’s author is a funny one. On one hand, we sit alone in our offices, talking to no-one, revelling in isolated splendour. And then term three of the school year rolls around, and suddenly we emerge, blinking, into the light, and into the wonderful chaos that is author talks and Book Week (which now seems to extend for about three months).

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been talking. And talking. And talking. To thousands of kids. After a week of Book Week school sessions in Sydney, which looked (in part) like this…

allison tait speaker in schools | allisontait.com






I rolled into a week that included a school literary festival, which looked like this…

David Legge, Belinda Murrell, Louise Park and A. L. Tait | allisontait.com

With David Legge, Belinda Murrell and Louise Park.

A. L. Tait author talk Book Week 2018 | allisontait.com

Can you spot me?







And then straight into the amazing Word Play program at Brisbane Writers’ Festival, which looked like this…

A. L. Tait 'Find Your Writing Superpower' Brisbane Writers' Festival 2018 | allisontait.com

Full house for ‘Find Your Writing Superpower’ presentation.

Allison Rushby, Megan Daley, Allison Tait @ Brisbane Writers Festival 2018 | allisontait.com

With Allison Rushby and Megan Daley: The Your Kids’ Next Read Team at BWF

A. L. Tait Online Literature Festival Brisbane Writers' Festival | allisontait.com

My first webinar presentation as part of the Online Literature Festival at BWF

A. L. Tait Brisbane Writers' Festival | allisontait.com

The weirdness of seeing your face on a wall…

BWF Top 10 bestseller bookshelf | allisontait.com

The excitement of The Mapmaker Chronicles being in the Festival Top 10 (for a minute)…













In the process of all this, I lost my voice, caught up with author friends, met new author friends, and remembered the reason

why we all do this in the first place – because kids are enthusiastic and creative and incredibly entertaining and it is an absolute honour to write a book that a 10 year old will tell you is ‘the best book ever’.

I also answered questions. Lots and lots of questions. And I am here to tell you that if I had to give an aspiring children’s author any advice about author talks and presenting to kids it would be this:

Be prepared for anything.

When you get to the Q&A section of your author talk or presentation, and you are looking out at a sea of waving hands, all desperate to find out… something… brace yourself.

Questions you are likely to be asked include, but are not limited to:

How much do you get paid? (Be ready with a short, succinct answer to this)

Where do you get your ideas?

How long does it take you to write a book?

Did you draw the picture on the cover of your book?

What’s your favourite book?

Who was your favourite author as a child?

When did you know you were going to be an author?

When did you write your first book? (I’ve always wished I could answer ‘when I was six’ like some of my author friends, but this is not me…)

But then there are the other questions…

Over the course of three weeks, I was asked everything from ‘what colour is your toothbrush?’ to ‘does your dog ever get tired of walking?’ and ‘do you have any time to spend with your own children?’. Pulling out a favourite question wasn’t easy, but in the end, I think this one wins:

Tips for author talks | allisontait.com

To show just how ready you need to be, I asked some of Australia’s favourite children’s authors to give me their favourite question from their Book Week presentations this year…

‘Do you sleep with your books under your pillow in case of burglars?’ – R.E. Devine, Jack McCool series

‘Can I have your jacket? / How was your weekend? / Can you dab? / Do you play Fortnite?’ – Mick Elliot, The Turners series 

‘Does your mother ever steal your story ideas?’ – Allison Rushby, The Mulberry Tree

‘How do you have blonde hair?’ – Jacqueline Harvey, Kensy and Max series

‘When you were at school did you use a pen or a quill?’ – Catherine Pelosi, Quark’s Academy

‘Can you take your beanie off?’ – Matt Stanton, Funny Kid series

‘What do you want more than anything else?  – Zanni Louise, Errol

And now I’m heading back into my quiet study for a few weeks, before my next appearance at Burdekin Readers’ and Writers’ Festival in October.

It’s time to get some writing done.

Are you new here? Welcome! You can find out all about me here, and all about my books here. If you’re interested in talking to me about presenting at your school or event, go here. And if you’re keen to write your own book, you’ll find a heap of posts about writing here, as well as information about my courses, and you can listen to my podcast here.

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