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.

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.


Yellow Truck Road Train

Yellow Truck Road Train

Yellow Truck Road Train









Yellow Truck Road Train

Mandy Tootell

A & U Children’s, 2020

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


Distances are huge and roads are long in the Northern Territory and so are the trucks that travel them. Yellow Truck Road Train is just one of the vehicles that transport stock and freight across the landscape during the dry season and this book by a truckie’s wife not only gives an insight into that life but celebrates it.

Being the wife of a truckie, I appreciate the story of the drive, its ups and downs, its friendships and loneliness but I must confess it puts the trips hubby makes on the east coast into perspective for distance! Young readers aspiring to make the highway their home will enjoy the uniquely Australian aspects of this book and the h-u-g-e fold out at the end showing the anatomy of a 6-deck road train including a Kenworth T904 prime mover will fascinate them. Trucker language is also unique but there is a glossary to help out.

One to add to your Australia: Story Country collection to entice young lads, particularly, to read. 


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.

Embrace Your Body

Embrace Your Body

Embrace Your Body











Embrace Your Body

Taryn Brumfitt

Sinead Hanley

Puffin, 2020

24pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


There is something scary in the statistic that 70% of primary school children have a concern about their body image, and when this is coupled with the greatest desire of post-restriction Australia is for beauty salons and gyms to re-open, it is easy to see why and that without intervention, this obsession with how we look is not going to change. From long before the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe to waif-like Twiggy to the more-rounded Kardashians, our obsession with how our bodies look rather than how they perform has dominated so many lives, and this is as true for our males as it is for females.  How many young lads see themselves in the image of a Hemsworth?

In 2016 Taryn Brumfitt wrote and directed a documentary Embrace which encouraged us to love who we are as we are, but that doco received a MA15+ classification and so did not reach down to the roots of where the obsession starts.

So now she is addressing this with the establishment of a number of initiatives that speak directly to our children including another documentary , a song and, based on that song, this book. Based on the mantra that “your body is not an ornament:it is the vehicle to your dreams!”. children of every size, shape, colour and ability are engaged in all sorts of activities  showing the extraordinary things our bodies can do proving that nobody has a body that is the same as anyone else’s and that it is capable of so much more than conforming to some arbitrary stereotyped look.

This book has an important role in the conversations and investigations we have with our youngest students and not just in the health and mindfulness programs we offer. Because we are all individuals it opens up the world of science and maths as we investigate why and how that is, delving into genetics and measurement and a host of other areas that give a deep understanding to the message of the book, including the language we use to describe others. ‘Smart’, ‘clever’, ‘athletic’ are so much better than the pejorative terms of ‘pretty’, ‘handsome’ and ‘strong’.  For if, from an early age, we can grasp that we, as individuals, are a combination of the unique circumstances of both our nature and nurture, then our understanding of and appreciation for who we are is a big step towards valuing the inside regardless of the outside in both ourselves and others. 

It is sad that there is still a need for this sort of book in 2020, just as there was in 1920 and 1960, but if you make and use just one purchase this year, this could be the one that changes lives for the better. 



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.


The New Baby’s Bunny

The New Baby's Bunny

The New Baby’s Bunny









The New Baby’s Bunny

Philippa Brown

Krista Brennan

Little Steps, 2020

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95


Each time a new baby is born into the family, Nanna knits a new baby bunny.  Each is distinct in its colouring and becomes a favourite with the recipient.  But the fourth bunny is a bit different – it has a grey body but no eyes.  Nanna says she can’t decide what colour to use and leaves the task to the family.  Each comes home from the haberdashery shop with their choice of buttons, but will any of them do the job and be perfect?

This is a charming story for young readers that shows an unusual way of having siblings become involved in the birth of a new baby so they feel part of the process.  It offers opportunities for them to talk about special toys and gifts they have received and will perhaps even pass on to their own children.  But it is also a powerful statement about gift-giving – it is not the fanciest, most expensive gift that is necessarily the most treasured.  It is often those made with love and time and a personal connection that stand the test of time. 

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!


No! Never!

No! Never!

No! Never!










No! Never!

Libby Hathorn

Lisa Hathorn-Jarman

Mel Pearce

Lothian Children’s, 2020

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


There was a child,
The sweetest ever,
Until she learned these words:

No matter what activity her parents suggest, including those that have always been her favourites, Georgie’s response is No! Never!  It becomes very frustrating for her parents who are at their wits’ end until they try a little reverse psychology.

Written in clever rhyme that bounces the story along, and illustrated in a way that emphasises the discord in the household because of Georgie’s attitude, this is a book that will resonate with preschoolers who are testing the boundaries and parents who are trying to manage that. While parents might like to use the strategy with their own children, or just remind their children  of what happened to Georgie when their children try a similar tactic. 

A fun, modern cautionary tale that will have broad appeal.

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…