Guess who came to dinner: James Patterson in Australia

Rafe's Aussie AdventureThere is a media and reader buzz about James Patterson, the world’s biggest selling author, who is in Australia at the moment.

It was announced on Tuesday that Patterson is giving grants of $500 to $5000 to independent bookshops in Australia and New Zealand, to a total of $100,000. This is an extremely generous gift from this philanthropic author and is part of Patterson’s mission to stimulate children’s reading. The bookshops that receive the grants must have a designated children’s section. There is a simple application form to complete by 5pm Tuesday, 30th June at .

Patterson said, ‘Bookshops guard against a future in which far too many children are illiterate. So many bookstores are already making a difference in their communities and I’m looking to help bookstores who want to do more… This initiative shines a light on literacy. It prompts us to ask: what do we want our future to be and how do we get there?’

Indie bookshops in the US and UK who have received grants  have created a Hogwart’s Hut, a scary children’s book club, a story-telling tent and have carpeted the children’s section of a store in a different colour. Patterson is keen to get the word out about his Australian and NZ grants. He genuinely wants to make a difference to children and teens’ reading.


I was very fortunate to have lunch with James Patterson in Melbourne yesterday. On my way there I passed bookshops overflowing with his titles. James is on a mission to get and keep kids reading. He believes that reading is the key to literacy and that kids who get to secondary school with low literacy will have trouble surviving. James was also at a cocktail party in Sydney on Tuesday night and the stunning harbour views from the roof of the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House were straight out of his just released children’s book Middle School: Rafe’s Aussie Adventure, co-authored by Martin Chatterton.

This Middle School series is packed full of fast paced adventure, humour and illustrations. Each story also has an element of depth through characterisation and issues such as bullying.

Maximum RideMy favourite of his series is Maximum Ride, which begins with The Angel Experiment. The young characters have wings and are advocates of good over evil. When I asked James if he wanted to fly when he was a boy and if he had tried it, his eyes glinted and he told me the story of trying to fly off the second-storey of his barn. He was obviously unsuccessful because he doesn’t remember anything about what happened so it seems he may have had a rather hard landing (or was just too young to remember). His mother had to tell him about it later.

Some of his other series are Middle School: Treasure HuntersI Funny and House of Robots.

James Patterson will be speaking tomorrow night, Friday 8th May, at 8pm as part of the SWF at Sydney Town Hall

Sincere thanks to Random House Australia for giving me the opportunity to meet James. It was a lunch I will always remember.

House of Robots


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Joy Lawn

Joy Lawn writes the YA literature column for the Weekend Australian and interviews authors for Magpies magazine. She judges the Prime Minister’s Literary awards and has chaired the children’s literature panels for both the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and Queensland Literary Awards and judged the CBCA and IBBY Honour (Australia) Awards. She specialises in children’s, YA and literary fiction. Joy promotes Australian literature here and overseas.