My Australia

My Australia

My Australia







My Australia

Julie Murphy

Garry Fleming

NLA Publishing, 2018

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


Over a century ago Dorothea Mackellar wrote her iconic poem My Country and shared the beauty of Australia’s diverse landscape as she wrote about the amazing contrasts that make it unique.  Now Julie Murphy has used a similar theme to share her interpretation of its remarkable environments and habitats from the “wild wind-carved mountains” to the “white salty foam.” 

But this version is not a collection of words to be memorised and analysed and trotted out in response to literature assignments – this is a journey around and across this country that is lavishly illustrated in almost photo-like style by wildlife artist Garry Flemming, making it both an audial and visual celebration of what is on offer.  Followed by several pages with easily-readable explanations of each of the biomes in the stories, which themselves are accompanied by photos held by the National Library of Australia, this book would not only be the perfect souvenir for the traveller but also opens up the country for those who have not yet travelled.

The final words can be the beginning of something as magnificent as this country.

Here in my country I’ll live and roam

My spirit sings here – this is my home.

But home for me is very different to the home of my family and my friends – we stretch from mountains to cities to seaside and the views from our windows are vastly different, and where we live shapes how we live.

Young children tend to see the world immediately around them as indicative of what the whole world is like, so this would be a perfect kickstart to broadening their horizons through teaming up with schools in a totally different landscape perhaps through a Travelling Teddy exchange or a Through My Window art collaboration, both of which not only connect the kids but help them to look closely at their own environment so they can share it with others elsewhere.  Where we live also shapes how we live and what we consider to be normal routines so comparing and contrasting things such as school and leisure time activities can also open doors and minds to difference. My Australia expands to become Our Australia.


Dig, Dump, Roll

Dig, Dump, Roll

Dig, Dump, Roll










Dig, Dump, Roll

Sally Sutton

Brian Lovelock

Walker Books, 2018

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


Crash-a-rumble Smash-a-grumble What’s at work? Here’s a clue: It will clear the ground for you. Bulldozer! Coming through! 

All the big machinery that fascinates little people is at work in this book created especially for them with its rhyme and rhythm, repetitive patterns, large font, big bright pictures and clues to support successful predictions that will support their early reading behaviour.  And these machines have a purpose – they are building something special just for the reader!

Perfect for pre-schoolers!

Dinosaur Juniors (1) – Happy Hatchday

Dinosaur Juniors (1) - Happy Hatchday

Dinosaur Juniors (1) – Happy Hatchday










Dinosaur Juniors (1) – Happy Hatchday

Rob Biddulph

HarperCollins, 2018

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


Once upon a time a long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, time ago there was a batch of 

nine perfect eggs.  One by one, eight of them hatched and out came Otto, Winnie, Hector, Sue, Nancy, Martin, Wilf and Boo Dinosaur.  And then, finally Greg (short for gregosaurus) popped out.  But Greg was a week later than his brothers and sisters and when he went to join them, they had paired up and were really busy – Otto and Winnie were painting and gluing; Sue and Hector were baking; Nancy and Martin were making music; and Wilf and Boo were blowing balloons.  There seemed to be no room for Greg anywhere. He was very despondent.  But then his little friend Ziggy the dragonfly tells him to cheer up…

This is a charming story, the first in the series, that will delight younger readers with its clever rhyme and bright pictures. They will empathise with Greg as he tries to find a friend and have fun trying to spot Ziggy in each spread.  

We all know that dinosaurs are the preschooler’s best friend so Biddulph has the content covered, and the rhyme and rhythm and colour will really entice the very young to want to read it for themselves. Perfect for preschoolers.

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.

Road Trip

Road Trip

Road Trip











Road Trip

Danny Parker

Nathaniel Eckstrom

Little Hare, 2017

48pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


It’s a familiar scene on Australian roads – cars packed to overflowing as the family heads out on a road trip.  And, inside, the conversation is just as familiar… “How long till we get there, Dad?” “About an hour.” “How long is an hour?”

Clearly, for this father and son that’s the start of this new adventure because in clever rhyming verse Dad lists all the things that take an hour…

It’s sixty short minutes, not one moment more.

