Jackie French was born in Sydney and grew up in Brisbane, completing her education at the University of Queensland. In her early twenties she moved to a property in the Araluen Valley on the edge of the Deua wilderness, New South Wales, and later developed a career as a writer.
French's books for children and young adults have been well-received, winning many awards, including several from the Children's Book Council of Australia. Her works regularly appear on the Kids Own Australian Literature Awards (KOALA) and Young Australian Best Book Awards (YABBA) shortlists which are nominated by readers. She has spoken numerous times to groups of children and adults, and has frequently run writing workshops. Her writing and workshops often combine her concern for social issues with her love of nature.
French has published many gardening books and has been a columnist for Women's Weekly, Earth Garden, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sunday Canberra Times. She appeared regularly on the television show Burke's Backyard.
French has been the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Children's Ambassador, and patron of several of organisations including Cool Club (an ACT library program to encourage children to read), At Home with Books (a program to encourage reading with foster children) and Wildcare (a project that looks after injured wildlife). She has also been a director of The Wombat Foundation.
French was the 2011 National Literacy Ambassador for National Literacy and Numeracy Week. In late 2013, she was selected as the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2014-2015.
'Pile the presents by the tree/ Though clouds spiral out at sea./ Wind snarls, skies weep grey/ But Santa's sleigh is on its way!
'Christmas Eve 1974 is marked indelibly into the Australian psyche, as the night tropical Cyclone Tracy devastated the city of Darwin. Now, over 40 years later, Jackie French's lyrical rhyming text tells the story of a city's indomitable spirit, and Bruce Whatley's sumptuous illustrations bring to life the powerful force of the storm to a whole new generation of readers.' (Publication summary)
'Horace is a very big horse with an even bigger heart. Every day he pulls the baker’s cart and helps Old William, Big Bill and Young Billy take bread, buns and other doughy delights to all the people in the town. But when a terrible flu makes everyone sick, who is going to deliver the bread to hungry families? ' (Publication summary)
'Is 17-year-old Jed Kelly a con artist or a survivor? When she turns up at Drinkwater Station claiming to be the great granddaughter of Matilda Thompson's husband, Jed clearly has secrets. Set in 1968 against the backdrop of the first historic moon walk, this is the fifth title in the sweeping Matilda Saga series.' (Publication summary)