The best children’s book series you’ve never read

The best children’s book series you’ve never read

My dear friend Allison Rushby, the third Musketeer on Team Your Kid’s Next Read, has a new book out this week – her eighth (or is it ninth?) in the past 12 months.

Best book series for kids and YA readersThe third book in her Miss Penny Dreadful trilogy for lower middle-grade readers, it’s called The Mermaid’s Locks and concludes this engaging historical mystery series.

Sitting, as it does, right in the sweet spot for young readers who have outgrown heavily illustrated junior fiction but still need some pictures, accessible language, fewer words than a traditional middle-grade book, and a clever mystery to solve, the biggest puzzle for my podcast co-host Megan Daley and I about this series is why it isn’t… bigger.

It got me to thinking about underrated book series for children and YA readers.

Those series that are well-written, exciting and absolutely beloved by those who read them, but which, for whatever reason, don’t make the big splash that’s required to stand out on shelves crowded with celebrity books, ‘look at me’ titles and publisher favourites.

And I’ve decided to shine a spotlight on a few of them, but asking the Your Kid’s Next Read community to share their favourite underrated series – these are the books, in no particular order, that our members recommend over and over and press into the hands of young readers whenever they can.*

Here’s hoping some of them might resonate with your young readers!


Our favourite underrated children’s book series

By the Your Kid’s Next Read community

Includes comments where available. Click the series title to find out more at Booktopia**

Junior fiction (6-9)


underrated book series for kidsAussie Kids series (by assorted authors and illustrators)

“Each is a great intro to chapter books. different towns and lifestyles of Australian kids.”– Suzanne

The Secret Explorers series by S. J. King

“Both an interesting and entertaining read. I’ve been surprised that it is not more popular with 7-9 year olds.” – Kath

The Travelling Bookshop series by Katrina Nannestad (illustrated by Cheryl Orsini)

“It is recommended every now and then but it is such a wonderful series full of whimsy, vocabulary and imagination.” – Caitie


underrated book series for kidsHow to Make a Pet Monster series by Lili Wilkinson (illustrated by Dustin Spence)

Fish Kid series by Kylie Howarth

“Each book is a great read.” – Kath

Charlie series by Sam Copeland (illustrated by Sarah Horne)

Kid Normal series by Greg James (illustrated by Chris Smith) 8+

Heroes In Training series by Joan Holub, Suzanne Williams (illustrated by Craig Phillips)


underrated children's book seriesTime Hunters series by Chris Blake

Ghoulia series by Barbara Cantini

Science Comics series (various authors and illustrators)

I will never shut up about them!” – Sally

Amelia Fang series by Laura Ellen Anderson

Ottoline series by Chris Riddell


underrated children's book seriesFurball series by Adrian Beck

“Full of jokes and action-packed adventure.” – Louise

Daisy and The Trouble With … series by Kes Gray (illustrated by Garry Parsons and Nick Sharratt)

“We found them in the UK and they are just wonderful!” – Yvette

The Kingdom of Silk series by Glenda Millard (illustrated by Caroline Magerl)

“One of my favourite series of all time. The only series I finished and felt compelled to write to the author to tell her how much I adored them.” – Anna


underrated children's book seriesWhimsy and Woe series by Rebecca McRitchie (illustrated by Sonia Kretschmar) (8+)

“This was my daughter’s favourite series and she dressed as Whimsy for Book Week. Gothic. Delightful. Mysterious. I wish more people had faith in their children not to “need” the same thing over and over!” – Laura

Wayside School series by Louis Sachar

Wandi and (sequel) Kimmi by Favel Parrett

“Fictional stories based on real life dingoes.” – Andy


Middle-grade fiction (10+)


underrated children's book seriesBeetle Boy trilogy by M. G. Leonard

“These are absolute page-turners.” – Margot

The House at the Edge of Magic series by Amy Sparkes

At The Sign Of The Sugared Plum by Mary Hooper

“This one is judged by its really bad cover!! But it’s a brilliant read and so is the sequel.” – Ruth

Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston


Stella Montgomery Intrigues series by Judith Rossell

This series was nominated multiple times by multiple members as not receiving the attention it should.

