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Paul Jennings (1943–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights

australia victoria camberwell stories

Born 1943, in Middlesex, England; immigrated to Australia, 1949; Hobbies and other interests: Racing historic cars, parties, Irish music, reading, walking.

Addresses

Agent—c/o Author Mail, Penguin Group Australia, 250 Camberwell Rd., Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia.

Career

Writer. Teacher, 1963–68; Ministry of Education, Australia, speech pathologist, 1972–75; Burwood State College, lecturer in special education, 1976–78; Warambool Institute of Adult Education, senior lecturer in language and literature, 1979–88.

Honors Awards

Young Australian Best Book Award, 1987, for Unreal! Eight Surprising Stories, 1988, for Unbelievable! More Surprising Stories, 1989, for The Cabbage Patch Fib and Uncanny! Even More Surprising Stories, 1990, for The Paw Thing, 1991, for Round the Twist, 1992, for Quirky Tales! More Oddball Stories and Unmentionable! More Amazing Stories, 1993, for Unbearable! More Bizarre Stories, 1994, for Spooner or Later and Undone! More Mad Endings, 1995, for Duck for Cover and The Gizmo, 1996, for The Gizmo Again, 1998, for Wicked!, and 2002, for Tongue-tied; Australian Writers' Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Children, 1990, and Prix Jeunesse Award, 1994, both for Round the Twist (television series); Gold Puffin Award, 1992, for selling one million books in Australia; Angus & Robertson Bookworld Award, 1993; Ashton Scholastic award (with Ted Greenwood and Terry Denton), 1993, for Spooner or Later; Victorian of the Year, Western Region, Australia Day (Victoria) Committee; Environment Award for Children's Literature, Wilderness Society, for The Fisherman and the Theefyspray; named member, General Division of the Order of Australia, 1995, for body of work; Dymocks Children's Choice Awards, 1998, for Sink the Gizmo and Wicked!, and voted Favourite Australian Author; Dromkeen Medal, 2001, for significant contributions to children's literature; numerous Australian child-selected awards, including Canberra's Own Outstanding List (COOL) award, West Australian Young Readers' Book Award, Kids Own Australian Literature (KOALA) award, Kids Reading Oz Choice (KROC) award, as well as Australian Publishers Association Book Industry award, Queensland Premier's Literary Award, Christian Schools' Book Award, Books I Like Best Yearly (BILBY) award, Australian Writers Guild award, and South Australian CROW award.

Writings

STORY COLLECTIONS

Unreal! Eight Surprising Stories (also see below), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1985, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.

Unbelievable! More Surprising Stories (also see below), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1986, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

Quirky Tails! More Oddball Stories (also see below), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1987, Puffin (New York, NY), 1990.

Uncanny! Even More Surprising Stories (also see below), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1988, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.

Unbearable! More Bizarre Stories (also see below), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1990, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

The Naked Ghost, Burp!, and Blue Jam, Longman Cheshire (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1991.

Unmentionable! More Amazing Stories (also see below), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1991, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.

Undone! More Mad Endings, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1993, Viking (New York, NY), 1995.

Uncovered! Weird, Weird Stories, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1995, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.

Thirteen! Unpredictable Tales, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.

The Paul Jennings Superdiary, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1996.

Unseen!, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1998.

Uncollected: Every Story from Unreal!, Unbelievable!, and Quirky Tails, Viking (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1998.

Uncollected: Volume Two: Every Story from Uncanny!, Unbearable!, and Unmentionable!, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1999.

Uncollected: Volume Three: Every Story from Undone!, Uncovered!, and Unseen!, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

The Paul Jennings Superdiary 2002, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2001.

Tongue-tied!, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

Uncooked!: Three Stories, Penguin (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2005.

Paul Jennings' Funniest Stories, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2005.

NOVELS AND CHAPTER BOOKS

The Cabbage Patch Fib, illustrated by Craig Smith, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1988.

The Paw Thing, illustrated by Keith McEwan, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1989.

Round the Twist (also see below), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1990.

The Gizmo (also see below), illustrated by Keith McEwan, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

The Gizmo Again (also see below), illustrated by Keith McEwan, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1995.

Sink the Gizmo (also see below), illustrated by Keith McEwan, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Singenpoo Strikes Again, illustrated by Keith McEwan, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1998.

Singenpoo Shoots Through, illustrated by Keith McEwan, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1999.

