The ABC of Cuddles

The ABC of Cuddles

The ABC of Cuddles











The ABC of Cuddles

Sophy Williams

Gavin Scott

A & U Children’s, 2021

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


A is for airport cuddle, when it’s time to go away.
B is for bear hug, when teddy goes astray.
C is for crying cuddle, a scary ghost went boo!
D is for daddy cuddle, when only Dad will do.

In these times when even the littlest person knows the phrase “social distancing”,  in fact, especially  in these times, the need for and the warmth of a cuddle is paramount.  And in this beautiful book for those littlest learners, cuddles between family members are celebrated in an entire alphabet of reasons. Using a menagerie of animals, Gavin Scott has captured the clever text perfectly making this a lilting lullaby that little people will relate to as they share the joy of contact with those they love, whether there is a reason or not. 

Alphabet books are a common part of a young child’s library and come in many formats, but regardless of whether this is used as a formal educational tool by getting them to suggest other reasons, the language has that connection and cadence that is so important to their literacy learning and the joy of the love that is demonstrated is palpable.

Ideal for giving to new parents to share. 

My Spaghetti ABC

My Spaghetti ABC

My Spaghetti ABC










My Spaghetti ABC

Deborah Niland

Puffin Books, 2021

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


Is there anything more delicious, more fun and more messy than a big bowl of spaghetti with a rich tomato sauce? Spaghetti that can be twisted into glasses, butterflies, a giggly face with wiggly feet and anything else that grabs the imagination?  How about the entire English alphabet?

i love spaghetti with heaps of sauce
and always make a mess, of course!
I use my fork, my spoon, my hands.
It’s so much fun to twirl the strands!

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Perfect for kids (but perhaps not for parents) this is a delightful romp through the messiest, yummiest tea ever that culminates in a four-page spread of just how versatile wriggly spaghetti can be.

And what story about spaghetti would be complete without learning the classic children’s song On Top of Spaghetti?

Just for the joy of it.



The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book











The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian Children’s, 2020

64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


There may be only 26 letters in the alphabet but in this 64 page book there are more than 400 featured as Jennifer Cossins, creator of The Ultimate Animal Counting Book, introduces young readers to some of the creatures that inhabit this planet.  

Some are familiar and some not-so, but each is labelled and many have a sentence or two offering unique information about them which curious readers may wish to explore further. For example, unlike other big cats, snow leopards cannot roar. I wonder why! 



A peek inside....

A peek inside….

This is a dip-and-delve book that just calls for the reader to try to list as many creatures as they know starting with a particular letter before they turn to page to find what Cossins has included (or not)!  Who knew that there were at least 14 that started with Q?  My tally stopped at four – quetzal, quail, quoll and a quokka!

This is the perfect companion to her other offerings, including A-Z of Endangered Animals which was an Honour Book in the CBCA Eve Pownall Awards in 2017 and one that will have young readers poring over the pages as they discover new creatures to add to their knowledge bank. 



Tashi Picture Books

Tashi Picture Books

Tashi Picture Books











Alphabetical Tashi

80pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


My First Tashi Colours 

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


My First Tashi 123

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


Anna & Barbara Fienberg

Kim, Arielle & Greer Gamble

Allen & Unwin, 2020

Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the publication of the original Tashi story, are three early childhood books which introduce the very youngest readers to the characters and settings while also helping with those basic concepts of  number, colours and the alphabet.

Because the original stories are perfect family read-alouds at bedtime, this collection will be ideal for introducing younger readers to that magical world that carries the stories along, or to assist those who are learning English as an additional language to learn the basic words using titles that are not as babyish as more traditional concept board books.  The original stories were illustrated by Kim Gamble, but since his passing his daughters have assumed the mantle and there is a seamless transition between the old and the new bringing the traditional monochromatic drawings to life in vivid colour.

With his own website and television series, Tashi is a perennial favourite who deserves his place in the legends of Australian children’s literature.


A is for Ant

A is for Ant

A is for Ant









A is for Ant

Kate Slater

DK, 2020

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


There has been something of a revolution in board books over recent times. Our youngest readers are now getting interesting stories rather than one-word concept books and now publishers like DK are acknowledging that even at this early age, some are choosing non fiction as their preference. A is for Ant  is the first book in a new alphabet series, each of which looks at a particular animal that begins with that letter as well as features about the creature that reinforce the letter while illustrations bring the world of ants to life, as toddlers learn about ant hills, antennae and more.   Filled with simple, fun facts, A is for Ant provides lots to talk about as they learn how ants work together, what they eat, and where they live. It is cleverly designed to encourage early learners to repeat the fun a-words.

With the competition from screens of all sorts, convincing little ones that books are worthwhile even if they do appear static can be tricky but books such as this which demonstrate they do have something to interest them are a great starting point. Maybe, given the ubiquity of ants, it is time to invest in a magnifying glass to go on an ant hunt and discover more about these creatures, while older siblings could suggest more ‘a’ words to go with those already included. 


The Aussie ABC Christmas

The Aussie ABC Christmas

The Aussie ABC Christmas










The Aussie ABC Christmas

Nancy Bevington

New Frontier, 2018

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


In 1788 when the first wave of immigrants from the northern hemisphere came to Australia, they brought with them the celebrations and their associated traditions as they tried to settle into what was a land that was so different from what they knew, it was beyond their imagination.  Subsequent waves of immigrants have done the same thing and so now, 230 years later, so much of what we see and do at Christmas is still rooted in those wintery northern customs and people still strive to create a winter wonderland in their homes.

