Bluey: All About …

Bluey: All About ...

Bluey: All About …










Bluey: All About …





Puffin, 2020

12pp., board books, RRP $A14.99

Bluey is a six-year-old blue heeler pup who loves to play. Along with her friends and family, Bluey enjoys exploring the world and using her imagination to turn everyday life into an amazing adventure. Based on the Australian children’s television program that is so popular on ABC Kids , the adventures continue in print format enabling our youngest readers to extend their fun while appreciating the joy of stories. They can also get creative with the activities from the ABC. 

Now these two books add another dimension to the characters by offering a behind-the-scenes look at their lives and loves, thus introducing the concept of characterisation to our youngest readers. Both Bluey and Bingo have their own stories beyond their two-dimensional screen portrayals. Using such familiar faces to not only develop concepts about print and early reading behaviours but also to sow the seeds of literary appreciation is the perfect way to start developing an understanding about how quality stories are built and why certain characters stay with us for a long time.  I know friends with young children have been known to ask, “What would Bluey do?” when their children have been faced with a dilemma!

To take the power and impact of the books a step further, children might like to do a shape book of themselves, sharing their likes and dislikes so they can start to see that they, too, are made of many different layers. Then, if they share their books with their friends, they can begin to understand that each is unique with many similarities while still being different and that just adds to the reasons  they like each other.

Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Peril at Lizard Lake

Peril at Lizard Lake

Peril at Lizard Lake










Fabio the World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Peril at Lizard Lake

Laura James

Emily Fox

Bloomsbury, 2020

128pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


In a small town on the banks of Lake Laloozee lives Fabio, the world’s greatest flamingo detective. He’s not tall or strong, but slight and pink. And he’s very, very clever …

Most of the time. But when an unusual lapse of judgement leads Fabio to accept a ride in his associate Gilbert’s plane, little does he know he’ll be nose-diving into a new mystery!

When the tiny plane crash-lands near a remote village in the savannah, all Fabio wants is a pink lemonade to calm his nerves. But the town well has dried up, and the water didn’t just disappear on its own! Fabio’s on the case, and it’s going to take a daring sting operation to set things right.

With its hot pink and citrus yellow colour scheme in both the illustrations and pages, this is a  series that will appeal to newly independent readers who like something a bit wacky in their reading diet. Flamingoes are up there with unicorns on the popularity charts right now, so for that reason alone it will be appealing  but as the third in the series, it offers more than just offbeat characters with  a mystery to solve through an engaging storyline while still supporting readers who are transitioning to the complexity of novels. 

Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a Brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire

Tippy and Jellybean

Tippy and Jellybean










Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a Brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire

Sophie Cunningham

Anil Tortop

Albert Street Books, 2020

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


Tippy and Jellybean live in the beautiful eucalypt forests bordering Australia’s high country in Victoria. Life is as it should be for mum and bub until one day in Summer 2019 just as it is turning over to 2020, they wake to smell smoke on the hot, windy air. While the kangaroos and wallabies bound away, the wombats crawl deep into their burrows and the cockatoos take off in noisy flight, Tippy and Jellybean can do none of those things.  As koalas, their only sanctuary is to climb to the top of the tree and hope they will be safe from the fire dragon that is on the warpath.

Curling herself around Jellybean, Tippy protects her baby from the flames even though she herself is burned…

Amidst the horror that was the summer of 2019-2020 , one of the enduring stories for our young readers is that of the impact on the wildlife. So to have this charming true story that not only tells of Tippy and Jellybean’s recovery but also of the dedication and expertise of veterinary professionals to preserving what they can offers a feel-good followup that will go a long way to helping the children heal too. And we are desperately in need of feel-good stories right now.

As fate would have it, Gelantipy was on my list of go-to places after having seen a documentary about in on ABC Back Roads, (it’s a comfortable drive from here) and we had a trip planned, but the fires beat us to it. Then we ourselves had to evacuate… So to know that there is a happy news story, the words interpreted in gentle, non-threatening illustrations by Anil Tortop, and that this is just one of so many creatures saved and treated by carers (many volunteers, some from overseas) strengthens my desire to explore this area as soon as.

