Can you pick the top five?

Recently I emailed some special children’s authors about their favourite 5 children’s books. No easy feat. Always difficult to choose. However, I received prompt replies and I share them with you. As well, I asked them to choose an international writer or illustrator they liked and why. Their carefully chosen lists have inspired me and I trust they will broaden your world too.

Lesley Gibbes, has a similar surname to mine and she write fast paced action stories for 8+. She also has an excellent course in writing chapter books for emerging authors.

Hi Margaret,

My top 5 favourite picture books are-

Bear and Chook by the Sea by Lisa Shanahan  -Brilliant use of sound and patterning

The Wrong Book by Nick Bland  -Love his humour

That’s Not a Daffodil by Elizabeth Honey   -Clever and insightful

Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay  -Love the rhythm and rhyme

Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker  -Thought provoking, beautiful

My favourite international author is Louis Sacher from America. My favourite book of his is Holes written in 1998. I loved reading this book to senior primary and recommending it to younger gifted readers. The story centres around Stanley Yelnats an unlucky teenage boy whose life is cursed. He’s sent to a juvenile corrections facility in a desert in Texas after being falsely accused of theft. His punishment is to dig holes all day everyday. I love the interconnecting stories and layering of past and present events. It’s quirky, unusual. funny and unexpected.

I don’t have a favourite international illustrator. My favourites are all Australian! My very first favourite as a child was Pixie O’Harris who wrote and illustrated The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly.  Actually I just looked her up and she’s born in Wales and migrated to Australia with her parents.




Living on the Blackall ranges not far from me, lives author/ illustrator Peter Carnavas, who loves Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake. Humour and nonsense make their mark in these books just like Pete does in his magic with pictures and words. It’s the ordinary things in life that can be transformed with this author’s skill and clever illustrations. As Peter says, I cannot think of ‘anything more lofty or rewarding than the goal of writing and making art for children.’

Hi Marg,

Great to hear from you.  Yes, the holidays are going well, but zooming by.

My five favourite children’s books?  That’s about the hardest question ever but I’ll give it a go.  If I wrote them down tomorrow, I’d probably have five different books.

Pookie Aleera is Not My Boyfriend, by Steven Herrick

Amy and Louis, by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood

The BFG/Matilda, by Roald Dahl (I’ve included them as a tie, as I can never decide my favourite)

Just a Dog, by Michael Gerard Bauer

Clown, by Quentin Blake

International author/illustrator?

I’d have to say Quentin Blake.  He’s been my hero since I was a kid.  I love how expressive and moving his illustrations are, even when they look so scratchy and quickly drawn.

All the best,




Illustrator Quentin Blake



The next writer, poet who I emailed is Janeen Brian. She grew up in the city of Brighton, South Australia, trained as a primary teacher, began a children’s theatre company and has also been involved in over 100 television and radio commercials. Presently, Janeen has written over 80 books, from picture book to poetry, short fiction, non fiction and novels. I have always enjoyed attending any workshops Janeen presents as she captivates the audience with beautiful language, alliteration, rhyme and simile.

Hi Marg,

Thanks so much for your email. And thank you, too, for your kind words. They are much appreciated.

Favourite 5 children’s books: (tough question!!!!)

Because of Winn-Dixie (Kate di Camillo)

Coraline (Neil Gaiman)

The True Story of Lilli Stubeck (James Aldridge)

The Simple Gift (Steven Herrick)

The Story about Ping (Marjorie Flack & Kurt Wiese)

International author/illustator: (tough question number 2!!)

I’d love to say Jacqueline Wilson – for getting into the heart and soul of kids and dealing with tough issues in a human, some times amusing and hopeful way AND Michael Morpurgo, who takes a real life incident and writes wonderful stories and writes as he says, ‘as if to a friend’,


I’ll go with Kate di Camillo;

Her body of work inspires me, because she writes with such depth of feeling in such an accessible way. Her words read as poetry, with not a word wasted or overused, and her narratives are original and always compelling page turners. I may not always remember the whole plot but I remember her characters and the feeling that is left with me after I close the book.

With thanks and kind regards,




American author Kate di Camillo


Back in Queensland is a talented author Aleesah Darlison who as a child growing up in the bush had loads of pets and wild animals. She loves writing stories about animals. After 25 years in Sydney, her family have moved to the Sunshine Coast where she loves the rainforest and wild kangaroos living nearby. Aleesah has published the Unicorn Riders series, picture books like Fox and Moonbeam, Little Meerkat and many more.

Hi Marg

Just getting back to you on these questions… it’s tricky as I love so many authors and it’s so hard to choose!

(Some of my) Top 5 favourite children’s books:

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Once by Morris Gleitzman

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Don Wood

The Wrong Book by Nick Bland

International writer who I admire:

Alexander Cordell – I’ve always, always loved his sweeping historical Welsh sagas, ever since I was a teenager, and the characters he creates. The copies of his books I own are precious to me. Of course, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Thomas Hardy are firm favourites too.

International illustrator who I admire:

Sarah Hinder – and English illustrator who I chose to work on my picture book, Spider Iggy. I fell in love with her gorgeous, colourful and sweet animal characters ages ago and I still love her work.



You might consider sharing a couple of your favourites. Stay tune for the next inspiring children’s writers and their favourites.

Like this Poem?

Leave a Comment

1 Comment

Aleesah Darlison
October 9, 2018 at 4:45 am

Great post and thanks for asking my Top 5s, Marg! xoxo Aleesah

M.J. Gibbs
Contact Marg

I care about your experience. Please fill in your details and I will contact you shortly.