The Forbidden Library series by Django Wexler

“This series is AMAZING and I recommend it in both printed and audiobook form. It’s SUCH an amazing series but I don’t think anyone I’ve met has already read it so I keep recommending it to everyone so I have someone to talk/rave about it with.” – Bec  

Cogheart series by Peter Bunzl

“A fabulous steam punk series – I devoured every one of them.” – Margot


underrated children's book seriesThe Keepers trilogy by Lian Tanner

“My 10-year-old daughter massively rates this trilogy.” – Amy

Elementals series by Amie Kaufman

George’s Secret Key To The Universe series by Lucy and Stephen Hawking (9+)

“They’re interspersed with pages of space and physics facts, which can be skipped to continue with the story. Great fun!” – Danielle


underrated children's book seriesThe Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series by Maryrose Wood (illustrated by Jon Klassen)

“It’s clever and witty and funny and a teeny bit creepy without being yuck. Perfect for ages 10 to adult.” – Kat

Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage

“I love it more than Harry Potter. It is better written, with similar themes and I think a more magical setting.” Rhonda

The Books Of Elsewhere series by Jacqueline West

The Children of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston (illustrated by Peter Boston)


underrated children's book seriesThe Sun Sword Trilogy by Belinda Murrell

“I have four children ranging from ages 12-26 and they all loved this series. It is plotty and adventurous. I had to buy new copies of the series recently, as the original books had fallen to pieces due to being read so much.”Amanda

Maven & Reeve Mysteries by A. L. Tait

The Figgy series by Tamsin Janu

“We absolutely adored this series with its unique protagonist and window into a different culture.” – Anna

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles series by Patricia C. Wrede

“My favourites as a kid. Funny, creative, great female characters who save themselves.” – Lauren


YA series


underrated children's book seriesAlanna series by Tamora Pierce

Tamora Pierce’s books (this series and others) were nominated multiple times by multiple members.

The Abhorsen trilogy (and prequels) by Garth Nix

“For teens, and he is the BEST fantasy writer the country has produced. He’s huge overseas but not here, and I don’t understand why. His world building is outstanding.” – Erin


Which children’s or YA series would you add? Let me know in the comments!


A. L. Tait The First Summer of Callie McGeeAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. My latest novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out now. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!


*edited to include only those titles still readily available

**Link to first book in series where possible. See contact page for affiliate link details

Bookish Gifts for Kids and Teens

Bookish Gifts for Kids and Teens

I love a bookish gift – something book-related, but not necessarily a book.

(Don’t get me wrong, I love the books too. Give me all the books.)

But I don’t think you can go wrong with a bookish gift for kids and teens. Something to add to that teetering pile of gaily wrapped books, or to encourage a lifelong connection with reading.

So, to save you time this festive season, the Your Kid’s Next Read team has trawled through our favourite websites to find bookish gifts for kids and teens. I would have loved to have received any of these as a young person… actually, I’d be pretty happy to receive most of them now.

Happy gift giving!


Bookish gifts for kids

Little Book Gift Pack 

Bookish gifts for kids and teensThese cute little gift packs for babies include a board book and a soft rattle, with five different book titles to choose from.

$49-59 (inc Australian postage), from The Book Basket Company.

Find out more.



Miniature Library Craft Kit

Bookish gifts for kids and teensThis Miniature Library craft kit for kids 8+ is a book-lover’s dream. It includes everything you need to cut-out, fold and glue a complete collection of tiny books, as well as a little bookshelf to press out and construct.

Full instructions are included, and even the box itself transforms into the perfect setting for your itty-bitty books. Or, you know, Barbie’s house.

$36.99, from Book Geek. (Use code YKNR for 10 per cent off any time, not valid in conjunction with other codes.)

Find out more.


YKNR Book Bag/Tote

Bookish gifts for kids and teensEndorsed by celebrity teacher-librarian Megan Daley, the Your Kid’s Next Read tote is the perfect library bag for primary school kids.

Plus, we donate 10 per cent of profits to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, so it’s the gift that give twice.

