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 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]

Her novel "The Red Shoe" is included in 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up and is one of 200 significant works of Australian literature in the Copyright Agency's Reading Australia program.[6]

Three of her books have been adapted for theatre - "The Red Shoe",[7] "The Terrible Plop"[8] and "Too Many Elephants In This House".[9]

In 2014, the annual Christmas Windows of the department store David Jones were based on her story "Reindeer's Christmas Surprise."[10][11] In 2018 the National Library of Australia published "Midnight At the Library", illustrated by Ron Brooks, to help celebrate the Library's 50-year anniversary.[12]

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 an Honorary Associate in the Department of English at Macquarie University[13] and has taught courses in children's literature at Sydney University and the University of Technology, Sydney.[14]



Hans Christian Andersen Award Nominee 2015[15]

Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award Nominee 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 [16][17]

Luchs (Lynx ) Award for Children's Literature July 2012 for The Golden Day (in German Nicht Jetz, niemals)[18]

International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY[19]) 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[20]

White Ravens International Catalogue 2007 for The Red Shoe[21] and 1996 for The First Book of Samuel[22]


Theatrical productions[edit]

  • Too Many Elephants In This House was staged by the NIDA, the National Institute of Dramatic Art.[35]
  • The Red Shoe was staged by the Jigsaw Theatre.[36]
  • Plop!,[37] 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.[38]


  • Maisie and the pinny gig (1989) illustrated by Roberta Landers
  • High Hopes (1990)
  • Zizzy Zing (1991)
  • The Golden Day (2011)
  • The Last Week in December (1993)
  • The White Guinea-Pig (1994)
  • The First Book of Samuel (1995)
  • Bruno and Crumhorn (1996)
  • Black Sails, White Sails (1997)
  • The Strange Adventures of Isador Brown (1998) illustrated by Paty Marshall-Stace
  • My Father Is Not a Comedian! (1999)
  • Honey and Bear (1999) illustrated by Ron Brooks
  • The Even Stranger Adventures of Isador Brown (2000) illustrated by Paty Marshall-Stace
  • The Game of the Goose (2000) illustrated by John Winch
  • The Two Gorillas (2000) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • Fairy Bread (2001) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • Abyssinia (2001)
  • The Magic Wand (2002) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • Special Days with Honey and Bear (2002) illustrated by Ron Brooks
  • Isador Brown's Strangest Adventures of All (2003) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • How To Be A Great Detective (2004)
  • Rex (2005) illustrated by David Mackintosh
  • Theodora's Gift (2005)
  • The Puppet Show (2006) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • The Red Shoe (2006)
  • The Word Spy (2008) illustrated by Tohby Riddle Published in the United States as The Word Snoop (2009)
  • Jerry (2008) illustrated by Patricia Mullins
  • Tibby's Leaf (2009) illustrated by Peter Bray
  • The Terrible Plop (2009) illustrated by Andrew Joyner
  • The Cubby House (2009) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • The Deep End (2010) illustrated by Mitch Vane
  • The Return of the Word Spy (2010) illustrated by Tohby Riddle
  • The Honey and Bear Stories (2010) illustrated by Ron Brooks
  • Free: stories about Human Rights (2010) (contributor) Amnesty International/Walker Books UK
  • The Golden Day (2011)
  • The Carousel (2011) illustrated by Walter di Qual
  • The Word Spy Activity Book (2012) illustrated by Tohby Riddle
  • Too Many Elephants in This House (2012) illustrated by Andrew Joyner
  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta:The Perplexing Pineapple (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 Missing Mongoose (2013) illustrated by Terry Denton
  • Violet Vanishes (2013) illustrated by Annie White
  • Rory Rides (2013) illustrated by Annie White
  • Ethan Eats (2013) illustrated by Annie White
  • Ava Adds (2013) illustrated by Annie White
  • Introduction to Lillypilly Hill (2013) Eleanor Spence Text Classics
  • The Cryptic Casebook of Coco Carlomagno and Alberta:The Dismal Daffodil (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 Talkative Tombstone(2014) illustrated by Terry Denton
  • Two Tales of Twins from Ancient Greece and Rome (2014) illustrated by David Allan
  • The Great War: stories inspired by objects from the First World War (2014) (contributor) Walker Books UK
  • Tim and Ed (2014)[39] illustrated by Andrew Joyner
  • Reindeer's Christmas Surprise (2014) illustrated by Sue de Gennaro
  • One Little Goat (2017) illustrated by Andrew Joyner
  • The Blue Cat (2017)
  • Brindabella (2018) illustrated by Andrew Joyner
  • Leaf Stone Beetle (2018) illustrated by Gaye Chapman
  • Midnight at the Library (2018) illustrated by Ron Brooks

