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!


Hickory Dickory Dash

Hickory Dickory Dash

Hickory Dickory Dash










Hickory Dickory Dash

Tony Wilson

Laura Wood

Scholastic Press, 2018

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


Mother Mouse  – the one in the rhyme, the one that climbed the clock at one, then ran back down – is frantic with worry and in a desperate hurry to find her two bold sons.  They had been playing outside in the moonlight when the cat pounced quite unannounced and they scarpered for safety.  Now  Mother Mouse is searching the house for them with the cat hot on her tail.

Where can they be?  They are not in the playroom or the kitchen; not the pantry or the garage or even the backyard.  Every room in the house is visited in this desperate dash,  as wherever she searches the cat is there, ready to pounce but being bamboozled each time  either by mouse savvy, swiftness or circumstance.  

Finally, exhausted and sobbing after two hours of searching, Mother Mouse sits on the verandah almost without hope – and then she has an idea…

Even if this hadn’t been selected for the 2018 National Simultaneous Storytime  it would have been an automatic hit with a wide range of readers.  As with his first book, The Cow Tripped Over the Moon Wilson has drawn on a familiar nursery rhyme and given it new life with his own twist and message of perseverance and the lengths a parent goes to for the love of their children. Clever rhymes move the story along at a dashing pace and with the cat in hot pursuit, the reader wonders if this will have a happy ending.  As well as the suspense there is also humour – the cat’s fate in the nursery will produce a LOL moment- as each time Mother Mouse narrowly escapes a horrible fate.  Laura Woods’ illustrations  use so many different perspectives  that we can feel Mother Mouse’s fear as well as using light and shade cleverly to bring the house at midnight alive and  put critical elements in focus. 

Suggestions for using the story as part of NSS 2018 are available but as May 23 draws closer there are bound to be more and more available as it lends itself to many facets of the curriculum, including maths.  But even without formal curriculum-related activities, this is just a rollicking read that is likely to become raucous as the children are drawn into to its almost vaudeville-like humour.  Watch out, Mother Mouse!


I’ll Love You Always

I'll Love You Always

I’ll Love You Always








I’ll Love You Always

Mark Sperring

Alison Brown

Bloomsbury, 2018

32pp., board book, RRP $A13.99


How long will I love you?
A second is too short.
A second is no time
for a love of this sort.

A minute is no better,
for minutes fly by!
They’re gone in a moment
like a sweet butterfly.

Moving through the day, the seasons and then the years, this is a charming tale that would make the perfect gift for new parents who want something special to welcome a new child and use as a lilting lullaby over those early months.  While it features Mother Mouse and her baby in gorgeous full-colour illustrations that change with the time, it is perfect for little ones or even bigger ones who want to declare their love.  

An Aussie Night Before Christmas

An Aussie Night Before Christmas

An Aussie Night Before Christmas










An Aussie Night Before Christmas (10th Anniversary edition)

Yvonne Morrison

Kilmeny Niland

Scholastic Press, 2015

32pp., hbk.,



Twas the night before Christmas; there wasn’t a sound.

Not a possum was stirring; no-one was around.

We’d left on the table some tucker and beer,

Hoping that Santa Claus soon would be here…

So begins this iconic salute to Christmas in Australia drawing on the familiar sights and sounds of a night that is usually so hot and it’s hard to sleep because it’s still daylight outside, never mind ‘dreams of pavlova’ dancing around heads.  And when there’s a ruckus outside that needs to be investigated, who would be surprised that it’s Santa in a rusty ute pulled by eight mighty kangaroos? Kangaroos called Kylie, Kirsty, Shazza and Shane, Kipper and Skipper, Bazza and Wayne?  

There are many stories that put the Aussie spin on Christmas, but this is such a rollicking good yarn, funny and engaging that it’s no wonder this is a 10th anniversary edition and it is popping up all over the Internet in full, although the YouTube version loses some of its charm with the American accent and the change from ‘beer’ to ‘root beer’.  Australian Santas drink real beer!

