Barry Jonsberg

Portrait Barry Jonsberg
© Jen Dainer

The Australian writer Barry Jonsberg was born in 1951 in Liverpool in the United Kingdom. He studied English Literature there, began working as a College lecturer in Crewe, Cheshire in 1979, and emigrated to Australia in 1999.
Since 2004, Jonsberg has published children’s and young adult books that have been translated into many languages and received many awards. The young adult book »The Whole Business with Kiffo and the Pitbull« (2004) tells of the friendship between Kiffo, a boy from a socially disadvantaged home, and his classmate Calma, who helps him ambush their shared English teacher, named Pitbull, because they believe that she secretly deals with drugs. Its sequel, »Itʼs Not All About You, Calma« (2007), won the South Australian Festival Award for Children’s Literature. The first person narrative, interviews, poetry, and script fragments alternate to describe the total chaos in Calma’s life – a story about young people’s problems and their attempts to solve them. At the centre of »My Life As An Alphabet« (2013) is twelve-year-old Candice Phee, who at first glance seems strange and stubborn, but despite her difficult situation (her little sister has died, her mother is depressed, and her father has failed professionally) always tries to make others happy. The reason why Candice tells about her life is an essay that her English teacher assigns to the class. Each of the 26 chapters begins with a different letter – from »A is for Assignment« to »Z is for Zero Hour«. Jonsberg’s children’s book is »tragic, crazy, funny and touching at the same time. The perfect combination«, wrote the »Cellesche Zeitung«. Jonsberg received numerous prizes for this book, including the Childrenʼs Peace Literature Award. The book has recently been made into a major motion picture, called »H is for Happiness«, starring Miriam Margolyes of Harry Potter fame. It premiered at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August 2019. Within the »Blacky Trilogy«, which began in 2009 with »A Croc Called Capone« and ended in 2010 with »Blacky Blasts Back. On the Tail of the Tassie Tiger«, »Dog who Dumped on my Dooma« (2010) was published, telling the story of a talking dog that leads a boy to stand up for the conservation of animal species. Most recently, Jonsberg published »A Song Only I Can Hear« (2018). Rob likes a new classmate, but he is extremely shy and suffers from severe panic attacks. Rob receives anonymous text messages with tasks that might help him to gather his courage and conquer the new classmate’s heart.
Jonsberg, whose books have been published in many European, American, and Asian countries, lives in Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.