$14.95, from Tilly & Wilbur.

Find out more.


Decision Maker Coin for readers

Bookish gifts for kids and teensI can think of a few adults who could use one of these, but I can also see them being the perfect gift for kids – and their parents – when it comes to bedtime reading.

On one side the coin says ‘one more chapter’. On the other, ‘go to bed’. A fun stocking stuffer!

$23.99, from Book Geek.

Find out more.


Book Ends

Bookish gifts for kids and teensHave you ever wanted to climb inside a book?

These gorgeous metal book ends by Peleg Design will appeal to anyone who’s ever dreamt of walking into their favourite stories, and are perfect for a touch of whimsy in a child’s bedroom.

$49.95, from Quirksy.

Find out more.


Magic Journal

Bookish gifts for kids and teensI’m sorry, but a secret notebook, with lock, AND a magic invisible ink pen? In one handy package? Eight-year-old me is beside herself right now.

There are several different designs to choose from for kids 5+ – from fairytale, to animals, to adventure island – and I love that journals like these encourage writing from the heart.

$16.99-19.99 by Djeco Kids Stationery, from The Little Kidz Closet

Find out more.


Reading Blanket

Bookish gifts for kids and teensThe festive season in Australia is not generally connected with blankets, I know, but the weather is so changeable at present that a Reading Puppy Snuggle Blanket will never go astray.

Encourage kids to curl up with a book (there’s a kitten version as well).

$49.99, from Be More Bookish.

Find out more


Boffins Backyard Craft Kit

Bookish gifts for kids and teensCreated by bestselling Australian children’s author Andy Geppert, this little box of outdoor goodness contains a signed copy of ‘Backyard Buddies’, a flower press OR Moleskine notepad, a container of vegetable seeds for attracting ladybugs and some flower seeds to bring in the butterflies.

Plus, the fully recyclable packaging is covered in blueprints and instructions to transform the box into a pair of cardboard binoculars, some cubby house bunting, merit badges and a bow tie. Super cute, as well as encouraging outdoor adventures.

$55, from Andy Geppert.

Find out more.

Colouring Book

Bookish gifts for kids and teensAlison Lester is one of Australia’s most beloved illustrators, and her ‘Wonderful World’ colouring books allows children to put their own stamp on her work.

$19.99, from alisonlester.com

Find out more.


Ultimate Reading Challenge For Kids

Bookish gifts for kids and teensReaders will love everything about this portfolio, which offers challenges and bookish prizes to encourage, well, more reading. But it’s just as perfect for kids who have yet to discover the full joy that books can bring.

The pockets and packets inside the folder offer 15 reading challenges, from ‘read outside’ to ‘watch a movie based on a book’ and everything in between. Once the challenge is completed, young readers get to discover the prizes contained inside – and they’re decent prizes, from bookmarks, to stickers, to bookplates and more.

I bought the adult version of this challenge – for research purposes, you understand – and can confirm that, once again, 8-year-old me would have been in seventh heaven at the very idea.

$45.25, by Weldon Owen from Booktopia. 

Find out more.


Children’s Illustrator Art Prints

Did you know that many of Australia’s finest illustrators offer prints and original works of art for sale, framed and unframed? As far as stunning book-related gifts for kids go, artworks may be hard to beat.

Here’s a selection we’ve found – if the specific artwork we’ve linked to is no longer available, check out the artist’s shop link for other options.


Jess Racklyeft print

Bookish gifts for kids and teens‘Bear and Balloons’, Giclee Print, by Jess Racklyeft 


More at Jesses Mess (Etsy Shop). 



Sami Bayly print

Bookish gifts for kids and teensA3 Atlas Moth Print by Sami Bayly


More at Sami’s website.



Anna Pignataro original artwork

Bookish gifts for kids and teens‘Little Hedgehog Finds A Ladybug’ by Anna Pignataro

Illustrator Anna Pignataro sells a variety of original artworks through Wily Woods Studio on Instagram. It’s absolutely worth following if you love her beautiful work.

Find out more. 


