Today, award-winning author, Sally Murphy is visiting Kids’ Book Capers to talk about the inspiration behind her latest book, Do Not Forget Australia.

Ideas for stories can come from anywhere. In the past I’ve been inspired by a humorous word combination (Head Hog), a poem out of the blue (Pearl Verses the World) and a fable (The Floatingest Frog). But the seed for Do Not Forget Australia came from a photo.

My then thirteen year old son, Tom, had just been chosen to travel on the WA Premier’s ANZAC Student Tour. At a parent briefing we were shown slides of a previous tour, including a photo of a previous tour group standing in front of a big sign that said Do Not Forget Australia.

The sign, we were told, was at a school in Villers-Bretonneux in France, the main destination for the tour group.  I had seen photos of this sign before, knew a bit about Villers-Bretonneux , but it was only now that I was struck by the fact that this sign, written in English, was hanging in a school in France.  What was the full story behind it, I wondered.

Back at home I started researching, and learnt of the village which Australian soldiers had fought to save, of the men who were buried there, and of the relationship born between the two countries from that day. And I wondered if the people of modern Australia were as familiar with the story as the people of Villers-Bretonneux   were. It was time, I decided, to tell the story to Australian children.

It took quite some time to find a way to share the story in a way that was accessible to children. At first I simply read and researched. I talked about the story with my husband (an unusual thing for me to do in the early stages of a story), and I thought and thought. Then, On ANZAC Day 2008, as I watched the service being broadcast from Villers-Bretonneux   on television (catching a glimpse of my son laying an official wreath), I finally found the way to start the story and sat and wrote the first draft.

That draft was only the first of many.  It was nearly two years before I had a version which was accepted for publication by Walker Books, and another two years before it was ready for publication. Now it’s out – ready to take on the world. I hope that it will be read by Australians young and old, and that they too are taken by the story of friendship between two countries, which is acted out with a focus on two boys (one in each country).  It’s an important story, and I just hope I’ve done it justice.


Do Not Forget Australia is a beautifully told story of two young boys living a world apart, one in Australia and one in France. The stories are linked by the two boy’s experiences of the same war. Both have fathers away fighting, both know what is to be growing up with absent dads.

This story is based on the world’s first tank battle that took place in Villers-Bretonneux on 24th April 1918. The Germans held the village but later than night, Australian soldiers won it back. Twelve hundred Australians died in the battle and the town has not forgotten Australia, naming its main street Rue de Melbourne.

This moving story is about Henri and Billy, two boys who never meet. Great writing and beautiful illustrations draw the reader into the boys’ worlds and bring them and their stories to life.

Instead of a building and children and trees, his school was little more than a pile of rubble. It was as if a giant had squeezed the schoolhouse in its hand and scattered the splintered remains.

Illustrator, Sonia Kretschmar captures the mood and the situation with sensitivity and realism in her compelling pictures.

Clearly, both author and illustrator have meticulously researched for Do Not Forget Australia, and it’s not just an account of history, it’s a beautiful story with messages of courage, generosity and hope.

Do Not Forget Australia is a powerful book with positive themes and introduces young readers to a part of their country’s history in an engaging way.

Sally Murphy is visiting Kids’ Book Capers as part of a blog tour to celebrate the release of Do Not Forget Australia


1st March 2012 Let’s Have Words

2nd March 2012 Kids Book Capers

3rd March 2012 Running With Pens

4th march 2012 Read and Write with Dale

5th March 2012 Karen Tyrrell

6th March 2012 Writing for Children

7th March 2012 Spinning Pearls

8th March 2012 Katwhiskers

12th March 2012 Pass It On

12th March 2012 Kids Book Review

13th March 2012 Under the Apple Tree

14th March 2012 Lorraine Marwood. Words into Writing




Author Sally Murphy grew up writing stories and planning that she would one day be a published children’s book author.  She says that when she grew up she found it a little harder than she imagined to get published.

But I didn’t give up on that dream. I kept writing and submitting and learning the craft and, with persistence, I finally managed to get my first books published.

