Chain stores are influencing the content of children's books: Katoomba author Tohby Riddle

Chain stores like Big W, could be responsible for the flood of children's books on bottoms and farts, says Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year award finalist Tohby Riddle.

"This might be the result of chains like Big W becoming the default bookseller in many suburbs and towns. They seem to favour these kinds of books and a lot of authors and publishers are probably responding to this," the Katoomba author said.

"The problem is that these books are often written as if the adult author is attempting kid-to-kid storytelling when they're not actually a kid. And, so, the opportunity is being missed for the kind of sincere, empathetic and meaningful adult-to-child storytelling and humour that has created children's literature for the ages."

He was responding to comments from Sydney's Shore School headmaster Timothy Wright in the Sydney Morning Herald on August 19, where he questioned the quality of some young adult and children's books.

"There seems to be a flood of books about bottoms, farts and all the rest of it. I'm not sure that once you have read one or two of those, there's a whole lot more to explore," he told the SMH.

Fellow Blue Mountains author, Jennifer Rowe, said this type of humour was "a bit too fashionable", but was likely to die down once the market was saturated.

"A lot of otherwise reluctant young readers find it hilarious, as did the readers of Chaucer in the Middle Ages. Rather than criticising these young readers' choices, it might be better to be glad that they're reading something they enjoy, and so will improve their reading skills and be able to move on to other things when they get older," she said.

Ms Rowe, best known for her children's books penned under her grandmother's name of Emily Rodda, was the winner of the Book of the Year for younger readers (7-12 years) for His Name Was Walter at the CBCA Book of the Year awards announced in Melbourne on August 16.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to get the award," Ms Rowe said.

It was her sixth Children's Book of the Year award.

The Leura author said she loved writing the book and has had countless children, as well as adults, tell her they couldn't put His Name Was Walter down.

"It's the best possible thing for an author to hear," she said.

"Walter mingles fantasy and real life in a way that people seem to really like. It combines fantasy, magical reality and mystery.

"I had a magical experience [writing His Name Was Walter]. I'm very pleased that the judges agreed."

Riddle received an honour in the early childhood (0-6 years) category for Here Comes Stinkbug!.

The hilarious story is about a smelly bug whose unique talent saves the day.

"It's a happy surprise to see Here Comes Stinkbug! get an award. It was a simple, humorous book that was a lot of fun to make. And I grew really fond of the insect characters," Riddle said.

The 2019 Book of the Year awards saw a record 488 entries, of which more than 100 were from first-time creators.

"Humour appeared in a number of books, the best of it skirting the ubiquitous toilet humour and deploying whimsy, wit and quirky illustrations to amuse the reader," said CBCA national chair Professor Margot Hillel.

"The very best books in all categories will engage, entertain and inspire readers, inviting them to re-visit the story again after the first time."


Discuss "Chain stores are influencing the content of children's books: Katoomba author Tohby Riddle"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.