Aura Parker print

Bookish gifts for kids and teensBowerbird Blues’, Giclee Print, Collector by Aura Parker


More at Aura’s website.



Bookish gifts for teens


Stationery Box

Bookish gifts for kids and teensI connected with Kim from Betty Mae Wrote in the very earliest of my blogging days and, frankly, her limited-edition stationery boxes and subscriptions make my mouth water.

This Birdie Stationery Box, for instance, is the perfect collection of the kinds of bits and pieces that paper lovers cannot resist – writing paper, envelopes, cards, a note book, a pencil, a cute wax stamp, pretty wax, tea and more! And gorgeously illustrated by Kim’s son Lew to boot.

But if this one is sold out, there is ALWAYS something else.

$45, from Betty Mae Wrote.

Find out more. 


Bookish Tee

Bookish gifts for kids and teensThere’s nothing a bookish teen likes more than smart words – and if you can have them on a t-shirt, all the better.

The collection from Be More Bookish offers some great options, but I chose this one because it pretty much sums up my life and the lives of most bookish teens I know. But there are more, so have a look!

$29.99, from Be More Bookish.

Find out more.


Book Light

Bookish gifts for kids and teensMegan and I are often asked about keeping teens reading, and the ‘reading before bed’ habit is an essential one to foster. But when your eyes are tired, a good book light is also essential.

This amber book light is often recommended by YNKR members. It emits zero blue light, meaning it won’t keep them up all night, is rechargeable and is good for at least 16 hours of brightness at three different levels.

$34.99, from Readings.

Amber book light (often recommended by YKNR members

Find out more.


Book Pins

Bookish gifts for kids and teensWe’re not sure what it is about teens and pins, but there’s a connection – and Jubly-Umph is generally regarded as having one of the best collection of bookish pins around.

Collect them all!

$16.95, from Jubly-Umph.

Find out more.



Bookish gifts for kids and teensYes, there are a lot of different bookmarks around, but we particularly liked these simple leather ones for teens. This one says ‘To Be Continued…’, and isn’t that a message we could all keep close to our hearts?

You might prefer ‘today a reader, tomorrow a leader’, ‘fell asleep here’, or ‘oh, the places you’ll go’.

$15, from House Of Sam

Find out more.


Bookish gifts for kids and teensMy sons joke that Christmas becomes a ‘socks and undies’ event once you hit your teens, and it’s true that stocking stuffers may have become a lot more practical after primary school. But that’s not to say they can’t be fun!

These Out of Print socks function as both practical footwear and a regular reminder to your teens!

$16.99, from Love Your Bookshop.

Find out more.


The Ultimate Reading Challenge

Bookish gifts for kids and teensSorry, I couldn’t resist. The adult version of this reading challenge is perfect for bookish teens. Lots of fun and it reminds them to read outside their comfort zone as well (which is essential for their writing).

There are 25 reading challenges and prizes in this version.

$49.99, from Booktopia (on sale for $29.25 at the time of writing)

Find out more.


Books: always perfect for kids and teens

I couldn’t create a list like this and not also remind you that books are always perfect gifts for kids and teens. Portable, easily wrapped, and portals to other worlds.

What Megan and I have anecdotally observed over the years, and discuss regularly on our podcast, is that children who are pegged as readers get books for every occasion.

But reluctant readers do not – and it’s reluctant readers who really need the encouragement of consistent and sustained effort to help put them in touch with the stories that unlock the magic of reading for them.

Keep trying. Think about the things they love to do and then try to find books that are adjacent to those interests. Remember, those books might be non-fiction, graphic novels, or audio books.

Need help? Join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community where there are 30,000+ members ready to offer suggestions, no matter if your child or teen is interested in slugs, calligraphy, typewriters, dictionaries, fairies, dragons or trucks (all real examples).

Here are some lists to get you started, but there are more here at yourkidsnextread.com.au.

15 Amazing Australian Novels for Readers 10+

100+ Books for Tweens Full of Mystery, History and Adventure

60 more tried-and-tested books for 13/14 year old boys

We hope this helps!


A. L. Tait The First Summer of Callie McGeeAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. My latest novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out now. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!