To show our young readers that there can be happy endings, that in a time that seems so relentlessly harsh and tough there can be hope and help on the other side, and that Mother Nature can rise up no matter how beaten she is is what our students who have endured the fires, both first-hand and vicariously need right now.  Reassurance can sometimes be the greatest gift and this book provides that.

Dedicated to all the creatures that were not as lucky as Tippy and Jellybean, the publisher will donate $1 from every copy sold of this book to the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund, to help fund emergency veterinary assistance and scientific intervention.

Let’s Go! On a Tractor

Let's Go! On a Tractor

Let’s Go! On a Tractor









Let’s Go! On a Tractor

Rosalyn Albert

Natalia Moore

Catch A Star, 2020

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


Let’s go on a tractor
All around the farm
Past the duck pond, through the fields
Behind the big red barn.

This is a new addition to the Let’s Go series, this one taking our youngest readers around the farm on a tractor. 

The 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. It also helps build vocabulary as not all will be familiar with farm life, riding a train or a ferry, or travelling on a rocket so when they encounter other books with those sorts of settings, they are able to bring their knowledge to the page, predict what they will see and what might happen, as well as being in a better position to get their mouth ready for unknown words.

We should never underestimate the role that these sorts of readers have in our children’s literacy as they develop those early concepts about print, and by using sturdy, durable board books we can start that process earlier and earlier. This is just one of a number of series from this publisher that is bringing quality stories to our e=youngest readers.

Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue

Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue

Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue










Eco Rangers: Wildfire Rescue

Candice Lemon-Scott

New Frontier, 2020

112pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


Best friends Ebony and Jay are the Eco Rangers,. They love helping others and looking after the environment  rescuing and rehabilitating sick and injured wildlife through their local conservation centre. And in this third episode in the series, there’s been a devastating wildfire in the bushland and Ebony and Jay are doing their best to find injured animals. As they rescue a cute little possum with burned paws, they also discover that some people have been camping in the area that was devastated by the fire. What were they doing there? This is a mystery that Ebony and Jay just have to solve.

This is a story that is going to resonate with many of our newly-independent readers who have just endured the most horrific summer and been confronted with the vision of rescued animals from every state. So while the focus for Ebony and Jay is on the possum and what the campers were up to, readers can reassure themselves that like Mira, many animals were saved and their rehabilitation is progressing. 

The fires have put a spotlight on the impact of fire on the animals and so this series is timely for younger readers wanting to know more about the bush and its creatures, perhaps even becoming Eco Rangers themselves.  There are tips at the back for guidance and with Pelican in Peril  shortlisted for the Wilderness Society’s 2020 Environment Award for Children’s Literature , perhaps there will be more in the series. to encourage both reading and conservation.

Where’s Spot?

Where's Spot?

Where’s Spot?









Where’s Spot?

Eric Hill


24pp., hbk., RRP $A16.99


It’s dinner time and Mama Dog is looking for Spot.  Where can he be? Under the rug? Behind the door? Inside the clock? He’s playing hide-and-seek and there are so many places a little puppy can fit into.

As well as having the joy of lifting the flaps to discover Spot’s hiding place, our youngest readers can also have the fun of predicting where he might be and whether he could be in the places Mama looks, at the same time learning important place words like under and behind and so on.

This is the 40th anniversary of the publishing of this first in the series about this little dog and so it is in a stunning ruby foil cover that attracts the eye as much as the illustrations. Judging by the number of requests for Spot-related fabrics and so forth on a FB group I belong to, this little fellow is as popular as he was when he was first introduced all those years ago. And given the stories have sold 65 million copies in over 60 languages, his appeal is universal.

To add to the delight, there are activities to be done so children can party at home with Spot during these shut-down times, and share in this special reading of the story.

Perfect for starting our very youngest on their reading adventures.


Baby Shark: Adventure Down Under

Baby Shark: Adventure Down Under

Baby Shark: Adventure Down Under










Baby Shark: Adventure Down Under

Puffin Books, 2020

24pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


It would seem that the song Baby Shark is the most popular tune our littlest ones have engaged with for a long time, (or the most annoying for the adults in their lives.)

However you view it, this clever rewriting of it which introduces the audience to the sharks seen in Australian waters is quite ingenious. 

Using the same bright illustrative style as the video, but changing the text to phrases such as funny shark, scary shark, even silly shark, young readers are taken on an underwater adventure with some other ocean-dwellers to discover which of these fascinating creatures can be found around our shores. Each double-page spread features a different shark with one side having the song lyrics and the other, a basic fact file.