Sucked In, illustrated by Terry Denton, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Singenpoo's Secret Weapon, illustrated by Keith McEwan, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2001.

The Fantastic and Amazing Gizmo: All Four Stories in One (contains The Gizmo, The Gizmo Again, Come Back Gizmo, and Sink the Gizmo), Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

The Many Adventures of Singenpoo: All Four Stories in One (contains The Paw Thing, Singenpoo Strikes Again, Singenpoo Shoots Through, and Singenpoo's Secret Weapon), Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

The Cabbage Patch Pong, illustrated by Craig Smith, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

Maggot, Nelson Thornes (Cheltenham, England), 2003.

The Cabbage Patch Curse, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

How Hedley Hopkins Did a Dare, Robbed a Grave, Made a New Friend Who Might Not Have Really Been There at All, and While He Was at It Committed a Terrible Sin Which Everyone Was Doing Even Though He Didn't Know It, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2005.

PICTURE BOOKS

Teacher Eater, illustrated by Jeannette Rowe, Heinemann (London, England), 1991.

Grandad's Gifts, illustrated by Peter Gouldthorpe, Heinemann (London, England), 1991, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.

The Fisherman and the Theefyspray, illustrated by Jane Tanner, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

The Spitting Rat, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1999.

Rascal the Dragon, illustrated by Bob Lea, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Rascal's Trick, illustrated by Bob Lea, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Rascal Takes Off, illustrated by Bob Lea, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Rascal in Trouble, illustrated by Bob Lea, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Rascal at the Show, illustrated by Bob Lea, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Rascal and the Hot Air Balloon, illustrated by Bob Lea, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Rascal and the Cheese, illustrated by Bob Lea, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Rascal and Little Flora, illustrated by Bob Lea, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

GAME BOOKS; WITH TED GREENWOOD AND TERRY DENTON

Spooner or Later, Viking (New York, NY), 1992.

Duck for Cover, Penguin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 1994.

Freeze a Crowd: Riddles, Puns, and Conundrums, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1999.

Spit It Out!, Puffing (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2003.

"WICKED" SERIES; WITH MORRIS GLEITZMAN

The Slobberers (also see below), Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Battering Rams (also see below), Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Croaked (also see below), Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Dead Ringer (also see below), Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

The Creeper (also see below), Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Till Death Us Do Part (also see below), Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

Wicked! All Six Books in One (contains The Slobberers, Battering Rams, Croaked, Dead Ringer, The Creeper, and Till Death Us Do Part), Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1998.

"DEADLY" SERIES; WITH MORRIS GLEITZMAN

Nude (also see below), Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Brats (also see below), Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Stiff (also see below), Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Hunt (also see below), Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Grope (also see below), Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Pluck (also see below), Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Deadly! All Six Books in One (contains Nude, Brats, Stiff, Hunt, Grope, and Pluck), Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2001.

OTHER

Round the Twist (miniseries screenplay; based on his novel), Australian Children's Foundation, 1990.

The Reading Bug, and How You Can Help Your Child to Catch It (for adults), illustrated by Andrew Weldon, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2003.

Jennings's books have been translated into Danish, Slovakian, German, French, Spanish, and Japanese.

Work in Progress

A script for a movie based on the "Gizmo" books.

Sidelights

In addition to possessing a vivid imagination and a mildly disgusting sense of humor, Australian author Paul Jennings can credit his son's absolute dislike for reading as the ingredient that fueled his own career as a popular children's author. If it were not for the fact that the boy turned up his nose at most of the books put on his literary plate, Jennings might never have decided to take pen in hand and begin concocting such appetizing tales as "Cow Dung Custard" and "Clear as Mud." "The strength of Jennings's writing lies in original precepts and unexpected plot twists," noted a reviewer in Publishers Weekly. That may be true from a scholarly point of view, but as far as the most reluctant of readers are concerned, Jennings's appeal comes from his insistence upon digging around in places where parents and teachers always shout "hands-off," and constantly playing in the muck and mire of life.

Jennings introduces readers to his imaginative fiction with several collections of short stories, among them Unreal! Eight Surprising Stories, Quirky Tails: More Oddball Stories, Unbelievable! More Surprising Stories, and Uncanny! Even More Surprising Stories. Each of his tales concludes where the reader least expects it; surprise endings are concocted from a plotline that twists and turns like a cyclone. In "On the Bottom," a dying man cannot find peace even on his deathbed when his tattoos come to life and decide to find a new place to hang out. Brian's dog is determined to keep bringing home human bones that will not sit still in "Without a Shirt," while David ends up with super powers—and super problems—of his own in "Wonderpants." It is clear to young readers of Unreal!, Unbelievable!, and Uncanny! that, whether they are looking for haunted outhouses, a photocopy machine with an attitude, or piles of pig-poo, they will be sure to find it lurking somewhere in Jennings's unbelievable tales.

