Mark Carthew is an award winning Australian children’s author, poet, musician and educator well known for his books and series celebrating language, humour and wordplay.
His illustrated play script series VoiceWorks has sold over one million titles worldwide. Mark’s rhyme and riddle books Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots, Wicked Wizards & Leaping Lizards and Witches’ Britches, Itches & Twitches! were created in collaboration with renowned UK illustrator Mike Spoor.
Mark’s picture books include Five Little Owls illustrated by Crichton award winning illustrator Mini Goss and The Gobbling Tree, winner of Speech Pathology Australia’s 2009 Book of the Year. His anthology Can You Keep a Secret? Timeless rhymes to share and treasure illustrated by Jobi Murphy was a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book. Mark has extensive experience in trade and education editing and publishing with over 100 + books, as well as numerous anthologies, poems and songs published with Australian and international publishers.
Mark is a former Board Member of Australian Society of Authors (ASA) and a 2020 May Gibbs Children’s Literature Trust Fellow. Mark has a PhD in Writing from Swinburne University and he is currently an Adjunct Research Fellow with Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. Mark’s recent picture books include The Moose is Loose! illustrated by Matt Stanton & published by Harper Collins Publishers / ABC Books, The Great Zoo Hullabaloo! illustrated by Anil Tortop and three new books in the Marvin & Marigold series ill. by Simon Prescott (UK); Marvin & Marigold The Big Sneeze, Marvin & Marigold: A Christmas Surprise and Marvin & Marigold: A Stormy Night. 2020 has seen the release of a special 10th Anniversary Edition of the CBCA Notable verse and song anthology Can You Keep a Secret? Timeless rhymes to share and treasure and The Dingle Dangle Jungle ill. by Dave Atze, published by Ford Street Publishing.
Illustrations © Mike Spoor
How old are you?
Think of a number (and don't forget it).
Divide your answer by two.
Now take away the number you first thought of.
Then take that number away from 1959 and that was the year I was born.
Then you figure it out…
When did you start writing?
At school where I loved writing poetry.
Where do your ideas come from?
Silly answer: My Head
Serious answer: Looking at the special little things in the world and letting my imagination go…
What kind of books do you write?
I write picture books, poetry, songs, musicals and plays for children. I’m also a collector of poems, rhymes, stories, playground chants and make books of these collections called anthologies. That also makes me an anthologist.
Are your books published in other countries?
Yes – some have been published in South Africa, Korea, Hong Kong, Canada, UK and The USA.
What’s your favorite joke?
Patient: Doctor! Doctor! I’m beginning to think I’m invisible
Doctor: Who said that?
What’s your second favorite joke?
What was your funniest moment on tour?
When asked a boy asked me what it what like doing a book with Pamela Anderson (He meant of course Pamela Allen & the play script version of Brown Bread & Honey).
Where do you live?
At the base of Mt Dandenong opposite a National Park in Montrose, Victoria, Australia.
Do you have any special places?
Mallacoota & Wilson’s Promontory Victoria and Cradle Mountain Tasmania.
Do you have any pets?
Yes, 2 dogs (Jaffa & Elton).
Are you married?
Yes, to my wife.
What’s your favorite own book?
Too hard a question!
What are you favorite other books?
The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien) & Yertle the Turtle (Dr Suess).
Who are your Favorite Bands?
The Beatles & Crowded House.
What are your favorite movies?
The Princess Bride & Galaxy Quest.
What’s it like being a children’s writer?
Creating illustrated books is like being a kid and adult rolled into one - and good fun. I feel really lucky because I get to work with illustrators & designers who are very talented people. I love creative ideas. It’s great.
Illustrations © Mike Spoor
My 3 children’s names - Michael, Laura & Simon are in the rhyming verse of The Gobbling Tree. I snuck in one of the illustrator’s sons Thomas as well and the publisher’s youngest daughter Grace.
My play series VoiceWorks has sold over a million copies worldwide and is in the USA, Canada and in the UK as part of the Big Cat series.
The bad guy in my musical The Dragon Returns is called Count Boris Bestinky.
I’m not rich. Most authors aren’t.
In Wicked Wizards & Leaping Lizards on page 35, the ‘um’ page - the goblin is holding a plum (plum bob) used in bricklaying to get a vertical straight line via gravity. Mr Fatimus Frogmorton is not a real librarian.
In Newts, Lutes and Bandicoots you will find a tiny hidden newt or bandicoot holding a lute somewhere in each page spread.
In Five Little Owls there are lots of things to search for in groups of five, especially on the non-text double page spreads. See if you can find the five bull ants in the double gatefold foldout.
I met my wife in high school.
My parents gave me a guitar for my 10th birthday.
I walked the Cradle Mountain Track in Tasmania with my family for my 50th birthday.
I have 7 guitars & a dulcimer.
You’ll find a great version of Sharon, Lois & Bram doing Skinnamarink on Youtube.