Jackie French

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For the U.S. author, see Jackie French Koller.
Jackie French
Author Jackie French.jpg
Jackie French
Born Jacqueline Anne French
(1953-11-29) 29 November 1953 (age 61)
Sydney, Australia
Occupation Author
Nationality Australian
Genre Juvenile fiction, historical fiction, gardening books
Notable works Rain Stones, Somewhere Around the Corner, Hitler's Daughter, Diary of a Wombat, To the Moon and Back
Spouse Bryan Sullivan

Jacqueline Anne "Jackie" French (born 29 November 1953) is an award-winning Australian author who has written over 140 books and has won more than 60 national and international awards.[1][2]

She is considered one of Australia’s most popular and awarded children’s authors, writing across a number of children’s genres including picture books, history, fantasy and historical fiction.[3]

She is also an author of numerous books on ecology, gardening, pest control, wombats, other wildlife and hens as well as fiction for adults. She is also a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines around Australia including the Australian Women’s Weekly and the Canberra Times.[4][5] She also presented gardening segments on the long-running Australian TV series Burke's Backyard.[6]


Jackie began writing Rain Stones, her first book for children, when she was 30 years old, living in a shed and in need of money to register her car. Her editor said it was the messiest and worst-spelt manuscript ever submitted (partly because Jackie was dyslexic, but also because the letter e on her typewriter wasn’t working because of droppings left on her keyboard by a wombat), but the book ended up being shortlisted for the Australian Children’s Book Council of Australia award for the Younger Readers Book of the Year and the NSW Premier’s Award.[7][8]

Jackie’s books include both fictional, factional and non-fictional accounts of Australian history including Nanberry: Black Brother White, Tom Appleby, A Day to Remember, created with Mark Wilson, A Waltz for Matilda, the first in an eight-volume series, The Girl from Snowy River, The Road to Gundagai, The Night They Stormed Eureka and Flood and Fire, both created with Bruce Whatley.

Her non-fiction books include the eight-book Fair Dinkum History series that covers 60,000 years of Australian history and is published by Scholastic [9] and Let the Land Speak: A history of Australia - how the land created our nation.[10]

A number of her books are also part of the Australia Curriculum, including Nanberry: Black Brother White, Diary of a Wombat, Flood, A Day to Remember (with Nark Wilson), Baby Wombat’s Week (with Bruce Whatley), Pennies for Hitler, The Girl from Snowy River and the work she is possibly best known for, Diary of a Wombat, created with artist Bruce Whatley. .[11][12][13][14][15]

Her most recent works include To Love a Sunburnt Country and The Beach they called Gallipoli (with Bruce Whatley), Fire (with Bruce Whatley) and The Hairy Nosed Wombats Find a New Home (with Sue Degennaro) . Jackie’s royalties for that book are donated towards wombat preservation and research.[16][17][18][19]

Her book, Hitler’s Daughter, has been made into a stage play by Monkey Baa Theatre Company. It toured Australia in 2012 and in the USA in 2013. The play won the Robert Helpman Award in 2007, the Drover Award in 2007 and the 2006 Drover Special Panel Award.[20][21]

Monkey BAA also turned her book Pete the Sheep, created with Bruce Whatley, into a musical, which toured Australia in 2014.[22]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Jackie has won more than 60 awards in Australia and overseas and a number of her books have been shortlisted for numerous Australian and USA awards.[2][23]

In 2014, she was awarded the Queensland Literary Awards Griffith University children’s Book Award and the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Notable Award for Refuge, which was also shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s History Award in two categories – Children's and Community Relations.[24][25] Her book The Road to Gundagai, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s History Awards.[26]

Her novels Hitler’s Daughter and To the Moon and Back have been awarded the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Award in 2000 and 2005, and Pennies for Hitler won the 2013 New South Wales Premier’s Young People History Award.[2]

Hitler’s Daughter also won the UK Wow! Award, a Semi Grant Prix Japan Award and is listed as a blue ribbon book in the USA.[23]