The subject matter of the stories in the fourth Un-book, Unmentionable! More Amazing Stories, came as no surprise to fans of Jennings's unbridled humor. Within the pages of Unmentionable! can be found "The Velvet Throne," which tells of the horrors of not only being locked in a public toilet, but having the graffiti scrawled upon the walls actually come true; and "Little Squirt," where a little boy triumphs over his brother in a contest that plays out in the school boys' room. In seven other stories, Jennings mines the same vein, not only mentioning the unmentionable but making it funny as well. Unbearable! More Bizarre Stories and Undone! More Mad Endings, following on the heels of Unmentionable, step more forcefully into the fantastic: In "Clear as Mud" the tables turn on a school bully after a bite he receives from a strange bug causes his skin to become as clear as cellophane. In "Noseweed," when Anthony only pretends to swallow the nasty cod liver oil-and-granola concoction his mother gives him, his cleverness backfires and the cereal starts sprouting. And in "What a Woman" a talented school athlete who also happens to be a girl gets her revenge against a group of taunting boys when she brings her aunt's toe in for show and tell.

Despite the bizarre elements, Jennings's tales "end with neat twists or telling questions that are more thoughtful than 'mad,'" according to reviewer John Peters in School Library Journal. Many of Jennings's short story collections have been combined into Uncollected, and he provides readers with an insight into his wildly off-kilter world with The Paul Jennings Superdiary and its sequel The Paul Jennings Superdiary 2002. Patricia Mahoney Brown, reviewing a Jennings collection for School Library Journal, felt that the stories featured in Quirky Tails are "imaginative, unusual, bizarre, and humor-ous," and that readers "become immersed directly into the plot." In a review of Thirteen! Unpredictable Tales, also for School Library Journal, Brian E. Wilson commented that the assembled stories "show what a gifted storyteller Jennings is."

Along with stories of the gross and strange, Jennings has collaborated on two serials with fellow Aussie author Morris Gleitzman, dishing up icky tales about deadly slobber worms that can suck out people's insides in The Slobberers, the first book of the "Wicked" series. Before the story is over, the heroes of the tale have encountered killer frogs, white-haired spies, and way-too-near-death experiences. The pair collaborated on a second serial, collected in the volume Deadly!, which starts with Amy being kidnapped in a military vehicle by a bunch of bratty little kids and Sprocket, an amnesiac, alone in the bush, naked, and without food. Are the commandos really children, or is something sinister happening? Amy and Sprocket have to team together to find out.

Other books for pre-teen readers include the award-winning The Cabbage Patch Fib, The Paw Thing, The Gizmo, and How Hedley Hopkins Did a Dare, Robbed a Grave, Made a New Friend Who Might Not Have Really Been There at All, and While He Was at It Committed a Terrible Sin Which Everyone Was Doing Even Though He Didn't Know It. The Cabbage Patch Fib tells the story of Chris who, wondering where babies come from, manages to find a small green baby in a cabbage patch. The baby will only behave if Chris is there to take care of it. The Paw Thing is the first in a series of books about Singenpoo, a cat who can read. When the world is threatened by a plague of mice, led by a rat named Mac, it seems only Singenpoo can defeat them. In The Gizmo Stephen steals a device called the gizmo, only to realize that once he has taken it, he will not be able to get rid of the thing. Most unfortunately, the gizmo seems to have the ability to switch Stephen's clothing with that of any passing person. The gizmo continues to cause trouble over a course of four books, and all of the stories are collected in The Fantastic and Amazing Gizmo: All Four Stories in One.

Written for slightly older readers, the story of Hedly Hopkins has a somewhat autobiographical feel: like Jennings himself, Hedly and his family move from England to Australia in 1956. Lonely and desperate to fit in, Hedly accepts a dare from a local gang to remove a skull from an opened grave and deliver it to the gang's leader. Contrary to its long title, How Hedley Hopkins Did a Dare, Robbed a Grave, Made a New Friend Who Might Not Have Really Been There at All, and While He Was at It Committed a Terrible Sin Which Everyone Was Doing Even Though He Didn't Know It features extremely short chapters with short sentences, and sustains a very quick pace while dealing with some serious issues and keeping Jennings's typical sense of humor.