A bike ride, 

A boat trip,

Ice cream by the shore.

It’s a hammock in summer; or the park with the dogs.

It’s a snuggle in winter; hot chocolate with rugs…

But as the drive continues from the city through magnificent countryside his son gets more and more frustrated urging his dad to go faster.  But Dad is quite content to stick to the speed limit and enjoy the journey as the scenery unfolds.  Until finally…

This story will be familiar to most families who have ever undertaken a journey that goes beyond the regular routine of shops, schools and sportsgrounds.  Parents will relate to the joy of just getting away from those clogged, crowded roads and breathing the country air, while their children will be full of the excitement and anticipation of the destination and couldn’t care about the journey.  And why does it always take longer to get there than it does to get home?  And how long is an hour anyway? What are the fun things that a family does that fill in an hour?

Apart from the charming illustrations which bring the journey to life for the adult reader but which tend to show the countryside as somewhat bland and featureless as a child sees it, illustrator Nathaniel Eckstrom has cleverly added some ideas in the endpages which suggest ways that child passengers might like to engage with the journey- making maps, writing a journey, recording a diary (although the concept of a cassette tape might baffle)… Anything other than “I Spy” or playing video games …  This grandma who lives 90 minutes through the countryside from her granddaughters just might have to get creative. Perhaps a scavenger hunt looking through the car windows, or a count-the-clouds competition…

A CBCA Notable for 2018, it is worthy of that honour.  


I’m a Duck

I'm a Duck

I’m a Duck









I’m a Duck

Eve Bunting

Will Hillenbrand

Candlewick Press, 2018

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


Imagine being a duck that is afraid of water!

But that’s the problem of this little one who rolled into the pond as an egg, and although quickly rescued by her mother, she has been left with a morbid fear of deep water.

Now I’m a duck who’s scared to go

in the pond or lake, and so

I cannot swim, and that is bad.

A landlocked duck is very sad.

Despite the encouragement of family and friends like Frog and Owl, Little Duck just can’t pluck up the courage to have a go.  She eventually has a go in a puddle, practising all day and night, but even though she’s well prepared, when it comes to the pond she’s really, really scared!  And then one day…

This is a gentle book, both in tone and palette, focusing on overcoming fear that will resonate with many young readers who will have have had to pull their big-kid pants on and have a go at something that has terrified them.  No matter how supportive those around you are, how much they offer to help you, as the little ducking observes, “I’d love to have you help me through it, but I’m the one who has to do it.”

It’s a story about moving at one’s own pace, practising and preparing, and doing things your own way that will offer comfort and support to those facing what seem to be insurmountable challenges and the joy of going from trepidation to triumph. No doubt little listeners will each have their own tale to tell as they reflect on similar situations and then give themselves a high-five for having mastered their fear. 

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space









The ABC Book of Rockets, Planets and Outer Space

Helen Martin & Judith Simpson

Cheryl Orsini

ABC Books, 2012

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


As soon as they are old enough to notice the difference between day and night, perhaps even before that when they first ask “Why is the sky blue?”, little people have questions about space.  This board book with its rhyming text, provides the first introduction to that mysterious world beyond our planet.

Designed to help little ones become more observant, such as looking at the changing phases of the moon, it also encourages their imagination as they think about what it might be like to land on the moon.

Perfect for preschoolers with questions!

Little Fish (series)

Little Fish

Little Fish








Where is Little Fish?


Count with Little Fish


Lucy Cousins

Walker Books, 2018

22pp., board book, RRP $A11.99

Little Fish is the new creation from the creator of Maisy and in these two new releases very young readers will love to lift the flaps to discover where he is hiding and then to count to 18 as he introduces all his fishy friends.  

With bright bold pictures full of colour, pattern and detail that encourage exploration, little ones will enjoy following his adventures and practise their early reading behaviour as they will soon be telling themselves the stories independently with these just-right-for-little-hands books, sturdy enough to endure toddler trials. 

Cousins has proven through her many publications for littlies that she knows just what attracts them and this new series is no exception.