One of her more popular books, Diary of a Wombat, illustrated by Bruce Whatley, has been translated into 23 languages and is the only picture book to win the Australian Book Industry Award. It was also on The New York Times bestseller list.[22] It has also won numerous awards including the 2002 Booksellers Choice Award,[27] Canberra's Own Outstanding List Award for Best Picture Book (2003),[28] 2003 KOALA Awards, Best Picture Book,[29] The Children Book Council of Australia Books I Love Best Yearly Award (2008),[30] the 2003 ABA/AA Nielsen Book of the Year Award, 2003 American Library Association, Notable Book title, 2003 USA Cuffie Awards, Favourite Picture Book of the Year and Funniest Book, 2003, 2004 USA Benjamin Franklin Award, 2004 USA Lemmee Award, 2004 USA KIND Award and the 2007 Kids Reading Oz Choice Favourite Book Award.[31]

Jackie is the 2014-15 Australian Children’s Laureate[32] and is the NSW Senior Australian of the Year 2015.[33]

She was also a finalist in the 2014 Nib Waverley Library Award for Literature Award.[34]

She was awarded the Senior Australian of the Year award in 2015.[35][36]


Jackie was born in Sydney and grew up in Brisbane. She moved to Araluen, near Braidwood, when she was in her early twenties, where she now lives with her husband Bryan. They have turned their property into a conservation refuge for the area’s rare and endangered species.[37]

She studied the behavior and ecology of wombats for 40 years and is the director of The Wombat Foundation, which raises funds for research into the preservation of wombats.[22]

She is also the ACT Children’s Week Ambassador, 2011 Federal Literacy Ambassador, patron of Books for Kids, YESS, Speld ACT, Speld Qld, DAGS (Dyslexia Association Galwer), and joint patron of Monkey Baa Theatre for Young People with Susanne Gervais and Morris Gleitzman.[38][39][40][41]

Jackie is dyslexic and wrote I spy a Great Reader to help teachers and parents teach dyslexic children to read using varied and new methods.[3]