Slowly though, there are some uniquely Australian twists that are becoming more widespread and artist Nancy Bevington has captured these in this beautifully illustrated alphabet book.  There are B for beach, I for icecream and P for pavlova, and for those things like gifts, reindeer and Santa which are more universal, each illustration is quirkily Australian.  I can’t decide if my favourite is the emu putting the star at the top of the tree or the kookaburras laughing with joy. 

Young readers will delight in seeing so much that is familiar while those sharing this with them will love the humour in each picture. A treat for an Aussie Christmas stocking this year, and while it might be too late for this year as school is all but over, it would be perfect to stimulate a class display (or library display with each class contributing a letter) for next year, perhaps the reveal of each letter being part of the Christmas Countdown. 

Pups! (series)








Pups! (series)

Sophie Beer

Little Hare, 2018

26pp., board book., RRP $A14.99


Alpha Pups


Pup and Down


Naughty Pups


Rainbow Pups


Little people love puppies ad so this series of board books for the very young reader will delight them. Once they have been shared, the youngest readers will have fun looking at them time and again and telling themselves all that is happening.  

Alpha Pups introduces a wide range of dog species in alphabetical order- some familiar, others not-so, but each in a colorful caricature doing something crazy and unexpected with a familiar object starting with the same letter. Pup and Down explores the concept of opposites. Rainbow Pups introduces colours while Naughty Pups has them trying very hard to be good but not quite succeeding.

The colours, concepts and quirkiness of the illustrations make this a charming new series that will help very little ones start to understand what a book is about. 



Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Let's Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z









Let’s Go ABC! Things That Go, from A to Z

Rhonda Gowler Greene

Daniel Kirk

Bloomsbury, 2018

40pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99


Need to get from here to there?

We can take you – anywhere!

On land or track, in air or sea,

we’re transportation – A to Z.

A cast of quirky animals takes readers for a fun ride on all sorts of vehicles – some familiar, some not-so – in this rollicking rhyme about things that go.  Rather than the typical alphabet book of matching letters and pictures, this one has a rhyme full of information about each vehicle that is presented by the vehicle itself.  Each vehicle is ‘driven’ by a creature whose name starts with the same letter as the transport – the koala and kangaroo are in charge of the kayak – so young readers will have fun, and perhaps be challenged by, naming the drivers (and passengers) while also finding other items beginning with the same letter in the illustrations.  The endpapers are a treat offering the entire alphabet on a large truck so little ones can test their knowledge while the last page is a surprise!

They can begin early classification activities by sorting the vehicles into land, sea or air or even by the way they are propelled. perhaps suggesting others that are not featured in the book.  Or they might start with the creatures they know and make suggestions about the mode of transport they would be in charge of.

Despite its slightly American bias (which most young readers just accept anyway), this is an enjoyable read that will have early readers returning to again and again as not only is there something new to find each time which encourages attention to the detail in the pictures, but it allows them to read it for themselves without an adult present – a critical aspect of early reading behaviour that instils confidence and an expectation of success. 

A book that offers so much more than it first appears – if you have early readers or those learning English as another language, it would be a worthwhile investment.

ABC Mindful Me

ABC Mindful Me

ABC Mindful Me









ABC Mindful Me

Christiane Engel

Quarto US, 2018

36pp., board book, RRP $A19.99


“Being mindful means paying attention to the present moment” and in this book the creator takes a journey through the alphabet stopping at each letter to link it to an activity or concept that will enable younger readers to be more in touch with the here and now and where they are.  

From Awareness to Zen children are encouraged to learn about being physically, mentally and emotionally healthy as they learn how to limit and manage stress and anxiety through rhyming text and bold pictures which feature a diversity of children.  There are also instructions to make some of the suggestions like a thankfulness tree and a mandala.

With mindfulness such a part of the curriculum these days, this could  almost be the basis of a semester’s program as each child creates their own book showing what the concept for each letter means for them.

Little i

Little i

Little i










Little i

Michael Hall

Greenwillow Books, 2017

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


The alphabet letters were quite happy being what they were until one day Little i’s dot fell off.  It rolled down a hill, tumbled over a cliff and splashed into the sea.  Little i felt weird and the other letters felt confused because now Little i looked like a number and you can’t make words with numbers.  

So Little i decided to find his dot and starts off on an adventure that takes him to some interesting places. His question mark boat takes him across the seas until he finds an island that has a remarkable sea passage that passes a spectacular exclamation point waterfall, through the cold dark parenthesis tunnel (with asterisk gems), through the field of lovely comma sprouts, across the spine-chilling hyphen bridge to the very edge of the land where his dot completes his journey like a full stop at the end of a sentence.  But when Little i puts his dot back on he feels strange, setting his quest and his story up for an imaginative and fun end.

With bold shapes and colours, this is one of those books that seems really simple on the surface but then you wonder what sort of mind could make such a story. But then he did write Red, A Crayon’s Story.  Not only is it clever it is brilliant, so rich in so much for the very young reader. Little i feels incomplete without his dot and that he doesn’t really belong in the alphabet, just as some children feel adrift if they haven’t got their mum, a special friend or a favourite toy by their side and so talking about Little i’s story may help them realise that they can not only survive without that security blanket but be even better for being brave enough to leave it behind.  Self-confidence in who we are is such a critical part of growing up.

It is also wonderful for those who are just beginning to understand that words are constructed from letters – Hall shows this by having the letters in the words do their talking; distinguishing between letters and numerals; and maybe starting to wonder what the other marks on the page are. There is a myriad of talking and teaching opportunities as the children demonstrate their knowledge of those initial concepts about print that are part of early kindergarten assessments.  Yet, whatever level the child is at for looking at the technicalities and tools of language, overall and throughout there is an engaging story and a satisfying finish which have to be at the core of anything we share with little ones if they are to love stories and reading and all that they offer.

If this were Australian, I’d be looking for it during Awards Season 2018!