3 tips for writing narrative non-fiction books for kids

3 tips for writing narrative non-fiction books for kids

Narrative non-fiction for young readers is having a moment in the spotlight, combining facts, illustrations and storytelling in an irresistible short-form package.

But, as anyone who’s ever tried writing narrative non-fiction will tell you, getting the balance right between the information and the story is not always easy.

Bronwyn Saunders writing narrative non fictionWith her debut picture book Diprotodon: A Megafauna Journey out now, Bronwyn Saunders has popped in to share her experience with distilling a dinosaur-sized pile of research into a compelling story. The picture book is illustrated by Andrew Plant and published by CSIRO Publishing.

A children’s author and passionate citizen scientist who delights in sharing facts about Australia’s natural history with readers, Bronwyn has three top tips to help you if you’re thinking of following in her footsteps.


Bronwyn Saunders’ three tips for writing narrative non-fiction for kids

Diprotodon: a megafauna journey by Bronwyn SaundersNarrative non-fiction is weaving a story around factual information for the purpose of being informative and entertaining. The choice of producing non-fiction is a promise to the reader that the facts you are sharing are correct.

Writing non-fiction is addictive because the truth can be more outrageous and unbelievable than fiction. Diprotodon: A Megafauna Journey is a great example of outrageous facts.

Who knew Australia was once home to a marsupial that weighed up to 2,700 kilograms?

This is one of the facts about diprotodon that is thoroughly ridiculous and endearing at the same time.

I love astounding children with these unique facts, and there’s no doubt the facts compel you to share widely – but crafting a story with those facts is more than just stating (or listing) what you know.


Non-fiction ideas can creep up on you

My non-fiction topic found me whilst I was on holiday in Naracoorte, sparked by a statue, several facts from the tour guide and a tall tale.

The tall tale was exposed quickly, but by then I didn’t care that diprotodon wasn’t carnivorous, as the animal had already made a home in my heart.

I read everything I could find, which wasn’t much.

Then I dug a little deeper, reading scientific articles and research. Due to my research, I can verify that Latin is not such a dead language. The more I learnt, the more I had to know. I can proudly say I have read the majority of material ever written about diprotodon.


Managing your research

You don’t need archival qualifications to research a non-fiction topic but you do need an information management system.

No, you don’t need to buy it from Amazon or download an app onto your phone. It can be simple as recording and cataloguing source information, in a document, in a table or on a piece of paper.

Keeping the reference material in a single place is key. Collating all the references so they are retrievable when required is the aim. The style of reference that you use to keep the reference is not important, but consistency will help.

Remember, you are not composing a paper for university and do not need to use citations but your references do need to be accurate.

Correct referencing allows the writer to locate a source to double-check the source, interpretation or intended purpose with ease.

Correct referencing also makes it easier for the editor to review the evidence that is being relied upon so they can reassure the publisher of the accuracy of the text.


What details do you need?

The details depend on the type of source.

This could mean:

•a web address;

•author, title and page reference;

•or author, article title, journal name, volume and year of publication.

Try to capture every necessary detail that will enable you to easily find the source again, for example chapter names, article numbers, edition, volume and year of publication.

When I find a great source,I have been known to photocopy the page with all origin details, just to be certain, as well as allow verification that the source is what I want to rely on. It then goes into a hard copy folder between its own dividers, which are titled with how I intend to refer to it.

When I compile notes from the source, I use the basic reference data at the start of the notes and add it to the folder after the source material.

Diprotodon: A Megafauna Journey found a publisher five years after writing it. Experiencing the publishing process has helped me appreciate the need to give myself better clues of where within articles that I sourced information.

Your editor will appreciate your accuracy, too.


But what about the story?

Narrative non-fiction is not just listing facts. The facts must be used to tell a interesting story based on factual information.

The author has to take the black and white and fill the page with seamless colour.

Depending on the timeframe and the topic, knowing about the weather, the natural environment, buildings, technology, vocabulary, relevant culture and fashions are vital to capture the spirit of the story. In an historical movie or TV show there’s nothing worse than seeing an out-of-
place timepiece on the wrist of the lead actor, or for a car enthusiast seeing a classic car that was produced after the year when the production was set – and it’s the same for books.

