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Elaine Forrestal (1941–) Biography

Personal, Career, Member, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights

Born 1941, in Perth, Western Australia, Australia; (a secretary; Education: Earned degree in early childhood education. Hobbies and other interests: Swimming, traveling, reading, walking, gardening.


Bank of New South Wales, secretary, 1958–62; Education Department of Western Australia, teacher, 1970–81, early childhood specialist, 1984–99. Lecturer; speaker at festivals and conferences; writer-in-residence at libraries and schools throughout Australia and in Northern Ireland.


Australian Society of Authors, Children's Book Council of Australia (Western Australia Branch).

Honors Awards

Western Australian Premier's Book Award shortlist for children's book, 1991, and Australian Children's Book Council (CBC) Notable Book designation, 1992, both Elaine Forrestalfor The Watching Lake; Highly Commended designation, National Association for Special Education Children's Book Award, 1997, Book of the Year, CBC, and Western Australia Young Readers Award (WAYRA) Hoffman Award in Younger Readers category, both 1998, and Young Australia Best Book Award shortlist, 1999 and 2000, all for Someone like Me; Western Australian Premier's Book Awards shortlist, 1999, for Struggler's Reef; CBC Book of the Year for Younger Readers shortlist, 2000, for Graffiti on the Fence; WAYRA for Young Readers shortlist, 2003, for Winning; Western Australia Premier's Book Award shortlist for children's book, 2003, for Deep Water, and 2005, for Black Earth; CBC Notable Book designation, 2004, for Deep Water.



The Watching Lake, Puffin (Melbourne, Australia), 1991.

Someone like Me, Puffin (Melbourne, Australia), 1996.

Straggler's Reef, Fremantle Arts Centre Press (Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 1999.

Graffiti on the Fence, Puffin (Melbourne, Australia), 1999.

Leaving No Footprints, Puffin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 2001.

Winning, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2002.

A Glassful of Giggles (stories), illustrated by Sharon Thompson, Fremantle Arts Centre Press (Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 2002.

Rainbow Jackets (stories), illustrated by Sharon Thompson, Fremantle Arts Centre Press (North Fremantle, Western Australia, Australia), 2003.

Stories have appeared on Australian television program Mulligrubs. Contributor to periodicals, including Highlights for Children; contributor to anthologies, including Creepy-Crawly Stories, edited by Barbara Ireson, Century Hutchinson (London, England), 1986, and Stories to Share, edited by Jean Chapman, Hodder and Stoughton (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1983.

Author's works have been translated into Italian and Slovenian.


Deep Water, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2003.

Stone Circle, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Black Earth, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2004.

Wild Wind, Puffin (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia), 2005.


Elaine Forrestal is an Australian writer who has produced middle-grade novels such as the award-winning Straggler's Reef, Someone like Me, and Winning, as well as the collections of simple, short read-aloud tales published as A Glassful of Giggles and Rainbow Jackets. Her "Eden Glassie" mystery novels, which take place during the holiday season on a working Australian vineyard, focus on Tori, Maddie, Brontë, and Morgan, four cousins who encounter a host of interesting people as well as adventures that sometimes lead them into a parallel world where fairies, pirates, or ghosts can cross their path. In a Magpies profile, Alison Gregg praised Forrestal's writing for possessing "realistic child characters in realistic settings," a "sure-sense of dialogue," and action-packed plots that contain an "exploration of issues that are meaningful to children now."

Working as a preschool teacher in Perth, Australia, for many years, Forrestal began her writing career by writing down several of the stories she told her students and submitting them for publication in anthologies and periodicals. Her first novel, The Watching Lake, was inspired by a local legend about a ghost that haunted Herdman's Lake, near Forrestal's suburban home. The novel presents readers with a mystery as well as an inherent warning about the ecological damage that may result from tampering with nature, and was shortlisted for the Western Australia Premier's Book Award in 1991.

