International bookings available for award winning Australian author and illustrator Leigh Hobbs – previous Australian Children’s Laureate.

Books go Walkabout is proud to offer Leigh world-wide representation for events and reader e-contacts outside Australia.

Contact Books go Walkabout here

Leigh can Zoom into your school or even make an actual visit, when Covid allows! Either way, you are in for a treat and an amazing insight into his characters, their travels and books.

Leigh’s films for free during lock-down!

Leigh doesn’t travel alone – Mr Chicken, Old Tom and Horrible Harriet can come into every school hall and classroom. Becoming firm friends with all the children.

What an inspiration Leigh is to children and teachers. More children into reading and drawing characters, bringing them to life beyond words!

Check out Leigh’s new video sequences on Vimeo.

A great resource for exploring Leigh’s creative work, or to use an event trigger to stimulate young imaginations…or as an introduction to Leigh in your own classroom!

We have had great times in schools with Leigh; including William Tyndale Primary in Islington and Brandlehow Primary School in Putney. Leigh immediately gets the children interested.

Where’s Leigh? Can you spot him?

“ Whose feeling brave?” as he shows a picture of Old Tom.

Who has a sister or brother that looks like that” he asked.

“What a star!”

From a unique teaching method all the children were able to draw the characters with their own variations and were shown how to make their faces look really naughty or full of mischief.

Chicken’s have character too!

The sessions were all great, books were devoured and over 4 classes, 120 children plus the whole school assembly we left knowing that that day would have made a huge difference to the children and their enjoyment of reading. A good day and an excellent achievement.

Leigh Hobbs is an Australian artist and author, best known in Australia and the United Kingdom for the humorous children’s books which he has written and illustrated, although he has produced works across a wide range of mediums.

Leigh Hobbs and Mr. Chicken

His books principally feature the characters Old TomHorrible HarrietFiona the PigMr Badger and Mr Chicken, and characters from the 4F for FREAKS books.

He was the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2016 -17.

Leigh is best known for the twenty children’s books he has written and illustrated featuring his characters Old Tom, Mr Chicken (Buy Here), Mr Badger (Buy here), Horrible Harriet, Fiona the Pig and the Freaks in 4F.

His book ‘Mr Chicken Goes to Paris’ has been a constant best seller in the Louvre Museum Bookshop for nine years, while Old Tom was turned into an extremely popular television series and, in 2017, Horrible Harriet was adapted for the Sydney Opera House stage.

Leigh was a secondary school art teacher for twenty five years, and has had experience inspiring children to create in words and or pictures at countless Literary Festivals including the Hay, Oxford and Cheltenham Festivals and school visits around the world.

Leigh’s work with schools

Leigh has huge experience of working with children, as an illustrator, author and lecturer, and before that as a teacher. He makes sure all children have fun at his presentations and learn a huge amount about writing and using illustrations.

Teachers too will find new ways to be creative, and free themselves and the children to draw, write and discover new characters. Leigh aims to have children relish the act of creating, drawing and writing at their own individual levels.

“This is about how different we all are, not who is best”, says Leigh.

As part of the presentation or workshop each child will have a unique drawing and have developed a special character in his workshops as described below.

Leigh’s Presentations and Workshops

Creating Characters Workshop

Suitable for most primary age groups (for children: 6 – 12yrs and lasts approximately 60 mins.

The theme of the presentation is ‘Creating Characters’. Ideal length: 55-60 minutes. The AIM is to have children relish the act of creating, drawing, writing, – free from the pressure of assessment or ranking. The sessions are very much hands on workshops and from the beginning the students are told that ‘this is about how different we all are, not who is best’.

Students draw Old Tom step by step following Leigh’s instructions, all the while noting that even though every drawing will look like Old Tom, ‘every drawing will be different because each student is different’.

After that the students relax, show each other their work, and then draw Mr Chicken while selecting different ways to draw different facial expressions.

After this the students are ready to create their own characters in words and pictures.

Leigh also gives presentations and / or workshops to older students and adults on the subject of ‘Visual Literacy’. This is a very interesting presentation with plenty of time for discussion and enables students to understand how visual images and concepts effect learning and interpretation, enhancing text and story.

A press release from The Sydney Morning Herald …

At the Sydney Writer’s Festival he had 2500 enraptured children drawing with him- he is both artist and author and he is a fan of the increasingly vulnerable school libraries and their librarians.”

The power of the book, the influence of the Laureate

In an interview in Mirrors, Windows and Doors, at the commencement of his Laureateship, Leigh was asked about the abandonment of the library – as both an intellectual resource in schools and communities, and as a valued concept in the learning process. (We have the same foreboding about ‘the book’ in the UK too, Ed.)

In a wonderful, energetic and focused reply Leigh described his tenure …

”…as the Australian Children’s Laureate, during my two-year term I’ll be visiting every state in Australia at least once as an advocate for the power, value and importance of reading. I’ll be running workshops and doing presentations for and to adults on visual literacy, the power of picture books and creating characters in ‘words and pictures’.

And for the kids I will be running workshops with the theme of creating your own characters…in words and pictures. I was a secondary art teacher for twenty five years, so my teaching survival skills are quite honed”.


Grounded, energetic and enthusiastic – just as Leigh delivers his workshops or argues for the profound influence of the book and it’s creativity driving influence on young minds in workshops – whatever the age of the audience.

A love and feel for place

Last year Leigh conducted a brief tour of Australian illustrated children’s books for The Guardian in the UK.

Mr Chicken and The Guardian - image and web link
Mr Chicken en-route to The Guardian offices?

In a wonderfully illustrated article, Leigh compares and contrasts his own work with those of other artists. It is a comparison which highlights, we thought, the vivacity, colour and movement of Leigh’s own work, but also shows how mood and feeling are created, by others in storytelling,  through the use of the image.

In his comparision Leigh looks at the work of Shaun TanGreg RogersGregg Dreise and Marc Martin amongst others.

In his generous and affirmational article, Leigh counterpoints his own style and methodology of story creation with that of indigenous artists and others, who use colour and tone in ways that are very different from Leigh’s work, but are as emphatically telling in their quality to generate reflection and feeling.

Leigh’s article for The Guardian is a triumph of context. If you are interested in the imagination of young Australians, and the proponents of creativity for it, then Leigh’s tour is the exemplar.

Great creativity and excitement about books, all the way from Australia…