Sydney Writers’ Festival Family Weekend

On Saturday afternoon, Sydney Writers’ Festival Family Weekend kicks off with Aaron Blabey (The Bad Guys; Pig the Pug; Thelma the Unicorn) live on stage at Sydney’s Town Hall. He will preview new stories, take audience questions, and draw his famous characters for his event AARON BLABEY: THE BAD GUYS, PIG THE PUG & THELMA THE UNICORN. There’s an opportunity to grab a copy of the new Bad Guys book, published just a few days before the show. [Rec. 5+]. Plus there’s Megan McDonald and  Katherine Rundell. At JUDY MOODY AND STINK’S GUIDE TO LIFE, Megan McDonald (USA) invites her readers into the lives of her most popular characters, the dynamic sibling duo Judy Moody and little brother Stink. Now entering its seventeenth year, and having sold over 30 million copies worldwide, the Judy Moody series was born from everyday inspiration, fascinating information and fun facts discovered through research, and tales from her own childhood—all of which she promises to reveal at this Sunday event. [Rec. 6+]

At HOW TO SURVIVE IN THE AMAZON JUNGLE, Katherine Rundell shares secrets about how to survive in the unknown wilderness of the Amazonian jungle. This knowledge forms the basis of her new book The Explorer, a survival story that begins when Fred and three other children crash- land hundreds of miles from home. [Rec 7+]

Help us launch Sally Rippin’s final instalment of the wildly popular Shadow Chronicles, Polly and Buster: The Search for the Silver Witch. At POLLY AND BUSTER: THE BEST OF FRIENDS, fans will be able to grab an early copy of the book and discover what this monster and witch duo can teach us about kindness, staying true to yourself, and the important people in your life. [Rec 6+]

Picture books are given especial attention this year with a range of illustrators and authors attending the festival. Award-winning author Maxine Beneba Clarke (Fashionista; Wide Big World; The Patchwork Bible) has turned her hand to illustration in her new picture book FASHIONISTA: EXPRESS YOURSELF!, demonstrating how personal style and flair can be the key to finding your confidence and individuality. [Rec. 4+] After being chosen as Picture Book of the Month at the Tate Modern, super talents Davina Bell and Allison Colpoys (CBCA Crichton Award for Best New Talent; Longlisted for Greenaway Medal) bring to life ALL THE WAYS TO BE SMART, their radiant and life-affirming celebration of the different qualities that make every child unique. [Rec. 4+] And attention all budding artists: grab pencil and paper, fire up the imagination, and get ready to draw with Matt Cosgrove, author and illustrator of Macca the Alpaca. He will guide a session where children will learn the secrets for drawing robots and alpacas, step-by-step. [Rec. 4+]

This year’s program boasts innovative performances that involve the audience. THE NEVER- ENDING QUACK UP!, hosted by Sally Rippin, R. A. Spratt, Oliver Phommavanh, Adrian Beck, and Deborah Abela is a ridiculous, out-there romp in which favourite children authors invent an original story on the spot—with a little help from the crowd, of course. Likewise, in STORYTELLERS’ BATTLE GROUND! two pairs of children’s book creators face off live on stage for the annual storytelling showdown. Which author/illustrator duo will take home the crown? Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood (Real Pigeons Nest Hard)? Or Adam Wallace and James Hart (Cowboy and Birdbrain)?

The multi-talented Gregg Dreise—gifted artist, storyteller, and musician—brings his didgeridoo and guitar to the event MY CULTURE AND ME, in which he explores the power of musical storytelling to discuss his moving book My Culture and Me. Richly written and illustrated, heartfelt and stirring, Gregg’s new book cherishes and sustains Indigenous stories.

And everyone’s favourite scientist Dr Karl is ready to answer any outrageous curiosities about science, no matter how zany and weird. Why is the sky blue? Why are whales so big? Why am I smarter than my parents? If you have a question, Dr Karl knows the answer. VITAL SCIENCE WITH DR KARL.

On Sunday, Carriageworks hosts The Big Backyard, a FREE all-day occasion with no bookings required: come along to BADGE MAKING WITH CHERYL ORSINI; explore the world of HOW CITIES WORK WITH JAMES GULLIVER HANCOCK and help complete a giant puzzle; step into the ‘Expression Station’, dress up, strike a pose, and listen to some of Sydney’s most exciting LGBTQIA+ performers at RAINBOW STORYTIME; pull up a chair and settle in to hear your favourite children’s authors and illustrators read their stories all day long at STORYTIME CLUBHOUSE; and witness the inspiring process of illustration at THE ILLUSTRATION SPACE, where five of Australia’s most talented picture book artists take turns creating an illustration live on the Big Backyard stage.

There are loads more activities for kids all over the weekend and some for grown ups too. For more information on all events, please visit and check out the program listings.