  1. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, Jackie French, laureate for good fun reading, Dec 15, 2013, by Nick Galvin
  2. ^ a b c The Library University of Cenberra (Oct 2009). "A Guide to the Jackie French Papers" (PDF). Loe Rees Archives: 3. Retrieved Oct 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Radio New Zealand National. "Nine to Noon". 
  4. ^ The Fifth Estate, Jackie French on listening to the land and lessons from history, April 13, 2014, by Willow Aliento, http://www.thefifthestate.com.au/habitat/environment/interview-jackie-french-on-listening-to-the-land-and-lessons-from-history/61392
  5. ^ The Canberra Times, Dec 13, 2014, Jackie French: Best plants for the barbecue, http://www.canberratimes.com.au/it-pro/jackie-french-best-plants-for-the-barbecue-20141213-11zyim.html
  6. ^ ABC TV, Talking Heads with Peter Thompson, http://www.abc.net.au/tv/talkingheads/txt/s2691580.htm
  7. ^ The Australian Government, Australian of the Year Awards, National Finalist Senior Australian of the Year 2015, http://www.australianoftheyear.org.au/honour-roll/?view=fullView&recipientID=1265
  8. ^ Australian Writers’ Centre, Jackie French: Multi-award-winning author, http://www.writerscentre.com.au/community/podcasts/jackie-french-multi-award-winning-author/
  9. ^ Scholastic Australia, Scholastic Authors and Illustrators, Jackie French, http://www.scholastic.com.au/common/books/contributor_profile.asp?ContributorID=549&channel=
  10. ^ ABC, Let the land speak: how has the landscape shaped your family history?, Oct 11, 2013, by Natasha Mitchell, http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/natasha-mitchell/2914164
  11. ^ English for the Australian Curriculum, Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French, http://e4ac.edu.au/units/year-4/pop-s1-01.html
  12. ^ GPS Library Resource Centre, http://www.graftonpublicschool.com.au/Libweb/ncenglishstage1.html
  13. ^ Primary English Teaching Association Australia, Flood by Jackie French, http://www.petaa.edu.au/teaching-resources/literature-singles/flood
  14. ^ Australian School Library Association, Primary School Resources to support the Australian History Curriculum, http://www.asla.org.au/site/defaultsite/filesystem/documents/primaryhistoryresourcesapril2012.pdf
  15. ^ English Teachers' Association Conference, Text Choices for the Australian Curriculum, Nov 23, 2013, http://www.englishteacher.com.au/Portals/EnglishTeachers/PublicDocs/Conference%20papers/Innovation13/S2.8Sykes.pdf
  16. ^ The Beach They called Gallipoli: Jackie French and Bruce Whatley in conversation at the State Library of NSW, http://veterans.nsw.gov.au/centenary-activity/the-beach-they-called-gallipoli-jackie-french-and-bruce-whatley-in-conversation-at-the-state-library-of-nsw/
  17. ^ National Library of Australia, Catalogue, To love a sunburnt country, http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/6451829
  18. ^ NSW Government, 100 Years of Anzac
  19. ^ National Library of Australia, The hairy-nosed wombats find a new home Jackie French, http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/187661832?selectedversion=NBD52245999
  20. ^ Harper Collins, Teacher’s hub, Monkey Baa Theatre Company presents Hitler’s Daughter, based on the novel by Jackie French, Oct 16, 2012, http://teachershub.com.au/2012/10/16/monkey-baa-theatre-company-presents-hitlers-daughter-based-on-the-novel-by-jackie-french/
  21. ^ Monkey Baa Theatre Company, Hitler’s Daughter, http://monkeybaa.com.au/show/hitlers-daughters/
  22. ^ a b c The Age, Melbourne, A decade in wombat years, Nov 24, 2012, by Diana Plater http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/books/a-decade-in-wombat-years-20121123-29tjo.html#ixzz3IF6na7dP
  23. ^ a b Australian Children’s Laureate, Jackie French, http://www.childrenslaureate.org.au/laureates/jackie-french/
  24. ^ Queensland Literary awards, 2014 Queensland Literary Award Winners, http://qldliteraryawards.org.au/winners/2014-winners
  25. ^ The Children’s Book Council of Australia, Book of the Year Awards Notables 2014, http://cbca.org.au/Older-Readers-Notables-2014.htm
  26. ^ State Library, New South Wales, 2014 Winners and Shortlists , http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/about/awards/premiers_awards/nsw_premiers_history_awards/premiers_history_awards.html
  27. ^ The Children’s Book Council of Australia http://cbca.org.au/2009.htm
  28. ^ Canberra’s Own Outstanding List (COOL) Award Winners, http://www.goodreads.com/award/show/3793-canberra-s-own-outstanding-list-cool-awards
  29. ^ K.O.A.L.A. Kids Own Australian Literature Awards, Awards Night 2003, http://www.koalansw.org.au/awardsday/2012/6/21/awards-night-2003.html
  30. ^ Children’s Book Council of Australia, Previous winners of the BILBY Awards, http://qld.cbca.org.au/userfiles/file/Qld/2013/Previous%20BILBY.pdf
  31. ^ Story Mama, Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French ages 3-7, https://www.storymama.com.au/diary-of-a-wombat-jackie-french-book
  32. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, Nov 28, 2013, Jackie French: Australian Children's Laureate makes waves, by Ian Warden, http://www.smh.com.au/act-news/jackie-french-australian-childrens-laureate-makes-waves-20131127-2ya8j.html
  33. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald, NSW finalists for Australian of the Year announced, by Jacqueline Maley, http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/nsw-finalists-for-australian-of-the-year-announced-20141021-119bsd.html
  34. ^ News Local Sydney, Nib: Waverley Library Award for Literature winners short-listed, Oct 7, 2014, by Lisa Herbertson, Wentworth Courier
  35. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald, Author Jackie French named Senior Australian of the Year, Jan 25, 2015, by Georgina Mitchell
  36. ^ ABC radio, Jackie French named Senior Australian of the Year, Jan 26, 2015, by Michael Brissenden
  37. ^ The Advertiser, Adelaide, May 8, 2014, Children’s author Jackie French spreads the word on the worth of wombats, by Jordanna Schriever, http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/childrens-author-jackie-french-spreads-the-word-on-the-worth-of-wombats/story-fni6uo1m-1226911022751
  38. ^ ACT Children’s Week, The People Involved in ACT Children’s Week, http://www.actchildrensweek.com.au/who.htm
  39. ^ Independent Education Union of Australia, Time to register for National Literacy and Numeracy Week, Feb 7, 2013, http://www.ieu.org.au/index.php/component/k2/item/285-time-to-register-for-national-literacy-and-numeracy-week
  40. ^ University of Canberra, Festival of Children’s Literature 2013, Jackie French, http://www.canberra.edu.au/showcase/showcase-authors/jackie-french
  41. ^ ACT Counsil of Parents & Citizens Associations, New ACT Dyslexia support, http://www.actparents.org.au/index.php/help-for-p-cs/publications/item/132-new-act-dyslexia-support/132-new-act-dyslexia-support

External links[edit]