Top Koala

Top Koala

Top Koala











Top Koala

Jackie French

Matt Shanks

Angus&Robertson, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


I am top of every tree!

Top is always best to be.

Having convinced us he is not a bear,  Koala is determined to show us that he is at the top of everything because “top” means “best” and that will always, absolutely be him. In this charming, rhyming tale French and Shanks unite again to take the reader on a journey around Australia’s iconic sights introducing our unique fauna as Koala is intent on achieving his goal to be the top of everyone and everything

But at what cost? Because as Koala shinnies to the top of trees, masts, poles and people he is oblivious to the reactions of those he steps on as he goes – their expression perfectly caught in Shanks’s illustrations and suggesting that Koala might get to the top but there might not be too many willing support him once he is there.  Sound familiar? 

With the devastation of our wildlife during this terrifying bushfire season making headlines around the world and the koala being the “poster child” for the campaigns, on the surface this is a lovely book to introduce our youngest readers to the diversity of our wildlife and the impact that nature and humans  can have on their habitats, but, as with all books written by this brilliant author, there is something deeper to discuss with our older students too.  What are the qualities of a true leader?

I had to wait for my copy of this book because it sold out immediately, and I was disappointed, But given the events of this summer I’m glad I had to wait because it now has a much more prominent and  poignant place in our children’s literature story. 

Christmas Wonder

Christmas Wonder

Christmas Wonder










Christmas Wonder

Vicki Conley

Cheryl Orsini

Affirm Press, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Christmas time,

Seven sleeps.

Busy house

Tummy leaps.

In a series of eight-word rhymes, the magic and excitement of the countdown to Christmas in Australia is captured in this charmingly illustrated book.  Embracing all the familiar things that families do at this time, combining the traditional with the contemporary, young readers will enjoy spotting their family in the illustrations while talking about what’s happening and sharing their stories of what they do that is similar as well as what they do that is a bit different. It’s a great opportunity to broaden understanding and share diverse perspectives – there are few who don’t celebrate Christmas, even if they do it differently. 

In a storyworld with many Christmas-themed books to choose from, it is refreshing to have a new story that has some depth, reflects who its readers are and what they do while not making them caricatures of all that is “ocker”, and opens up the opportunity to explore and explain.  

Don’t tickle the hippo!

Don't tickle the hippo!

Don’t tickle the hippo!









Don’t tickle the hippo!

Sam Taplin

 Ana Martin Larranaga

Usborne, 2019

10pp., board book, RRP $A24.99


“Don’t tickle the hippo – you might make it snort!”  But, of course with its touchy-feely patch being too tempting to leave alone, the littlest reader is going to tickle it – and won’t they get a surprise when they do (if the adult has turned on the switch for the sound effects!). 

This is another series in this new generation of board books that invites the child to interact with the text and the illustrations, to find the fun in the print medium and start to build up an expectation that stories are fun, that they have a part to play in making them come alive and they have the power to do so.  Each creature makes its own sound when the patches are felt and the cacophony at the end of the book makes for a satisfying conclusion.  

It will become a firm favourite bound to generate a thousand giggles as the child is in control. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas Eve

The Very Hungry Caterpillar's Christmas Eve

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas Eve









The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Christmas Eve

Eric Carle

Picture Puffin, 2019

12pp., board book, RRP $A12.99


It’s a cold, snowy Christmas Eve and everyone is at home waiting for a special visitor…

Little ones will adore this new story featuring the Very Hungry Caterpillar as they lift the flaps to discover who is hiding behind.  With its northern hemisphere focus  offering the opportunity to talk about why Christmas is so different from here, they will enjoy searching for the VHC because although he doesn’t play an active role in the story, he does appear on each page sharing the precepts of the Christmas season in simple text and classic Carle illustrations which will help focus their thinking to predict the story and who might be hiding. 

A favourite friend in a familiar setting and a recognisable author – has to be a Christmas stocking winner.



Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)











Gregory Goose is on the Loose! (series)

In the Jungle


On the Moon 


Hilary Robinson

Many Stanley

Catch A Star, 2019

20pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

Gregory Goose is very curious and this new series from Catch A Star encourages our youngest readers to examine each bright, detailed double-spread very carefully to find him in amongst the other creatures and characters. Apart from being an interactive activity for our youngest readers, it also helps develop their visual acuity, honing their eye for detail, an essential early reading skill as they learn to distinguish letters and words.

With the advent of handheld screens with so much activity and interactivity, young readers expect to be engaged with their entertainment rather than passive recipients, so books like this are an essential part of their library if they are to become independent readers – knowing that books and stories have something to offer them and can be fun and they can go back time and time again and discover something new without adult help builds a solid foundation of expectation and a sense of mastery that is crucial.  There is much more learning being done here than finding out about jungle creatures and space transport.

Let’s Go! (series)

Let's Go!

Let’s Go!









Let’s Go!