Accompanied by the distinctive illustrations of Kilmeny Niland, this is the perfect story to read to the little ones before they settle down, and the perfect story to end our Christmas Countdown for 2015.


A peek inside...

A peek inside…


An Aussie Day Before Christmas




An Aussie Day Before Christmas

An Aussie Day Before Christmas









An Aussie Day Before Christmas

Kilmeny Niland

Scholastic, 2008

32pp., hbk., RRP $A15.99


‘Twas the day before Christmas
And in his beach shack,
Santa was snoozing,
Flat out on his back.

‘Shake a leg, love,’
Sheila Claus said.
‘Time to get ready
For the big night ahead.’

There is much to do before Santa makes his once-a-year flight…chooks to feed, breakfast to have, a walk with his missus, the news to read, pressies to wrap and the ‘roos to sort out. “The koalas won’t help me, they’re too flamin’ slow.” 

Putting iconic Australian sayings and slang to the familiar rhythm of the Clement C. Moore poem, Kilmeny Niland uses her artistic talent to portray a DownUnder day before Christmas through stunning illustrations that capture a very different picture of Santa than the traditional one our children are so familiar with.  

Before sharing it, children might like to speculate on what it is that Aussie Santa does in preparation – perhaps a surf, perhaps a nap, perhaps prawns and a beer – whatever they predict they will delight in Niland’s interpretation that might dispel their snowy North Pole images forever. And a must for any collection of Australian Christmas stories you might be sending to children overseas.

The Princess and the Christmas Rescue




The Princess and the Christmas Rescue

The Princess and the Christmas Rescue












The Princess and the Christmas Rescue

Caryl Hart

Sarah Warburton

Nosy Crow, 2017

32pp., hbk. RRP $A24.99


Kept in her beautiful palace at the top of the world by parents who fear for her safety because of what lives in the surrounding forest, Princess Eliza is lonely  But even though she is stuck inside all day with no one to play with, she is resourceful and she figures out how to make almost anything with a few bits of wood and some string — including her own toys! But her parents think that her mechanical inclinations aren’t suited to a princess, and tell her she’d be better off devoting her time to searching for a friend.

But not being allowed to go out into the world makes that a tricky thing, and even drawing on her fairytales doesn’t help – the gingerbread man skedaddles, the frog she kisses doesn’t turn into a prince and even dangling her long hair out the window brings no visitors. But as she sits at the window she smells smoke drifting over the trees and is determined to find out who is making it and she slips out into the forest.  As a huge shaggy shape looms up out of the snow she is frightened but it turns out to be a friendly deer who carries to his master’s house where she finds elves who are overworked and despondent because  Santa has the flu and they’re unlikely to finish all the orders before Christmas Eve.

But Eliza knows just what to do – at last all that time spent with paper and paperclips, scissors and glue comes in very handy… but can she save Christmas?

Recommended by A Mighty Girl for being a story that empowers girls and encourages them to be “smart, confident and courageous” this certainly meets these criteria.  From defying her parents and going into the forest, demonstrating her inventive intelligence in an elves-and-shoemaker kind of way to save Christmas and yet still keeping her feet on the ground (sort of), this is a story that will appeal to girls everywhere and help take the sting from the word ‘princess’ that it has acquired over the last decade or so. Being clever, imaginative and inventive is not restricted to boys! And it could well be the springboard for kickstarting some problem-solving as Makerspaces need new life breathed into them at the beginning of 2018.  Students could brainstorm the other sorts of problems that Santa might encounter as he tries to meet everyone’s requests and then they could invent something to solve them.  

A joyful, fun story that will be a permanent part of my Christmas Countdown.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star




There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star









There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star

P. Crumble

Louis Shea

Scholastic, 2017

24pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99


There was an old lady who swallowed a fly…

So many of a certain generation recall this traditional rhyme from yesteryear and marvelled at how much one old lady could fit in her stomach.  Even the somewhat brutal ending didn’t faze us because it was inevitable.  Now Victorian author P. Crumble has taken this rhyme and built it into a series of hilarious editions that are so much fun for younger readers, encouraging them to read and recite them just for the delight of the words on their tongue and the pictures on their eyes.

