Ursula Dubosarsky

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photo by Gordon Flynn

Ursula Dubosarsky (born Ursula Coleman, Sydney, 1961) is an Australian writer of fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults, whose work is characterised by a child's vision and voice of both clarity and ambiguity.[1] She has won nine national literary prizes, including five New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, more than any other writer in the Awards' 30-year history.[2]

She is the author of illustrated books and novels, and also three works of non-fiction about the English language, grammar and etymology for children, featuring a comically enthusiastic character known as "The Word Spy".[3] These "Word Spy" books, illustrated by Tohby Riddle, have won the New South Wales Premier's Literary Award, the Children's Book Council of Australia Junior Judges' Award and Book of the Year Award.[4] In the United States and Canada "The Word Spy" is published under the title "The Word Snoop."[5]

Three of her books have been adapted for theatre - "The Red Shoe",[6] "The Terrible Plop"[7] and "Too Many Elephants In This House".[8]

In 2014, the annual Christmas Windows of the department store David Jones were based on her story "Reindeer's Christmas Surprise."[9][10]

She is the third child of Peter Coleman and Verna Susannah Coleman. Her name was suggested by the character of Ursula Brangwen in the 1915 novel The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence. She attended SCEGGS Darlinghurst and Sydney University and later Macquarie University. She is a Honorary Associate in the Department of English at Macquarie University.[11]



Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Nominee 2013, 2014, 2015[12]

Luchs (Lynx ) Award for Children's Literature July 2012 for The Golden Day (in German Nicht Jetz, niemals)[13]

International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY[14]) Honour Book List 2014 for The Golden Day

YALSA (Division of the American Library Association) Excellence in Non-fiction for Young Adults Nominee 2010 for Word Snoop[15]

White Ravens International Catalogue 2007 for The Red Shoe[16] and 1996 for The First Book of Samuel[17]


Theatrical productions[edit]

  • Too Many Elephants In This House was staged by the NIDA, the National Institute of Dramatic Art.[30]
  • The Red Shoe was staged by the Jigsaw Theatre.[31]
  • Plop!,[32] a musical version of The Terrible Plop was staged by the Windmill Theatre in Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra, Sydney, regional Victoria, Queensland and Darwin. Plop! had season in the United States in 2012, including three weeks at the New Victory Theater in New York.[33]


  • Reindeer's Christmas Surprise (2014) illustrated by Sue de Gennaro
  • Tim and Ed (2014) illustrated by Andrew Joyner
  • The Great War: stories inspired by objects from the First World War (2014) (contributor) Walker Books UK
  • Two Tales of Twins from Ancient Greece and Rome (2014) illustrated by David Allan
  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta:The Talkative Tombstone(2014) illustrated by Terry Denton
  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta:The Quivering Quavers (2014) illustrated by Terry Denton
  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta:The Dismal Daffodil (2014) illustrated by Terry Denton
  • Introduction to Lillypilly Hill (2013) Eleanor Spence Text Classics
  • Ava Adds (2013) illustrated by Annie White
  • Ethan Eats (2013) illustrated by Annie White
  • Rory Rides (2013) illustrated by Annie White
  • Violet Vanishes (2013) illustrated by Annie White
  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta:The Missing Mongoose (2013) illustrated by Terry Denton
  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta:The Looming Lamplight (2013) illustrated by Terry Denton
  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta:The Perplexing Pineapple (2013) illustrated by Terry Denton
  • Too Many Elephants in This House (2012) illustrated by Andrew Joyner
  • The Word Spy Activity Book (2012) illustrated by Tohby Riddle
  • The Carousel (2011) illustrated by Walter di Qual
  • The Golden Day (2011)
  • Free: stories about Human Rights (2010) (contributor) Amnesty International/Walker Books UK
  • The Honey and Bear Stories (2010) illustrated by Ron Brooks
  • The Return of the Word Spy (2010) illustrated by Tohby Riddle
  • The Cubby House (2009) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • The Terrible Plop (2009) illustrated by Andrew Joyner
  • Tibby's Leaf (2009) illustrated by Peter Bray
  • Jerry (2008) illustrated by Patricia Mullins
  • The Word Spy (2008) illustrated by Tohby Riddle Published in the United States as The Word Snoop (2009)
  • The Red Shoe (2006)
  • The Puppet Show (2006) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • Theodora's Gift (2005)
  • Rex (2005) illustrated by David Mackintosh
  • How To Be A Great Detective (2004)
  • Isador Brown's Strangest Adventures of All (2003) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • Special Days with Honey and Bear (2002) illustrated by Ron Brooks
  • The Magic Wand (2002) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • Abyssinia (2001)
  • Fairy Bread (2001) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • The Two Gorillas (2000) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • The Game of the Goose (2000) illustrated by John Winch
  • The Even Stranger Adventures of Isador Brown (2000) illustrated by Paty Marshall-Stace
  • Honey and Bear (1999) illustrated by Ron Brooks
  • My Father Is Not a Comedian! (1999)
  • The Strange Adventures of Isador Brown (1998) illustrated by Paty Marshall-Stace
  • Black Sails, White Sails (1997)
  • Bruno and Crumhorn (1996)
  • The First Book of Samuel (1995)
  • The White Guinea-Pig (1994)
  • The Last Week in December (1993)
  • Zizzy Zing (1991)
  • High Hopes (1990)
  • Maisie and the Pinny Gig (1989) illustrated by Roberta Landers


