Five Very Bookish Questions with author Oliver Phommavanh

Which genre of children’s books do you like most and why? 

I love humour because they’re wacky, weird and make kids laugh (which is very hard to do in books, hehe). Anything by Andy Griffiths is the perfect example, particularly the Just books. I based my first book Thai-riffic! on Andy’s formula of short stories about the same character.

Which books did you love to read as a young child?

I loved Paul Jennings’ Un books and Morris Gleitzman’s Blabber Mouth and Sticky Beak. Robin Klein’s Hating Alison Ashley is also a personal fave. I snapped up heaps of ‘choose your own adventure’ books too.

 Which three attributes make for a great children’s book? 

Humour, heart and grounded characters. My book Con-nerd has all three – haha. It’s about a boy who wants to be an artist but his mum wants him to be a doctor and study hard. While it’s a funny book, there are some interesting themes and issues being brought up in between jokes.

What is your number one tip for encouraging children to read?

Let the kids choose a book they want to read, even the ones that you make you squirm. Kids love the freedom of choice. There are books for every interest and/or hobby out there, so tap into your kids’ likes and lead them to books about that subject. For example, if your kid wants to learn how to be a stand up comedian, they should read my novel, Punchlines, which is about a boy who loves to make people laugh.

Name three books you wish you’d written.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

Spud by John Van De Ruit

About Oliver

Oliver Phommavanh loves to make people laugh, whether it’s on the page writing humour for kids or on stage as a stand-up comedian. He also shares his passion for writing with the kids he teaches at a primary school in Western Sydney. As a comedian, Oliver has appeared on stage, and on national TV and radio. He has also appeared in the anthology, Growing Up Asian in Australia. He’s a die-hard Nintendo fan and cheers for the Wests Tigers! His books are Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd and Punchlines. His new book Thai-no-mite! explodes onto bookshelves this October.




Published by

Tania McCartney

Tania McCartney is an author of children's books and adult non-fiction. Recent books include Riley and the Grumpy Wombat: A journey around Melbourne, and Australian Story: An Illustrated Timeline. She's also an editor, publisher and founder of Kids Book Review.