Today at Kids’ Book Capers, we’re talking about two great new Gigglers by Matt Porter.

Picture Perfect tells the story of Peter, whose plans to impress a girl with his perfect school photo go badly wrong. Accidental poses, hair products and glue are all ingredients for disaster and the day doesn’t turn out at all like Peter expected.

My Country is about a boy who secedes from the family and sets up a new country in his caravan – in fact, Oliver goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid showing his parents his ‘less than perfect’ school report.

Both Picture Perfect and My Country had me laughing out loud. The text was simple, but very funny with great dialogue and plenty of action.

Kat Chadwick’s colourful illustrations perfectly captured the visual disasters in Picture Perfect.

Travis Storti’s illustrations in My Country had great humour and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get the image out of my head of Dad with his head embalmed in toilet paper.

My Country and Picture Perfect are from the Gigglers Green series published by Blake Education. These are books of less than 1500 words with full colour illustrations and a glossary, designed for reading ages 7.5. Every book has guided reading discussion points and notes about the narrative.

About the Author

At primary school, Matt Porter loved writing and playing sport… at separate times of course.

It’s a bit hard to write a decent narrative while trying to defend the ‘King’s Square’ on the four-square court! Throughout secondary school I wrote (and read) less frequently, which helped my four square game but hurt my progression as a writer. Once I graduated from university I became a primary school teacher and I read the books of Paul Jennings, Morris Gleitzman, Andy Griffiths and many others to my students. The kids would laugh, squirm and hang off every word. These books, and many others, inspired me to resume writing. I wanted to have kids enthralled by my stories.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

It’s a huge thrill to know what I’ve written is being read by people. I love making people laugh and writing is a way I can do this (hopefully!)

Hard things about being a writer?

Sometimes I struggle to find time for writing… especially around school reports! I‘ll be writing a story about Joe Blow  and in the middle of a draft my brain will switch to report writing mode and type ‘Joe possesses a developing knowledge of fractions.’

After a day of telling students not to eat their glue-sticks or use their rulers as light-sabres, it can be hard to get my brain into gear.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a series set in a rural primary school. It’s aimed at middle and upper primary students. The first story in the series, Mr Sergeant and the Dodgeballs of Doom, won the CYA Chapter Book Writing Competition in 2009.

Matt’s tips for new writers

Write, write, write! When I started writing seriously in 2003, I massively under-estimated how hard it would be to get published. I thought you just wrote something down, sent it off then sat by the mailbox. After a week or two the postie delivered your book, neatly printed and illustrated, with an accompanying royalty cheque of five figures. Wrong! I only started getting somewhere (and I’ve still got a way to go) when I did courses, attended workshops, entered competitions and networked.

I’ll be forever grateful to children’s writer DC Green. I asked him to mentor me and he has been a huge help. However, I didn’t expect DC to give up his time to mentor someone he’d never met for nothing. I made sure I had something to offer him. After DC declined a series of four-square lessons on developing a forceful forehand and killer serve, he mentored me in return for me creating teacher activities for his books. DC has put these on his website for teachers to use. I’ve also made some resources for him to use in classroom visits. His help of offering advice, editing manuscripts, helping me identify and destroy weak words has been invaluable.

I’ve also made teacher activities for Janeen Brian, Meredith Costain, Paul Collins and a few others. All of these people have helped me out by offering advice, reading drafts and other help that I’m extremely thankful for.

When my writing progresses further and (fingers crossed) I have a few trade titles published, I’ll make sure I ‘pay it back’ and mentor other writers.

Published by

Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.


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