Author Lesley Gibbes publishes her 10th picture book!

Turning ten is a big deal – once you hit double digits, there’s no going back. And this is exactly the milestone author and AWC presenter Lesley Gibbes is celebrating with the publication of her 10th picture book. Dinosaur Dads illustrated by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall, is out now with Scholastic Australia.

We had a chat with Lesley about her latest book. Discover how Lesley has fun with dinosaurs, writing in rhyme, and why she really loves Kmart.

Congratulations on your latest picture book, Dinosaur Dads. It sounds like so much fun. Can you tell us what it’s about?
Dinosaur Dads is a romping, stomping dinosaur adventure celebrating all things dad for Father’s Day.

The dinosaur kids get up to all kinds of mischief with their dads. They sprint and chase in the biggest ever dinosaur race. They romp and stomp to the dinosaur swamp. There are mud fights and water play and piggyback rides too! It’s exhausting fun.

The picture book is written in full rhyme so it’s super fun to read out loud. And it has been illustrated in vibrant, full colour digital illustrations by Marjorie Crosby-Fairall.

Here’s a little taste of the language:

The dinosaur kids whinge and grumble until,
An earth-shaking STOMP echoes over the hill.
Get ready, get set for daddies galore.
Here they come! Here they come! Here they come…

What inspired you to write Dinosaur Dads?
The inspiration for Dinosaur Dads came from my own experiences raising my family and the fun activities we enjoyed together. The theme of family fun is sure to resonate with children and parents alike.

This is your 10th published picture book! What an amazing milestone. How has your process changed over time? And what did you do differently for this book?
You’re right, it is! I didn’t realise until you pointed it out. I’ll have to have a little celebration now.

My writing process hasn’t changed that much but when I’m writing in rhyme, I tend to approach writing in a different way. I create a lot of word banks around the topic. As my dinosaur dads were so active, I created a lot of action verb lists then searched the list for possible rhyming words and story plot ideas. I also used online rhyming word finders to help.

Unfortunately, when you’re writing in rhyme, there are times when you need to let great ideas go because there just aren’t enough rhyming words to support it. Sometimes this is a blessing in disguise as it pushes me to find something better.

You posted your amazing inflatable dinosaur on Twitter. What’s his name and what role will he play on school visits?
I always laugh at how Kmart just seems to have exactly what I need for my books no matter how obscure. For example, with my Fizz chapter book series I needed a handbag dog – and guess what? Kmart had a cute little dog in a pink handbag! So, I wasn’t surprised at all to find the perfect blow-up dinosaur for Dinosaur Dads. But I haven’t named him yet!! He’s a big red brontosaurus. What do you think?

I do a lot of school visits booked through The Children’s Bookshop Speakers’ Agency and always take lots of props especially when I’m entertaining a young audience. I think I might challenge the kids to tell me some action verbs and have my blow-up dinosaur to perform them.

I’m also super lucky to have lots of craft activities for Dinosaur Dads to share with children thanks to the illustrator, Marjorie Crosby-Fairall. You can access Marjorie’s craft activities here.

Congratulations on your picture book Searching for Cicadas which has now come out in paperback. What does it mean when a picture book gets a paperback release?

Most picture books are released as hardback books. If the book has sold well then your publishing house will consider whether or not to release the book in paperback.

Searching For Cicadas was a CBCA shortlisted book for the Eve Pownell Award in 2020 and this certainly helped increase sales. So I’m delighted that Searching For Cicadas, illustrated by Judy Watson and published by Walker Books Australia, is being released in paperback on 1st August.

I’ve already received my advance copies and they look sensational. The paperback version is so good I love it just as much as the hardback copy.

You also write chapter books – and present our course Writing Chapter Books for 6-9 year olds. How is it different writing a picture book compared to a chapter book?
This is something that I discuss in detail in the course and something that writers need to get their heads around. Writing a picture book is very different to writing a chapter book, which is different again from writing a middle grade novel.

Each of these types of children’s books have very specific audiences, word counts, language use, story structure and industry expectations. So for example Dinosaur Dads has a word count of around 400 words compared to my chapter book Fizz that sit at around 5500 words.

And finally, what are you working on now?
I write all sorts of things. Some are for publication, and some are just for pleasure. One of my secret pleasures is poetry which I like to share with my daughter.

I’ve just contributed to a kickstarter project to publish a new volume of poetry for children The Secret Boat by Mark Macleod to be published by Dirt Lane Press.

You can find out more about Lesley Gibbes at

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