  1. ^ "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature" (2006) edited by Jack Zipes
  2. ^ "NSW Premier Nathan Rees announces 2009 NSW Literary Award Winners" News Release Premier of New South Wales, Australia, 18 May 2009 http://www.pla.nsw.gov.au/documents/_NSW_Prem_Lit_Winners_Announcement.pdf
  3. ^ http://www.penguin.com.au/products/9780670072279/word-spy Retrieved 30 July 2012
  4. ^ http://cbca.org.au/awardshistory.htm Retrieved 30 July 2012
  5. ^ http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780803734067,00.html Retrieved 30 July 2012
  6. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nswHnHeMExw
  7. ^ http://www.newvictory.org/show.m?showID=1034027 retrieved 2 July 2012
  8. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/ursula-dubosarsky-elephants-roam-from-page-to-stage-20140510-382bb.html
  9. ^ http://shop.davidjones.com.au/djs/en/davidjones/reindeers-christmas-surprise
  10. ^ http://mumbrella.com.au/david-jones-moves-retail-emotion-new-things-love-christmas-campaign-260713
  11. ^ http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/faculties_and_departments/faculty_of_arts/department_of_english/staff/
  12. ^ http://www.alma.se/en/ Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award
  13. ^ http://www.radiobremen.de/unternehmen/presse/radio/luchs514.html Luchs Award Radio Bremen
  14. ^ http://www.booksellerandpublisher.com.au/DetailPage.aspx?type=item&id=28636
  15. ^ http://www.ala.org/yalsa/booklistsawards/bookawards/nonfiction/2010nominations
  16. ^ http://www.childrenslibrary.org/servlet/WhiteRavens?searchText=dubosarsky White Ravens
  17. ^ http://www.childrenslibrary.org/servlet/WhiteRavens?searchText=dubosarsky White Ravens
  18. ^ http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/spa-news-a-events/book-of-the-year-awards
  19. ^ Children's Book Council of Australia http://cbca.org.au/winners2011.htm#ep
  20. ^ http://www.literaryawards.com.au/nswpremiers.html
  21. ^ http://www.koalansw.org.au/winners/
  22. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/news/books/2007-nsw-premiers-literary-awards/2007/05/29/1180205249745.html
  23. ^ http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=511&book=9781741142853
  24. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/news/books/nsw-premiers-literary-awards-2006-winners/2006/05/23/1148150258652.html
  25. ^ http://www.puffin.com.au/contributors/ursula-dubosarsky
  26. ^ http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2012/ursula_dubosarsky?people=2012-ursula-dubosarsky
  27. ^ http://shirewritersfestival.weebly.com/presenters.html
  28. ^ http://www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au/data/teaching_notes/10487.pdf
  29. ^ http://www.canberra.edu.au/lurees/searching/author-index/attachments/other_files/DubosarskyUR.html
  30. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/ursula-dubosarsky-elephants-roam-from-page-to-stage-20140510-382bb.html
  31. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nswHnHeMExw
  32. ^ http://www.windmill.org.au/show/plop retrieved 2 July 2012
  33. ^ http://www.newvictory.org/show.m?showID=1034027 retrieved 2 July 2012
  • "The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English" (2001) edited by Victor Watson
  • "The Oxford Companion to Australian Children's Literature" (1993) edited by Stella Lees and Pam Macintyre
  • "1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up" (2009) edited by Julia Eccleshore Cassell Illustrated, London.

External links[edit]