Our youngest readers will engage with this from the get-go, learning not only about a most-maligned creature but also that information books can be as much fun as a screen. They might even be encouraged to create their own dance moves, just as in the original!

Not surprisingly, as a scuba diver from way back and having had my own adventures with these creatures, I loved it but beware of the ear-worm!


Monkey’s Tail

Monkey's Tail

Monkey’s Tail










Monkey’s Tail

Alex Rance

Shane McG

Allen & Unwin, 2020

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


Howler Monkey loved to climb.  He learned as a baby from his father and he practised and practised until he got so good at it that animals from all over the world would watch him.  But one day he fell and damaged his tail so badly that he could not climb any more. He hid his injury because he was ashamed and scared that his family and friends would not like him because he couldn’t do the one thing that gave them pleasure.  He became so sad that he sought the advice of Oldest Monkey who asked some really pertinent questions that helped Howler Monkey understand that he still had family and friends who loved him, he could still be the role model he was – just in a different way – and that what he did did not define who he was.

Rance, the author, was an elite Australian Rules player for the Richmond Tigers and was a member of the team that won the premiership in 2017, a feat that they hadn’t achieved since 1980. But in 2019 he ruptured his ACL in the first game of the season, ending his playing days for the year, and most likely for ever. These life-changing events have been the inspiration for this series of stories including Tiger’s Roar and Rabbit’s Hop, to help young children deal with the highs and lows of life and understand that why they do things is much more important that what it is they do.  If they understand their motivation, then their actions (whether positive or negative) can be chosen, challenged and changed to suit the circumstances and it is the whole of who they are that defines them, not just one aspect.

Even without knowing the author’s personal story, young readers will appreciate this book and Howler Monkey’s predicament, particularly as they return to school and even to team sports where their lives may have changed considerably post-pandemic. The playing field might now be closer to level.


Do You Love Bugs?

Do You Love Bugs?

Do You Love Bugs?











Do You Love Bugs?

Matt Robertson

Bloomsbury, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A12.99


From an early age many children develop a fear of bugs – perhaps it’s because of their imagining the feel of all those legs crawling over them, or they are warned about being the target of the creature’s defence system.  So in this book with its accessible text, quirky illustrations and engaging layout, Matt Robertson attempts to show that the minibeasts that inhabit both the indoors and outdoors are actually beneficial and essential to both our planet and our well-being. 

Bees, worms, stick insects, grasshoppers, snails, butterflies and moths, ants beetles, even spiders are all put under the microscope and shown through the lens of being critical to the environment and its health.  Robertson has used a clever technique of portraying the critters in cartoon-like style so that they have personality and are not a scary exact likeness, and that coupled with fun facts like snails being deaf and bees communicating by dancing brings each species into focus in a gentle way.

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Before sharing the book, young readers might even like to identify the bugs on the colourful endpapers setting them up ready to learn more about those they know.

Much as I appreciate this approach and the value that bugs add, I’m still not convinced about the usefulness of spiders and flies yet…

Bedtime Daddy

Bedtime Daddy

Bedtime Daddy










Bedtime Daddy

Sharon Giltrow

Katrin Dreiling

 EK Books, 2020

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


It’s 7.00pm and it’s time for bed. No more screentime or playtime and regardless of the protests, it’s time. But it takes perseverance and patience to work through all the diversions and distractions – getting into PJs, teeth brushing,, toilet time, stories and questions, one last drink and the inevitable monsters that need despatching…

Parents and younger readers will really resonate with this story and the beautifully illustrated scenes with lots of detail will be so familiar, but they will also love the twists in the tale that make it stand out from other stories on the topic.

Because it is such a familiar routine, there are lots of opportunities for discussion as young listeners compare, predict, and make connections with their own experiences and those of the characters. However, there are also strong teaching aspects such as time, day and night, moon phases, the need for sleep and so on that offer lots of opportunities for this to be more than a bedtime story with comprehensive teachers’ notes and activities available to assist this. 

As our youngest littlies’ lives start to return to normal and regular routines are reinstated, this has great potential to help them re-establish those as they create sequencing charts that they can follow and tick off each time they are completed.  Parents will love it.