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  • Published: 31 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781761041556
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $16.99

The What on Earth Institute of Wonder

A mind-boggling expedition into the secrets of the Animal Kingdom with only an invisible map of the human heart as a guide. (Unless, of course, you count the talking parrot.) What on Earth could possibly go wrong…?

Sal has always had an affinity with animals – especially the lost kind. But when two rare and endangered creatures appear out of nowhere, life takes a detour into strange and uncharted territory...

One elephant, one kakapo, one unlicensed teenage driver, one boy waiting for the world to end and a twelve-year-old girl with a very special gift.

  • Published: 31 August 2021
  • ISBN: 9781761041556
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $16.99

About the author

Lisa Nicol

Lisa Nicol is an Australian author and sometimes documentary-maker. Her feature Wide Open Sky about a children’s choir in far west NSW won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival and screened in cinemas and festivals around the world. Her first novel for children, Dr Boogaloo and The Girl Who Lost Her Laughter, was a CBCA Notable and is currently being adapted for the screen as a musical. Her second novel Vincent and The Grandest Hotel on Earth was published internationally to much acclaim. Lisa lives on the east coast of Australia with two out of her three children and a dusty old dog who smells worse than an elephant fart.

Also by Lisa Nicol

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Praise for The What on Earth Institute of Wonder

I could not love this book any more! @lisanicolauthor has once again blown our minds with a story so fabulously bonkers and so beautifully written that I had to just lie in a dark room for a good while and appreciate what I had just read….. definitely in the running for one of my favourite books of the year!

Rachel Robson, Children’s literacy specialist,, Gleebooks

Charming and surprising and mysterious and whacky. It hooked me from the beginning… One of those books you just put down and sigh with satisfaction.

Pamela Ueckerman, Middlegrade Mavens Podcast, Episode 98

From the moment I began to read this middle grade, speculative fiction novel, I knew it was a goodie… It will make readers smile, yearn, feel sad and most of all wonder... A quirky, heartfelt, unique story of friendship, family and conviction that is sure to be eaten up by kids aged 9-13.

Renee Mihulka, CBCA’s Reading time

… Her writing wraps around me like a warm doona and I slip immediately back into my childhood … I have to say, Lisa Nicol does not get nearly as many song dedications and street parades as she deserves.

Nat Amoore, One More Page Podcast, Episode 62

Lisa Nicol’s whimsical way with words is becoming the stuff of legend. Her narratives are an intoxicating mix of wonderment, cheek and incredible heart; a strange combination but one that makes her middle grade novels fulfilling and memorable. The What on Earth Institute of Wonder perpetuates this premise while managing to incorporate an African forest elephant and a New Zealand Kakapo into the same sentence, never mind the same Kombi van!

Dimity Powell, Dim’s Write Stuff

Awards & recognition

Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards

Shortlisted  •  2022  •  8–10 Years

Discover more

The song behind The What On Earth Institute of Wonder, by Lisa Nicol

Light-emitting Mushrooms and the High Priestess of Soul; The song behind The What On Earth Institute of Wonder.