For my story, it was important to listen to my palaeontologist advisor when he questioned my earlier use of insects to show Diprotodon toward
food. ‘Why would such a large animal pay any attention to what an insect is doing?’, he asked.

I had to be flexible with my manuscript and review what animal was available to use to guide Diprotodon to safety, which meant a return to research and drafting for the credibility of the story.


My top three tips for writing narrative non-fiction for children

1. Love your topic, you are going to immerse yourself in it.

2. Be methodical with your research, you may have to refer to it after many years have passed
or provide it to another person.

3. The facts need to be woven into a compelling story, the facts themselves are insufficient.

You can find out more about Bronwyn Saunders here, and watch the video below to find out more about Diprotodon: A Megafauna Journey – or visit CSIRO Publishing here to purchase.


Diprotodon Trailer from CSIRO Publishing on Vimeo.

A. L. Tait The First Summer of Callie McGeeAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. My latest novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out now. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!

On the road for CBCA Book Week – and event news!

On the road for CBCA Book Week – and event news!

CBCA Book Week might officially last just one week, but the reality is that author life gets very busy for many weeks around the official dates (19-25 August this year).

So today might be Official Day One, but for me Book Week kicked off last Monday with a series of ‘Writing Fantasy Stories’ workshops in Sydney, and then continued up the coast to Newcastle and Port Macquarie on an ‘author road trip’ with the wonderful Jacqueline Harvey.

We had such a great time, we’re already making plans to do it again next year in a different region!

A L Tait Jacqueline HarveyA L Tait author visitA L Tait author visitA L Tait author visitA L Tait author visitA L Tait author talks
















This week, I’m closer to home, sharing my new author talk ‘Write What You Know (And Create Something New)’, along with workshops about finding your writing superpower and the 10 keys to writing a great story with kids along the south coast.

It made my heart sing today when one student told me how much she loves my books, and another was beside herself to meet a ‘real, live author’.

Long live Book Week!

Reach out via my Speaking page if you’d like me to visit your school either for Book Week 2024, or any other time of year you’d like me to chat reading and writing with your students.

On the subject of speaking, in case you missed it, I’ve also got a couple of special events later this week.


So You Want To Be A Children’s Author?: Free workshop for adult writers 

Event blurb

You’d love to write stories for kids, but you’re not sure where to begin. Or perhaps you’ve made a start, but you’re wondering what to do next?

To celebrate the launch of her brand-new middle-grade novel The first summer of Callie McGee, Allison Tait – internationally published bestselling author, co-host of the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast, and teacher at the Australian Writer’s Centre – is sharing her insider secrets and practical tips on writing for children.

She’ll look at the top 10 questions you need to ask yourself in order to write a great book for kids – as well as answering any burning questions you might have.

24 August, 2pm-3.30pm, Nowra Library, 10 Berry Street, Nowra.

All details and bookings here.



Event blurb

Join local children’s author Allison Tait at Gerringong Library for a book launch celebration and talk about The First Summer of Callie McGee – a mystery about growing up, figuring things out and solving the puzzle of who you are, from the author of the bestselling middle-grade adventure series The Mapmaker Chronicles.

A fun event for middle-grade kids, families, lovers of children’s books, teachers, local friends and supporters of all ages – everyone welcome.

This is a free eventbookings essential. Books available for signing and purchase on the day.

The winners of the Beach Art Competition will be announced and prizes awarded at the launch.

All details and bookings here.


A. L. Tait The First Summer of Callie McGeeAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade fantasy adventure series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries, as well as my new contemporary middle-grade novel ‘The First Summer of Callie McGee’. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!

The inside story of ‘The First Summer Of Callie McGee’

The inside story of ‘The First Summer Of Callie McGee’

My new book, The First Summer of Callie McGee, is out now in bookshops everywhere – and I’m at home in that strange netherworld that is post-launch day.

Pre-publication day, the anticipation builds and builds, like those epic summer thunderstorms that press the very air down on you for hours before they finally burst into a light- and sound-show followed by furious drenching rain.

