Leigh Hobbs is the new Australian Children's Laureate

Leigh Hobbs, best-selling author of more than 20 books, including the iconic Old Tom, Mr Chicken Goes to Paris and Horrible Harriet has today been announced as the Australian Children's Laureate for 2016 – 2017.

His subversive humour has delighted children for more than two decades. He succeeds the writer Jackie French, who concluded her role as Laureate at the end of 2015.


The Australian Children’s Laureate is an initiative developed by the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance (ACLA), a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2008. The Laureate's role is to promote the importance of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians.


Join us on Facebook and Twitter and welcome Leigh Hobbs to the laureateship. #ChildrensLaureate


The theme for Hobbs’s two-year term as Australian Children’s Laureate will be ‘to champion creative opportunities for children, and to highlight the essential role libraries play in nurturing our creative lives’.

'Libraries have played an enormous role in my life', Hobbs says. 'Reading and exploring history and art is something I have been able to do because of libraries. I’m passionately interested in histories and cultures and I hope that through my work I can encourage children to explore and experience these things too.'

Laureate Speech bubble for announcement

Leigh’s first public appearance as Laureate will be this Saturday 13th February at State Library Victoria's Kids' Big Book Spectacular, which includes workshops, a pop-up exhibition and storytelling in celebration of his contribution to children’s literature.

Mark Thursday 25th February in your diary too, as Leigh will be partaking in a special Meet The Laureate event with ABC Splash and the Centre for Youth Literature, which will be streamed over the internet at 2pm (EST). Leigh will be interviewed live and will take questions from the online audience too!

Old Tom man of mystery-small

About Leigh Hobbs

Leigh Hobbs was born in Melbourne, grew up in Bairnsdale and has lived and worked in Sydney, Sale and London. He is an artist who works across a wide range of mediums, as well as writing and illustrating his children's books.

Many of his cartoons have appeared in the Melbourne Age newspaper. He is best known, though, for his children's books featuring his characters Old Tom, Horrible Harriet and Fiona the Pig and Mr Chicken, as well as the Freaks and their teachers in 4F for Freaks and Freaks Ahoy. Old Tom has been adapted into an extremely popular TV series. Leigh has three times been shortlisted for the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award (for Mr Chicken Goes to Paris, Horrible Harriet and Old Tom's Holiday) and his books have won every major children’s choice award in Australia. Leigh’s books are published by Allen & Unwin.

Leigh Hobbs

Photo credit: Robert Littlewood

As well as being an author and illustrator Leigh works as an artist in a wide range of mediums. He has designed the colour scheme for the entrance to Melbourne’s Luna Park and the creature that sits atop a ride inside the park called the ‘spider’. A Flinders Street Station teapot he made is in the National Gallery of Victoria, and two caricature sculptures he created for Sydney’s Luna Park in the early 1970s are at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.


Sign up to the Australian Children's Laureate newsletter and get all the latest news, event details, giveaways and educational resources related to Leigh's laureateship



  1. Meera Govil says:

    Congratulations, Leigh. So well deserved.Long live Old Tom, Horrible Harriet and Mr Chicken.Long live your wicked smile.

  2. Kerryn Grice says:

    I run a writers group at Nundah State School in Queensland. Would love a visit and could invite other writers groups from local schools if appropriate, would be so exciting to have a real author visit.