Along with novels and picture books, Jennings has also designed a game book, along with coauthors Ted Greenwood and Terry Denton, called Spooner or Later, which is filled to brimming with silly illustrations and their accompanying "spoonerisms," a form of wordplay where the beginning sound of a pair of words is reversed, making "read the book" into the nonsensical "bead the rook." Jennings has collaborated with Greenwood and Denton on other game books filled with riddles, tongue-twisters, and jokes. Also the author of award-winning picture books, he introduces a dragon called Rascal and his young friend Ben in a series of eight books that begin with Rascal the Dragon. The story is a "delight to share with young people," according to a reviewer for Children's Bookwatch, while Teresa Wittmann noted in School Library Journal that "Beginning readers will enjoy this simple story about a boy who loves dragons."

Although Jennings's stories might raise eyebrows among parents, critics have praised his efforts for getting kids to sit down and read in the first place. "Here's a man whose definition of a reluctant reader is 'a child for whom adults have not been able to find a good enough book,'" according to Karen Jameyson in Horn Book. Jameyson praised Jennings for his ability to craft "quirky, incredibly accessible, funny tales with unexpected twists and turns" that provide enough interest in reading to motivate a host of children who have difficulty mastering this important skill. Jennings's efforts to encourage reluctant readers have been rewarded with several child-selected best book awards in his native country. He is particularly proud of such honors, once telling SATA: "Some adults think I should write about the sorts of things that they think kids should read. I only want to write the sorts of things that I think kids want to read. Books are fantastic. That's what I want my readers to think."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Dwyer, Judy, A Wizard Lit Master to Paul Jennings, Wizard Books (Ballarat, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Ricketson, Matthew, Paul Jennings: The Boy in the Story Is Always Me, 2000.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 15, 1988, p. 423; March 15, 1990, p. 1467; March 15, 1993, p. 1314; January 1, 1995, p. 816; June 1, 1997, Jeanette Larson, review of Unreal!, p. 1733.

Children's Bookwatch, February, 2005, review of Rascal the Dragon.

Horn Book, July-August, 1992, Karen Jameyson, "News from Down Under," pp. 497-500.

Junior Bookshelf, April, 1996, p. 78.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 1991, p. 1344; January 1, 1993, p. 62.

Magpies, November, 1997, review of Wicked!, p. 6, and Sink the Gizmo, p. 7; July, 1998, review of Singenpoo Strikes Again, p. 34; November, 1998, review of Unseen!, p. 6; May, 2002, review of Tongue-tied, p. 214; March, 2003, review of The Cabbage Patch Pong, p. 33; July, 2003, review of The Reading Bug, and How You Can Help Your Child to Catch It, p. 6.

Publishers Weekly, October 11, 1991, review of Unreal! Eight Surprising Stories and Uncanny! Even More Surprising Stories, p. 63.

School Librarian, November, 1995, p. 152; summer, 2001, review of Sucked In, p. 89, and review of Unseen! p. 102; winter, 2002, review of Tongue-tied, p. 214; autumn, 2004, Prue Goodwin, "The Reading Bug," p. 167.

School Library Journal, January, 1992, p. 113; January, 1995, John Peters, review of Undone! More Mad Endings, p. 108; August, 1998, review of Unreal! Eight Surprising Stories, p. 31; June, 2000, Patricia Mahoney Brown, review of Quirky Tales, p. 85; February, 2002, Brian E. Wilson, review of Thirteen! Unpredictable Tales, p. 74; March, 2004, Teresa Bateman, review of Tongue-tied, p. 88; January, 2005, Teresa Wittmann, review of Rascal the Dragon, p. 77.

ONLINE

Jubilee Books Web site, http://www.jubileebooks.co.uk/ (November 6, 2005), Paul Jennings, "The Writing Process" and interview.

Paul Jennings's Home Page, http://www.pauljennings.com.au (November 6, 2005).

Penguin Group Australia Web site, http://www.penguin.com.au/ (November 6, 2005), "Paul Jennings."

Patrick Jennings (1962-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights [next] [back] (John) Robin Jenkins Biography

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over 1 year ago

were does he live now its for my school work

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about 6 years ago

hi i love your book and i would like to know more about you for school could you please email me back

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almost 5 years ago

omg im so awsome

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Paul Jennings (1943–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Work in Progress, Sidelights