So this one, newly released with 3D pictures and glasses, which features the old lady getting very greedy about Christmas, will be the perfect addition to Miss 6’s Santa Sack.    And I’m so glad that even though she swallowed Santa Claus (to wild applause) there is a happy ending.

Rudolph Shines Again





Rudolph Shines Again

Rudolph Shines Again












Rudolph Shines Again

Robert L. May

Antonio Javier Caparo

Little Simon, 2015

40pp., hbk.


It’s a dark and snowy Christmas Eve so once again Santa wants Rudolph to lead the way for the sleigh as his nose shines bold and bright. 

But the other reindeer are jealous and not content with just laughing at Rudolph and calling him names, they are really mean and make him carry the heaviest loads, even using him as the ball when they played football!

Rudolph is so sad and whinges and whines so much that the light on his nose goes out!  With no reason to stay to help and full of self-pity, he leaves the comparative safety of the North Pole for somewhere where he is unknown and unrecognised.  And there he meets some rabbits whose babies are lost in the forest and at the mercy of foxes and wolves. Completely forgetting his own troubles, Rudolph promises to find them – but can he do it without his shiny nose to light the way? Of course he does and with the rescue comes a realisation that is brighter than any nose could be!

Written in 1954, this is the sequel to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer but unlike the original which May wrote to entertain children as part of a department store promotion, this one has a stronger message about there always being someone worse off than you, perhaps inspired by his family circumstances as his wife died from cancer as he worked on the original.  While not necessarily the time for an in-depth discussion, nevertheless young children will feel Rudolph’s pain at being bullied and might think about the feelings of others that they tease.  They will also draw encouragement from Rudolph being able to get things in perspective and go back to face his tormentors knowing that he is strong and has a lot to offer.

This new release is stunning with its beautiful artwork bringing another dimension to the story, also told in rhyme, and making a special duo of books for the Christmas Countdown. 


The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas




The Tooth Fairy's Christmas

The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas









The Tooth Fairy’s Christmas

Peter Bently

Garry Parsons

Hodder Children’s, 2014

32pp.,  pbk., RRP $A15.99


It’s Christmas Eve and when the Tooth Fairy gets a message from Robin Redbreast that Little Tim Tucker has lost a tooth, it puts an end to her hopes and plans for an early night at home.  Outside a winter’s gale is blasting and she is tossed every which way, ending up lost.  But in the distance she hears a strange sound and into sight comes Santa and his sleigh.  He rescues her but that is not the end of her adventures… will Little Tim Tucker wake up to a nice surprise or will he be disappointed.

Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are such an integral part of the early lives of children the world over so to have two of the three team up and help each other has to be a good combination that will appeal to our very young children.  Working together, Santa and the Tooth Fairy show that all sorts of problems can be overcome – each has skills and that special something that when put together as a team can solve all sorts of dilemmas.

Bright glossy pictures, imaginative layout and rhyme and rhythm move the story along making an original and intriguing adventure story that will delight as the Christmas Countdown continues.

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow











The Naughtiest Reindeer Takes a Bow

Nicki Greenberg

Allen & Unwin, 2017

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


All the reindeer are fast asleep, tucked up in their beds resting before the big night ahead when their dreams are shattered by Ruby telling them it is time to get up!  Except it’s not.

But she is determined to get a head start on the Christmas deliveries because she is tired of taking the blame for time running out and everyone getting anxious and stressed and so she takes off on her own…

Luckily when she runs out of puff, she crashes into George and Amelia’s home – they are familiar with her from her previous antics in The Naughtiest Reindeer and The Naughtiest Reindeer at the Zoo but what are they to do with her when she is a day early? Easy – they take her to school!!! Oh dear!

The naughtiest reindeer has become a Christmas favourite of the Christmas Countdown and this new adventure is no different.  It rollicks along with rhyme and illustrations each highlighting the chaos that only Ruby can cause! I know two little girls who will enjoy renewing their friendship with her before sharing this latest adventure this Christmas Eve.