Children’s Book Assessments

Aleesah Darlison


Full Price: $135
Member Price: $100

Do you need expert insight to help your picture book or early reader manuscript reach its full potential?

What should I expect?

In a 30-minute session, our industry expert will work with you to help your manuscript reach its full potential.  Feedback may include discussions on voice, plot, characterisation, language, readability and/or writing techniques.

You will receive a brief written summary of the assessor’s key feedback points; however, you will not receive edits on your manuscript submission. This one-on-one meeting is a chance to discuss issues and potential solutions, and to ask questions. Please note, if you have illustrations, they may be brought on the day. The assessment focus is your text, though the assessor can discuss visual elements and integration of illustration and text, time permitting.

All of our assessments are carried out via Zoom or a phone call.

Is my manuscript eligible?

These assessments are for picture books or chapter books for readers up to eight years old (under 20,000 words). If you are writing a manuscript for junior fiction/middle grade readers (approximately ages 8 to 12) or young adults, please see our young adult assessments.

Next dates:

  • Thursday 23 February 2023 with Katrina McKelvey – sold out!
  • Thursday 22 June 2023 with Aleesah Darlison – open for bookings!
  • If this date doesn’t work for you, Join the waitlist for future Children’s Book Manuscript Assessments


During our session, Aleesah was very positive and relatable. Her advice was constructive and purposeful, just as I was hoping. The report is full of great tips and helpful suggestions for potential improvements to my script. This was my first experience of professional assessment and I found it was very worthwhile. I will be sure to follow up on Aleesah’s advice. – Carmel

My experience with Aleesah was amazing … she was very friendly and generous with her notes, and I gained a lot of insights on what publishers are looking for and detailed advice on how to improve my manuscript. … It was just great to be able to have a productive conversation about my manuscript and share our mutual love for books and writing. I really value all the feedback I received and it has inspired me to keep going! – Aphrodite

Leonie’s feedback was extremely valuable…She was also very affirming. – Clare

Leonie’s constructive criticism and rigorous assessment of ‘The Dragon and The Little Boy’ has motivated me to do a complete rewrite of the story. – Louise

My picture book manuscript assessment with Aleesah was incredibly informative! Her feedback was thorough and insightful. I learnt so much … I would highly recommend this service and will definitely be coming back again. – Kim

Aleesah gave generously of her knowledge and I learned a great deal from her comments on my work. She gave excellent value in the time we had together. – Robyn

Katrina McKelvey provided a brilliantly concise assessment with plenty of helpful suggestions. Katrina felt my manuscript was close to being ready to submit, it just needed a few minor tweaks. It was the best manuscript assessment I’ve experienced in my journey so far. Thank you, Katrina and Writers Centre NSW.  – Bernice

Submission requirements

You will need to provide the following at least 10 days before your assessment:

  • Picture book or chapter book text, up to 1000 words*

*Please note that if your manuscript excerpt exceeds the word limit, it will be truncated at 1000 words before being forwarded to the assessor. Please respect the time the assessor is dedicating to reading your work by sticking to the industry standard formatting and word limit. Thank you.

Submitting your work

Once you have made your appointment, you will need to your submission at least 10 days before your assessment as one document in MS Word format. Your document must be formatted to industry standards, as follows:

  • Line spacing: 1.5 or double
  • Font: Times New Roman
  • Size: 12 pt
  • Margins: minimum 3 cm all round (Word default margins are fine)
  • Text should be range left (which means the right edge is ‘ragged’), not justified
  • Page numbers: consecutive from beginning to end

You can submit your document via our submission form.

Please note, if your materials are not submitted at least 10 days before your assessment, we cannot guarantee your assessor will have time to review them before your appointment.

Our assessors

Aleesah Darlison writes picture books, chapter books, novels and series for children. She has won several awards for her writing and has had numerous short stories, articles and book reviews published across various mediums. Aleesah’s picture books include Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild ThylacineMama & HugEmerald: The Green Turtle’s TaleFox and MoonbeamPuggle’s Problem, Our Class Tiger (2015 Wilderness Society Award Winner, Non-Fiction), and Warambi (2012 CBCA Notable Book Non-Fiction; 2012 Wilderness Society Award for Children’s Literature Shortlist). Her novels and series include Ash RoverLittle Good Wolf, Running from the Tiger, the Totally Twins Series, the Little Witch Series, the Netball Gems Series and the Unicorn Riders Series. Aleesah travels across Australia and internationally teaching creative writing and the power and value of the written word. Visit

Leonie Tyle is a former children’s book and YA publisher for UQP and Random House.

Katrina McKelvey is a children’s author, former primary school teacher, and wife and mother living in Newcastle, NSW. She’s highly involved in CBCA, SCBWI, Littlescribe, community events, literary conferences and festivals, and loves visiting schools. She’s written many children’s picture books and educational readers including her new titles, Mila and Ivy and three Healthy Harold big books for the newly released Life Education Australia Early Years program. Other much loved books include Isla’s Family Tree, Chasing Rainbows, No Baths Week and Up To Something. Katrina’s left-handed, loves tea, scary movies and rollercoasters, and is addicted to mint chocolate. When she was little, a hot air balloon accidentally landed in her backyard.

Cancellation Policy

Your enrolment is non-refundable. If you should wish to withdraw from a manuscript assessment, you must inform Writing NSW at least fourteen days in advance of the assessment to receive a full credit. Withdrawals up to seven days prior to the assessment will be eligible for a 50% credit. Withdrawals in the week prior to the assessment are ineligible for credit.

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