Critical studies, reviews and biography[edit]

  • Bond, Gwenda (Dec 2013). "Locus Looks at Books : Divers Hands". Locus (635): 22–23. Review of The golden day.


  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 Archived 20 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 30 July 2012
  5. ^ http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780803734067,00.html Retrieved 30 July 2012
  6. ^ http://readingaustralia.com.au/books/362/
  7. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nswHnHeMExw
  8. ^ http://www.newvictory.org/show.m?showID=1034027 Archived 11 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine. retrieved 2 July 2012
  9. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/ursula-dubosarsky-elephants-roam-from-page-to-stage-20140510-382bb.html
  10. ^ http://shop.davidjones.com.au/djs/en/davidjones/reindeers-christmas-surprise
  11. ^ http://mumbrella.com.au/david-jones-moves-retail-emotion-new-things-love-christmas-campaign-260713
  12. ^ https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/229892488?selectedversion=NBD61532864
  13. ^ http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/faculties_and_departments/faculty_of_arts/department_of_english/staff/
  14. ^ http://sydney.edu.au/arts/english/postgrad/programs_creative_writing.shtml
  15. ^ http://www.ibby.org/1492.0.html?&L=2%2F
  16. ^ http://www.alma.se/en/Nominations/Candidates/2015/
  17. ^ http://www.alma.se/en/Nominations/Candidates/2019/
  18. ^ http://www.radiobremen.de/unternehmen/presse/radio/luchs514.html Luchs Award Radio Bremen
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  20. ^ http://www.ala.org/yalsa/booklistsawards/bookawards/nonfiction/2010nominations
  21. ^ http://www.childrenslibrary.org/servlet/WhiteRavens?searchText=dubosarsky White Ravens
  22. ^ http://www.childrenslibrary.org/servlet/WhiteRavens?searchText=dubosarsky White Ravens
  23. ^ http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/spa-news-a-events/book-of-the-year-awards
  24. ^ Children's Book Council of Australia http://cbca.org.au/winners2011.htm#ep Archived 21 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. ^ http://www.literaryawards.com.au/nswpremiers.html
  26. ^ http://www.koalansw.org.au/winners/
  27. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/news/books/2007-nsw-premiers-literary-awards/2007/05/29/1180205249745.html
  28. ^ http://www.allenandunwin.com/default.aspx?page=511&book=9781741142853
  29. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/news/books/nsw-premiers-literary-awards-2006-winners/2006/05/23/1148150258652.html
  30. ^ http://www.puffin.com.au/contributors/ursula-dubosarsky
  31. ^ http://www.adelaidefestival.com.au/2012/ursula_dubosarsky?people=2012-ursula-dubosarsky
  32. ^ http://shirewritersfestival.weebly.com/presenters.html
  33. ^ http://www.goodreadingmagazine.com.au/data/teaching_notes/10487.pdf
  34. ^ http://www.canberra.edu.au/lurees/searching/author-index/attachments/other_files/DubosarskyUR.html
  35. ^ http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/ursula-dubosarsky-elephants-roam-from-page-to-stage-20140510-382bb.html
  36. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nswHnHeMExw
  37. ^ http://www.windmill.org.au/show/plop retrieved 2 July 2012
  38. ^ http://www.newvictory.org/show.m?showID=1034027 Archived 11 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine. retrieved 2 July 2012
  39. ^ "Tim and Ed". Catalogue. National Library of Australia. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  • "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]