In Forrestal's novel Someone like Me, the life of an ordinary sixth-grade boy is changed in many ways when he discovers that his family's neighbor has a troubling mystery in her past. The recipient of several honors, Someone like Me is "bursting with lovely images of the Australian countryside and lifestyle," according to reviewer Cecile Grumelart in Magpies.

Curious about her family's past, Karri finds her questions leading to a dangerous reef where treasure as well as danger may await her in Forrestal's 1999 novel. (Cover illustration by Marion Duke.)

In Straggler's Reef the past surfaces in the present as young Australians Karri and Jarrad are stranded on a reef while sailing with their father off the coast of western Australia. Karrie passes the time reading her grandmother's journal when Carrie, a ghostly figure from the past, appears on the yacht deck and announces that the boat is stranded directly overtop a sunken treasure. Forrestal's "recount of events in the 1840s is engrossing and evocative," wrote Australian Book Review writer Pam Mcintyre, while Magpies critic Fran Knight called Straggler's Reef "a gripping tale." Although Forrestal's emphasis on action appeals to middle-grader readers, in the novel she weaves in issues such as "how [language] has changed, family history, children's roles in their families and expectations of how boys and girls should behave," according to Kylie Williams in a review of Straggler's Reef for REACT.

Other novels by Forrestal include Leaving No Footprint, Winning, and her ongoing "Eden Glassie Mystery" series, focusing on friends Henny and Kip and Kip's dog Stranger. Part of the "Eden Glassie" series, Leaving No Footprints follows the teens as they first meet during a summer holiday when Henny's family go to their vacation home on Dog Beach. At first fellow beach dweller Kip seems reserved and moody, but the two soon become friends, and when their boat is endangered during a storm Henny finally learns the reasons for Kip's need for emotional distance.

Focusing on the rivalries that can sometimes occur even in the closest friendships, Winning introduces middle-graders Pearce and Yosef. Always a natural at sports, Pearce is also a natural leader among his schoolmates, and when Yosef begins to show a talent for running Pearce feels threatened by this unfamiliar competition. A series of local robberies also prove cause for concern among the group of boys when it coincides with Pearce's seemingly sudden change in behavior. Suspicions grow among his friends, who do not know their friend's secret: that Pearce is also dealing with a violent father.

In addition to novels, Aussie writer Forrestal has also authored short stories for younger readers, such as the five tales in this 2003 collection. (Cover illustration by Sharon Thompson.)

Forrestal once told SATA: "Children are not as easily fooled as some people seem to think. They will not tolerate anything but the highest degree of honesty and transparency from their authors. And they demand relevance in what they read, which means that the children's author must keep up to date with what kids are watching on TV, the games they are playing, and the music they are listening to. In this regard, access to kids in a school playground is a very useful thing.

"Until recently, teaching and writing have been complementary careers for me. I began writing stories to use with my class when I became frustrated with the lack of suitable commercially available material. And many of my stories are based on incidents or characters I have encountered at school."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Australian Book Review, July, 1999, Pam Macintyre, review of Straggler's Reef, p. 43.

Books for Keeps, May, 1998, Juliana Oliver, review of Someone like Me, p. 18.

Magpies, July, 1992, p. 20; March, 1997, Cecile Grumelart, review of Someone like Me, p. 33; July, 1999, Fran Knight, review of Straggler's Reef; March, 2002, review of Leaving No Footprints, p. 33; May, 2002, review of Winning, p. 33, and Alison Gregg, "Know the Author: Elaine Forrestal"; November, 2003, review of Deep Water, p. 34.

REACT, Volume 99, number 4, Kylie Williams, review of Straggler's Reef, p. 3.

Reading Time, Volume 43, number 4.


Aussie Reviews Online, http://www.aussiereviews.com/ (October 20, 2005), Sally Murphy, review of A Glassful of Giggles and Rainbow Jackets.

Penguin Books Australia Web site, http://www.penguin.com.au/ (May 4, 2005), "Elaine Forrestal."

Additional topics

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