Unfortunately, publication day brings less of the light and sound and fury, and more the sound of boxes of books being opened in bookshops across the country and the slight rusting of pages as the books are placed upon the shelves.

The day after is just… business as usual. Except that I’m typing with my fingers crossed, hoping that readers will love Callie as much as I do.


The inside story of Callie McGee

In the headline, I’ve promised you the inside story on the book, but I think the best way to get that is to listen to me talk about it.

I’m the special guest on a veritable bonanza of podcasts this week, and each of them will bring you a slightly different perspective on this story and how it came about.


So You Want To Be A Writer

A. L. Tait talks about writing The First Summer of Callie McGeeFor a deep dive into the process of writing the book, from that first glimmer of inspiration to working through the complexity of creating the procedure of the mystery element, don’t miss my conversation with Valerie Khoo on So You Want To Be A Writer.

It was so nice to be back chatting to Val about all things writing and publishing. I spent seven years as co-host of this podcast, so sliding back into this space is like coming home.

But it’s a home where your Mum does not hold back on asking the hard questions, and I can always count on Val to keep asking ‘why?’ until I manage to articulate some part of my writing process that seems impossible to explain.

So we talk about the writing, we talk about wading into uncertainty and the memories of being 12, and we talk about re-drafting manuscript themes downwards. But we also talk about the very real challenges of establishing and maintaining a longterm author career.

You know you can count on us to be honest and get to the very crux of this stuff, so it’s worth a listen.

Find it here, or where you get your podcasts.


Words and Nerds

A L Tait talks about The First Summer of Callie McGeeThe thing I love about chatting with author and podcaster Dani Vee on the Words and Nerds podcast is knowing that the conversation will ramble its way into unexpected places and interesting revelations. And so it proved yet again.

We talked about The First Summer of Callie McGee, solving the puzzle of who we are and writing books outside our comfort zones.

But we also talk about publicity for authors from a journalist’s perspective, and how to find different ways to draw attention to your book – by thinking outside the box of your book, guest posting on blogs, making connections, getting your byline in the article, understanding the importance of booksellers and hand selling and the awesomeness of librarians.

If you’re a children’s author or would like to be one day, don’t miss this one!

Find it here, or where you get your podcasts.


KidLit Classics

If you haven’t discovered this podcast gem, you’re in for a treat! Hosted by author Samantha-Ellen Bound, KidLit Classics podcast invites contemporary children’s authors to discuss one book from their own childhood that made them a writer today.

I had the most wonderful time chatting to Samantha-Ellen about Callie’s Castle by Ruth Park. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while or listening to my various podcasts over the years, you’ll have heard this book come up before, but here we take a long, hard look at the beginning of my turret fixation.

To discuss the book, I had to read the book again and remain in awe of Park’s ability to create broad brushstrokes of a world, emotions and characters with a few fine details.

And yes, our characters share a name, but I swear this revealed itself to me only when Samantha-Ellen asked me to choose a book for this podcast episode. Until that moment, I hadn’t thought about Callie and her castle for years – but deep down in the part of the brain where fond memory lives, there she was.

I hope she’d like Callie McGee.

Find the episode here, or where you get your podcasts.


And an opportunity to ask your own questions

Writer’s Bookclub Podcast

The Writer's Bookclub A. L. TaitAuthor Michelle Barraclough’s Writers’ Bookclub Podcast has its own special twist on the author interview format – you get to ask the questions!

Michelle has chosen The First Summer of Callie McGee as her first middle-grade book to explore and dissect, and you can play along by reading the book and then posting any questions you might have for me about any aspect of writing the book to the group Facebook page before 15th August. (See How It Works here)

Michelle and I have a date later this month to interview an episode for the podcast where she asks me all your questions.

All the details on how to join in here.


A. L. Tait The First Summer of Callie McGeeAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries, and my latest novel ‘The First Summer of Callie McGee’. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

If you’re looking for book recommendations for young readers, join the Your Kid’s Next Read Facebook community, and tune in to the Your Kid’s Next Read podcast!


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