Archive | March 15, 2022

The Ugliest Dog in the World 30th Anniversary Edition

The Ugliest Dog in the World

The Ugliest Dog in the World













The Ugliest Dog in the World 30th Anniversary Edition

Bruce Whatley

HarperCollins. 2022

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


As the clock ticks around, and pages are pulled off the calendar, it seems no time at all when a favourite that surely was just released yesterday, celebrates an important anniversary.  Last week it was the 120th anniversary of Peter Rabbit, this time it’s Bruce Whatley’s The Ugliest Dog in the World. Surely it’s not 30 years since I first heard the hoot of children’s laughter as they pored over the hilarious text and illustrations in this classic! I particularly remember the kids labelling the “lady next door” as Ms …  (a colleague) “because she looks just like her!” Out of the mouths of babes, and, in this case, some things can’t be unheard – even 30 years on.

This is the perfect book for teaching this generation about ‘beauty being in the eye of the beholder”, that everyone views the same thing differently, and that body image really doesn’t matter.  And even if the dog doesn’t meet the standards for Crufts, it still brings love and joy to its owner and that’s all that matters. 

Only the best books endure, and this is one of those.



An Amazing Australian Road Trip

An Amazing Australian Road Trip

An Amazing Australian Road Trip











An Amazing Australian Road Trip

Jackie Hosking

Lesley Vamos

Walker Books, 2022 

40pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


We’re travelling from Melbourne on a birthday trip west, our aunty is sixty and we’re off on a quest

She’s keen for a picnic and fancies a view, a cake and a loud “Happy Birthday to You!”

So off they go with their 4WD loaded to the hilt, the most magnificent birthday cake taking pride of place on the roof rack.  But despite circumnavigating the country, including Tasmania, and visiting significant scenic and cultural attractions  in each state and territory, Aunty cannot find the perfect picnic spot until…

In my review of Ancient Wonders  I suggested that families could use it as an opportunity to plan a journey (or two or three) to discover the remarkable land shapes and landscapes that are our own backyard, and here it has been laid out already.  Iconic destinations such as The Twelve Apostles, Coober Pedy, Port Arthur, Kakadu, Uluru, Canberra and others have all been included in this itinerary and as well as the ongoing story of Aunty’s objections (and the very fitting ending), there are also factual notes about the significance of each.  The maps on the endpages summarise the journey so well – and any adult sharing  the story will empathise. 

So the challenge to set students, having the model in front of them, is to create a new itinerary that the family could try foe when Aunty is 65!  Differentiate the task by setting it up as either Australia-wide, state-wide or even just town-wide… what places would be perfect for a picnic celebration and why?  Even though our national borders are opening up, there is still so much to see and do in our own country.  By sharing their plans, students may discover new places in their own back yard! 

To me, the best picture books are those that set the reader up for further journeys (both literally and figuratively), that have layers for them to explore and build their understandings on, those that educate as well as entertain.  This is definitely one of those and an essential addition to any collection focused on Australia’s geography.