A Boat of Stars: New poems to inspire and enchant

A Boat of Stars: New poems to inspire and enchant

A Boat of Stars: New poems to inspire and enchant











A Boat of Stars: New poems to inspire and enchant

Margaret Connolly & Natalie Jane Prior (eds)

ABC, 2018

128pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


A boat of stars came down tonight
and sailed around my bed –
it sprinkled stardust on my eyes,
put dreams inside my head…

Poetry, with its vocabulary, rhythm and sometimes rhyme, and its nuances that are the sounds of our spoken language is a critical part of helping our young readers not only learn to speak but also to fire their imaginations and create dreams.  Sadly, though, it has been a long time since we have had a new anthology of children’s poems that is appealing enough to attract the eyes and ears of our younger generation and so, to them, poems have become something you dissect for structure and syllables and struggle to emulate, missing the magic and meaning in the poet’s words.  

In this new collection put together by Margaret Connolly & Natalie Jane Prior because,like many parents and teachers, they struggled to find something that would engage, many of Australia’s renowned writers and illustrators have plied their craft with words and media to bring a joyful, diverse, and thoroughly engaging posse of poems that will re-ignite the beauty of the format and have children feeling satisfied that despite the brevity, they have visited a new place, thought new thoughts and heard a story. 

With topics ranging from zucchinis to giraffes to balls and beyond, each one is different in topic and structure and each reaches out to the everyday lives of our children, drawing them into something they are familiar with but told in a brand new way.  Something as common as a new baby coming into the family is given a whole new spin by Sophie Masson and  Julie Vivas; as ordinary as getting a new hat (Alexa Moses and Matt Shanks) or even just digging a hole (Kate Mayes and Matt Shanks) are brought to life in a way that inspires the imagination and suggests that poetry really does have a special place in their reading menu.  Being able to tell a story in just a few words and even fewer lines is a gift that few have but to the listener/reader it highlights the beauty of our language and shows how it is possible to make every word work hard to stir the brain and the heart.

This really is “a boat of stars” for the imagination and dreams, one that is accessible to all as a shared experience and a welcome addition to a critical area of literature and language that has been neglected for too long. 


Yay! It’s Library Day

Yay! It's Library Day

Yay! It’s Library Day








Yay! It’s Library Day

Aleesah Darlinson

Australian Children

Wombat Books, 2018

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


For Oliver and Ivy it is the best day of the week because it’s the day their dad takes them to the library.  That’s because that’s the day they can tip=toe through the lion’s lair into the realm of fairies and on into vast rolling oceans ruled by pirates, and even play ping-pong with purple llamas from Timbuctoo! Every book on the library’s shelves takes them to a new world and introduces new characters to frolic with in their words and pictures.  Princess, sea creatures, kangaroos,  ballerinas are all their as the magic carpet sweeps them on new adventures … those amazing books bring their imaginations alive.  

If this book were only this story that is as powerful an advertisement for stories and reading as the Superbowl ad was for Australian tourism, then it would be amazing as Darlinson’s rollicking rhyme shares the possibilities of story, but it is more than that because this is the second one that has drawn on the talents of Australia’s children to illustrate it.  Like its predecessor Zoo Ball, each page Wombat Books invited children all over Australia to submit drawings to accompany the story to provide them with an introduction to the world of illustrating and the opportunity to be published professionally and so each page has its own unique illustration to accompany Darlinson’s text, and providing a different and unique interpretation of it, just as stories do.  Now more than 30 budding illustrators have had their work featured, but over 600 took the opportunity to participate – a figure that suggests we need to consider offering students as much opportunity to draw as write as we teach.

Indeed, offering them the text and inviting them to interpret it as part of your lessons would not only provide an authentic way to investigate how we each interpret the same words differently according to our personal experiences but also open up discussions about perspective and interpretation of events and our role within them.  That’s as well as giving you a unique and intriguing display particularly if students are then encouraged to suggest and find stories that match the pictures, accompanied by their comments about why they love their library!

I hope Wombat Books continue to offer this opportunity to young Australian illustrators, but even if they don’t, it gives us a reminder that we should never underestimate the power of the picture!  

The perfect book to share on Library Lovers’ Day!