Sally is the author of thirty books ranging from educational resources, to fiction and nonfiction reading books, picture books and verse novels. The thing she enjoys most about writing is knowing that children are actually reading and enjoying her stories.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than having a young reader telling me they like one of my books. Seeing my name on a front cover comes a pretty close second. It is pretty awesome seeing something I wrote produced as a real book.

On the downside, Sally says, you can sweat for months or years on a story and then not get to see it published.

Sometimes that is really tough. But I have learnt that no piece of writing is wasted, because with every new story I write I get better and better – and some of my early stories which were rejected I look back now and realize they simply weren’t good enough.

Sally says that when she realized she was going to need a day job she became a high school English teacher. She figured that a job which involved books and kids would  be a good start until she became an established author.

I did like being a teacher, but I am not currently teaching, although I still need a part time day job to supplement my writing income. These days I  work in local government, running a community resource centre.

According to Sally, her greatest writing achievement has been managing to get published. She says the fact that a publisher takes a risk investing time and money producing one of your books is a huge achievement for any writer.

Another awesome thing has been the awards and shortlistings which my verse novel, Pearl Verses the World, has achieved. Most recently, that book has been shortlisted for the CBCA Children’s Book of the Year Awards, which is a dream come true for me.


I think each of my books is very different, though I guess many of them show a child character trying to figure out their place in the world, in the midst of whatever problem is confronting them.


Number one tip is to spend as much time reading as you do writing. If you are not reading new release children’s books all the time then you you have little chance of success. You need to both know the market and also watch and absorb what does and doesn’t work in other people’s writing. If you don’t have time to read then you don’t have time to be a writer.

Secondly, develop patience and resilience. Getting your work to publishable standard takes time and perseverance. And getting it accepted is hard. be prepared for rejection, and don’t give up if it takes years to get published. If you are serious about being published, don’t take rejection personally. Your first book may never be published. But by the time you have exhausted all avenues with that manuscript you should have been busily producing the next one, and the one after that.


I have had a little hiatus the past few weeks because I’ve been travelling and got a little overwhelmed with commitments. But I am just about to get back into editing another verse novel which I think is getting close to finished. I am also researching a picture book, and have some rewrites to do on a longer novel.

When Sally is not writing or working her day job, she is busy looking after her six kids (aged 9 to 23), reviewing books (she runs website, blogging or updating her facebook and Twitter accounts.

Learn more about Sally and her work at

We’ll be featuring Pemberthy Bear and Toppling this Friday on Friday Book Feature

Welcome to Kids’ Book Capers

I’m so excited to be one of the new bloggers for Boomerang Books. My new blog, Kids’ Book Capers is going to be full of fun things to do with books, and the people who write and illustrate them.

Today is a special day for Australian Children’s Books with the announcement of the CBCA Shortlistings and Notable books for 2010

Congratulations to all the authors, illustrators and publishers whose books have been recognised in this year’s awards.

So many great books by so many wonderful authors and illustrators. And many of these talented people will be visiting Kids’ Book Capers to talk about how they write and draw, and create the characters and stories we love.

Pearl Verses the World by Sally Murphy is just one of this years worthy CBCA winners.

Pearl needs poetry to help her get through the hard things that are happening in her life – the illness of her granny, being accused of stealing someone’s boyfriend, and clashing with her teacher over poetry that doesn’t rhyme.

When you read Pearl Verses the World, you feel as if Pearl sat on author Sally Murphy’s knee and spoke to her – asking for her story to be told.

Sally says,

I had wanted to write a verse novel for some time – it was on my list of vague ‘to-dos’.  I loved the form and thought that one day I would sit down, really study the form in detail, look for books or articles on writing the verse novel and then eventually sit down and have a go at one myself. In reality, this isn’t what happened. Instead, the story came to me in verse from, and so that is how I wrote it. When the verses first started coming, I didn’t realise I was going to sit down and write a verse novel.

Over coming posts, we’ll be talking to other authors and finding out  about books to make you giggle, books to scare your pants off, and books that have just been released.

If you want to find out why some kid’s authors have never grown up, stay tuned to Kid’s Book Capers every Monday and Wednesday, and sometimes on Fridays.