On a Rocket


On a Ferry


On a Train


Catch A Star, 2019

16pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

This new series of books created for our very youngest readers reflects a new approach that has been emerging in hoard books recently – that of real stories that engage, entertain and even educate our littlies as, at last, the importance of having quality stories for this age group is recognised.  There has been so much research into how critical reading to the very young from birth released, that those who create for this age are providing more than one-word concept books and the understanding about how print and stories work combined with actually holding the book for themselves is doing so much for early literacy development.  Young readers are demanding stories that relate to them, have context and meaning that is familiar and a physical product that requires input from them rather than being passive recipients,  

So kudos to the publishers  for recognising that our youngest generation need and deserve quality stories that are as entertaining as any screen device placed in front of them. 

This particular series focuses on two children enjoying rides on a variety of transport. Familiar topics, catchy rhymes and colourful illustrations not only make for an enjoyable read that they will be able to retell themselves endlessly, but also promote what can be expected from story books. Perfect for little hands and the Christmas stocking. 

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

All Bodies Are Good Bodies

All Bodies Are Good Bodies










All Bodies Are Good Bodies

Charlotte Barkla

Erica Salcedo

Little Hare, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


I love hands!
Hands that are white and hands that are brown,
Freckles mean sunshine has sent kisses down.
Short fingers, long fingers, bendy or straight,
Hands to clap, or high-five your mate.

Even though the human body comprises the same elements, each is unique. No two are the same unless you are an identical twin.  In this superbly illustrated book, each body part such as hands, hair, eyes and even tummies is featured while those characteristics which make them unique are celebrated.  It doesn’t matter if your nose is long and thin or short and flat or even turned up like a pussycat, we each have one and each does its special job.

With its bouncy rhyme and positive message about accepting the diversity and differences which make each of us special, it actively promotes the acceptance of the body regardless of shape, colour, or size so that we appreciate our individuality and are inclusive in our choices. When even our youngest readers are aware of their physical appearance these days and start to develop their relationship with their body, this is a critical message that encourages the positive mental health mindset so essential to developing resilience and empathy and offering lots of scope to collect and interpret data as the children compare and contrast their differences. 


Pea + Nut

Pea + Nut

Pea + Nut










Pea + Nut

Matt Stanton

ABC Books, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99


Pea the panda and Nut the flamingo are best friends but they are also great rivals.  Anything Pea can do, the boastful Nut can do better!! So when Pea decides to make a cake, and Nut decides to make it a baking competition, there is a contest worthy of any seen in the showstopper category of The Great Australian Bake-Off!

Nut is convinced that  his cake will win while Pea’s will be put in the bin and driven by his ego (and a few mind-games from Pea) Nut begins “a complex production of layers and towers and major construction.” Will he create a cake  that meets his ambition and expectations? Or will Pea’s slow but steady approach take the cake?

Most readers will know that if it is a Matt Stanton book, it will be funny and this is no exception.  The rhyming text, the vibrant, action-packed illustrations and a concept that will appeal to younger readers combine to make this one of his best, and it is just the first in the series for these two oddball friends. But like all top-shelf picture books there is so much more than the story on the page – it screams out for experimentation in baking and stacking shapes; the contrast between the friends’ approach and how Stanton portrays this can teach little ones about characterisation and the need to look deeply at the detail; and there is also a comparison to be made with The Hare and the Tortoise and the lessons that offers.. Children can also ponder Pea’s final gesture – is this what they expected?

A great read for all ages.


Midnight Ninja

Midnight Ninja

Midnight Ninja








Midnight Ninja

Sam Lloyd

Bloomsbury, 2019

32pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Meet this little boy and his pussycat called Ginger.
He’s got a great big secret. At bedtime he’s the might MIDNIGHT NINJA!

When the emergency bell sounds, he springs out of bed and is off to find and fight the baddies! Tonight’s mystery is socks going missing from clotheslines everywhere and so, using his teleporter he’s off on his mission.  What he discovers is quite surprising and he finds himself in BIG trouble.  But it’s his trusty cat Ginger who comes to the rescue and between them, they not only retrieve all the missing socks but solve the problem so they won’t need to be taken again.

This is an action-packed story that will appeal to young readers, particularly boys who will see themselves in the role of the hero and delight in using all the weapons , Written in rhyme, it bounces along at a great pace with intriguing, detailed illustrations that complement the text and set the imagination running!

A great bedtime story for little lads and lasses who can drift off to sleep dreaming that they are also Midnight Ninjas.


A Banana is a Banana

A Banana is a Banana

A Banana is a Banana









A Banana is a Banana

Justine Clarke & Josh Pyke

Heath McKenzie

Puffin, 2019

24pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Kids love singalongs and the sillier the lyrics, the more they engage and sing with enthusiasm. So when you get a song that includes lines like

If an eggplant really grew eggs, chickens would be out of a job.

If a catfish was really made of cats, then it might get chased by a dog.

And a banana is a banana. That’s what it’s called, I don’t know why.

then it’s likely you are going to have them joining in and appreciating our language and its weird meanings. In fact, older students might even be able to contribute tier own lines to make up a new verse!

Heath McKenzie’s illustrations enhance the quirkiness of the words and all in all, this is just a fun book to share.