Columnist, scriptwriter and award-winning children's author Morris Gleitzman was born in England in 1953 and migrated to Australia with his parents when he was sixteen years old. After completing a course in professional writing at the Canberra College of Advanced Education (now the University of Canberra), Gleitzman began his writing career in television. Among his television credits are the Norman Gunston Show, and two series for children, Winners and More Winners.
This successful 'taste' of writing for children (including an AWGIE Award for Best Original Children's Script in 1985 for The Other Facts of Life) led Gleitzman to publish his first novel - an adaptation of the script - in 1985.
Gleitzman's background in scriptwriting can be seen by the use of strong dialogue and action in his novels as a means of illustrating the characters' interior world. The use of humour as an engaging vehicle for serious themes is another hallmark of his work. These characteristics are embodied in all of his work for children, including his award-winning Two Weeks with the Queen (Family Award, 1990), Misery Guts (Honour Book, Children's Book Council of Australia, 1992) and Blabbermouth (Honour Book, CBCA, 1993; CROW Award, 1993; BILBY Award, 1993). Gleitzman's protagonists are contemporary, young, and all have to find some way of dealing with problems in their lives. These problems, which Gleitzman handles with both sensitivity and irreverent humour, range from the illness of a brother with cancer (Two Weeks with the Queen), to parents' depression (Misery Guts). Gleitzman has won numerous awards for his work, and his novels have been consistent winners in children's choice literary awards.
Two Weeks with the Queen has been successfully adapted for the stage. For a number of years Gleitzman also wrote a column for the Sydney Morning Herald, later published as Gleitzman on Saturday. As well as his own novels, Gleitzman has collaborated with fellow children's author Paul Jennings on recent work, including the Wicked! Series
(i) CA lists a novel for young people 'Poms' (1990); this has not been traced and it is doubtful that it was ever published, at least under that title (ii) OXAC incorrectly lists Gleitzman's given name as 'Maurice'.
'Like many of his mates from the bush, Frank Ballantyne is keen to join the grand adventure and do his bit. Specially as a chest full of medals might impress the currently unimpressed parents of his childhood sweetheart. So Frank ups his age and volunteers with his horse Daisy ... and his dad.
'In the deserts of Egypt and Palestine he experiences all the adventure he ever wanted, and a few things he wasn't expecting. Heartbreak, love and the chance to make the most important choice of his life.
'From Gallipoli to the famous charge at Beersheba, through to the end of the war and its unforgettable aftermath, Frank's story grows out of some key moments in Australia's history.' (Publication summary)