On the wall of his study, Paul Jennings has a photocopy of a cheque for $400 - his first advance.
It was for Unreal!, his first book of short stories, published in 1985. Since then, he's written more than 100 stories, several novels and picture books, and scripts for television shows.
He's won every award going, and sold more than 10 million books. Generations of kids grew up reading his quirky tales.
And yet, he says, there was a time, back in the days when he was an English teacher, when Australian publishers were facing a reckoning when it came to literature for young people.
"The publishers were just starting to feel that they shouldn't be so reliant on children's literature from overseas, and they were starting to look for it," he says.
"Basically, I remember sending my first three short stories to six different publishers, and Penguin picked them up, and said they liked them, and they were looking for something like that, so I was very lucky that I came in and I got enormous support from them right from the start."
The publishers were onto a good thing; today, Jennings' books are synonymous with growing up, and discovering reading.
Written before the advent of the internet, many of his stories evoke the kind of childhood we're led to believe no longer exists.
And yet, as Jennings is told almost constantly, they still resonate.
"I think what I'd say from a theoretical point of view is that the feelings that the children have are really, really important when you're writing for them," he says.
"You've really, genuinely got to get inside their mind, their experience, their fears, their hopes, their embarrassments, and although the actual world in which they're set is different, those things are exactly the same.
"So, starting school is still scary, being left out is still scary, thinking is someone under the bed is still scary, and so really, the secret to getting the children to actually like your story is that it resonates as genuine, and something they'd relate to in their feelings, and the feelings are really what's important.
"The fact that those stories still work I think is really lovely and I do take it as a compliment when people tell me that."
Today, the market for children's and young people's books is a veritable juggernaut, with entire sections of bookshops given over to an ever-growing lineup of classics, new works, and classics-in-the-making. New parents rediscover old favourites, even as their own kids make their own way into the world of literature.
But Alison Lester, another patron saint of Australian kids' books, also remembers a time when the pool was much smaller.
"I walk into a bookshop now and think my god, look at all these books! Where do they come from?" she says.
Her first picture book, Clive Eats Alligators, also came out in 1985, and she's since published another 24, as well as two young adult novels.
Most of her books are considered classics, and despite being unmistakably Australian, many have been translated into several languages.
"One of the funniest things that I ever heard about one of my translations in those Clive Eats Alligators books," she says.
"There's a picture of [horse-mad character] Rosie asleep in her double bunk and she's got her show ribbons pinned on the wall, and one says 'The Foster Pony Club Gymkhana', meaning Foster, the town I grew up in.
"But the German translator didn't realise there was a town called Foster, and they thought it meant foster home, so the translation says 'the show for the ponies from the animal shelter'."
Now in her 60s and a grandmother, Lester agrees with Paul Jennings - in his 70s and a father of six - that writing books for children doesn't get easier.
In fact, it's far harder than many people imagine. Fewer words on fewer pages means more impetus to get it right.
"I absolutely love it, but it's a lot of work just honing it down, polishing that text until you've pared it down to that absolute bare minimum, and made every word as good as it can be," she says.
Jennings says he chuckles when he hears of yet another adult author talking about making a quick buck by churning out a kids' book in his or her spare time.
"Then they find it's not as easy as they think, and I always say, maybe tongue in cheek, they're easier to read but harder to write," he says.
But in fact, more than just the words on the page and the shape of the stories, it's important to be thinking of the reader's mind - in his case, older children discovering chapter books.
"The big thing at that age is to get them to like reading and to like books, and to make it pleasurable and to make it relevant, and to get into their world," he says.
"When people say they really loved them, I really do appreciate that, but that was my goal because I had been a teacher of children with various disabilities and problems for quite a few years, and kids with reading problems was a special interest for me.
"I did really start because I wanted to write something that would hook them in, and not seem childish, or too young for them and so insult them.
"Basically, with children, if they don't like doing something, it's really hard to make them, and if they love it, it's hard to stop them," he says.
Lester, on the other hand, is mainly known in the realm of picture books, loved by children and, crucially, read aloud by parents.
It's something that's always in the back of her mind when testing the cadence of the words on the page.
"I guess I don't think that with the novels, but when I'm doing picture books, I was walking the other day and saying a whole book aloud to myself, just to hear how it feels," she says.
"I love kids in grade one, they're just my favourite. Whenever I talk to those kids, I say this is the best year, it's not going to get any better than this.
"They're always fabulous, they're at that age when they're really happy to draw, and they haven't got self-conscious about it, so they're really enthusiastic and just such fun little kids to be with."
Leigh Hobbs, the current star of the world of kids books and Australian Children's Laureate for 2016-17 with 23 picture books and counting, has a much more complicated relationship with his readers, children and parents alike.
What's wonderful about children is if you engage them on the front page, the first page, they will follow you anywhere. And I find that quite affecting.Leigh Hobbs
His is characterised by reverence on his part, and a kind of awed trust on the part of the kids.
He has no children of his own - just nieces and nephews - is avoids reading new work aloud to its intended audience.
"I write them in my head in my studio, and with my publisher, but then there's sort of a gap when they come out and land in a kid's lap," he says.
"It's a bit confronting reading to a kid, and I don't enjoy it. I like that there's a bit of distance between me working on a book, and broadcasting it to a kid. I don't need to do that, someone else can do it."
Put simply, he says, kids are a tough crowd.
"They're either engaged or they're not, and it's confronting," he says.
And he can't even begin to understand the appeal of his characters, preferring to accept the mystery of the way young brains work. Horrible Harriet, Old Tom and, in particular, his Mr Chicken, all have lives of their own off the page and in the minds of his readers.
Which, he says, is insane, given that his most popular character is, to all intents and purposes, a giant and looming yellow chicken who likes to take part in everyday life.
Whether he's ambling through the tourist traps of Paris, to wreaking havoc in the attic bedroom of Horrible Harriet, Mr Chicken is one of the most recognisable figures in today's kids' books.
But is he a metaphor for something? It doesn't matter, says Hobbs. He can be anything the kids want him to be, and that's the point.
"I remember what it was like being a child, but my memories have been tempered by 60 years since of life, and growing up, so I don't pretend that I know how a child thinks," he says.
"But out of all the characters that I've written, the appeal of Mr Chicken to children is the most mysterious, because I don't say that he's a chicken, I just say his name is Mr Chicken, and I present him - this is what he looks like.
"In the hundreds and hundreds of kids I would have met here and everywhere, I've never had a kid say he doesn't look like a chicken, whereas adults will say that.
"What's wonderful about children is if you engage them on the front page, the first page, they will follow you anywhere. And I find that quite affecting.
"That to me is the wonderful thing about writing for children, there's an element of trust."
But while Lester writes many of books in lyrical language, and some in verse, and Jennings has tried hard, in his work for younger kids, to keep his work accessible, with "strong plot and simple prose", Hobbs makes a point of writing in an adult voice.
"I think part of the humour is the fact that it's an adult speaking to the children in the text, but the pictures are so ludicrous - this weird looking big yellow thing, sharing a child's lunch box at school," he says.
"I do that because that's how I think, and also I'm aware that more often than not, it's an adult reading the books.
"If I was an adult reading a children's book to a child and it was written in childlike language, it would drive me insane, whereas if a grown-up reads this book, it's in their voice.
"That's part of the appeal - it's a grown-up speaking to them about this ridiculous thing."