One Minute’s Silence

One Minute's Silence

One Minute’s Silence











One Minute’s Silence

David Metzenthen

Michael Camilleri

Allen & Unwin, 2019

48pp., pbk RRP $A16.99



One minute’s silence is the traditional way of honouring the memory of those who have died, particularly military personnel.  And during that one minute’s silence, we are urged to think about those who have fallen and the sacrifice they have made for their country.  But what do you really think about?  Are you like the bored, disinterested Year 12 students who open this story? Do you think about the feats and fears of our soldiers and what they did?  Do you ever think about what it was like for those on the other side of our bullets and bayonets? For, in this powerful picture book, we are encouraged to do just that, to consider what it was like both for those who made that fateful landing on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915 and those whom they were fighting against.

“In one minute’s silence you can imagine the grinding in your guts as the ironbark bows of the Australian boats bumped the stony shore of Gallipoli on the twenty-fifth of April 1915…when twelve thousand wild colonial boys dashed across the shivering Turkish sand in the pale light of a dairy farmer’s dawn lashed with flying lead.

But can you imagine, in one minute’s silence, lines of young Turkish soldiers from distant villages, hearts hammering, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in trenches cut like wounds…firing on strangers wading through the shallows intent on streaming into the homeland of the Turkish people.”  

This remarkable retelling of the events that  form the focus of the annual commemorations of those eight fateful months in 1915 starts with a picture of that group of senior students who have been asked to observe one minute’s silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – Remembrance Day in Australia. Their expressions of here-we-go-again-we’ve-been-doing-this-for years have been captured perfectly in the pencil strokes of Michael Camilleri and one might wonder what this book has to offer that has not been done before. But then the narration begins and as the events unfold the students are drawn into them, gradually realising the youth and ordinariness of those who were embroiled in this conflict over 100 years ago. These were kids just like them. They can put themselves in the picture, as Camilleri has. However, not only do they see themselves in the Australian uniform, but their attention is also drawn to the youth and the ordinariness of those on the other side and their perspective. They are no longer just a faceless enemy responsible for the deaths and maiming of these students’ bygone family members. The futility of war is apparent…

“In one minute’s silence you can imagine the solitary day when these men without weapons, sharing cigarettes and shovels as they buried their dead in the cool Turkish earth…and the sound of the wind and waves, and quiet talking, replacing the crack, boom and blast of war.

But can you imagine the fierce Anzacs and the fighting Turks quietly returning to their trenches after this one day of truce then firing at each other that afternoon, although they truly knew that the other M.Ed.(TL) were not so much different after all.”

Metzenthen has done a remarkable thing in this story – he has provoked the reader into walking a mile in another man’s shoes; a mile that is thought-provoking and enlightening.  The juxtaposition of the Australian and Turkish experience which really serves to emphasise their similarities is masterful. Camilleri’s illustrations are equally as powerful. The scene is set on the front cover where two boys – one Australian, the other Turkish – eye each other off and every image within is just as potent.   Could there be anything more evocative about death than a double-page spread of a very large fly surrounded by hundreds of its cousins? Unless it’s the picture of men retreating over a hill that has hundreds of bodies beneath their feet? The imagery used to help students understand the difficult concepts surrounding war is outstanding.  Michael Camilleri has provided information about the extraordinary research and thought that underpin each image at 

Teachers notes are available and it is also one of the feature texts in the PETAA Lest We Forget collection for those with membership. Since its original publication in hardback form in 2014, as predicted this book has won a number of prestigious awards including

  • Winner, CBCA Book of the Year, Crichton Award for New Illustrators, 2015, AU
  • Winner, Prime Minister’s Literary Award – Children’s Fiction, 2015, AU
  • Runner-up, CBCA Picture Book of the Year, 2015, AU
  • Short-listed, The Nib Anzac Centenary Prize for Literature, 2015, AU
  • Short-listed, Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature – Children’s Literature Award, 2016, AU
  • Short-listed, Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards – Children’s Books, 2016, AU
  • Long-listed, CBCA Book of the Year, Eve Pownell Award for Information Books, 2015, AU

This it is an essential addition to any collection of resources about this period in our history.

Originally published November 11 2014

Updated April 1, 2023

Dreaming Soldiers

Dreaming Soldiers

Dreaming Soldiers











Dreaming Soldiers

Catherine Bauer

Shane McGrath

Big Sky, 2018

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


Jimmy Watson and Johnno Hogan were the best of friends – swimming-in-waterholes, camping-under-the-stars, sharing-water-bottles kind of friends. Throughout their lives they did everything together and even when their paths diverged because there were different rules and expectations for “white” and indigenous children then, they still came back together as close as they had ever been.  And then one day they went into town for supplies, heeded the call for men to fight in a war far away and enlisted…

This could be the story of any number of friendships of the early 20th century when ‘white’ and indigenous kids on farms formed friendships that were blind to colour, cultural differences or any other racial prejudices and its strong focus on that friendship is its positive. While the treatment of indigenous soldiers during the conflicts that Australia has been involved in since the Boer War in 1899 could have been its focus, its power lies in that spotlight on the friendship, the shared adventures and stories, the fears and hopes that are common regardless of skin colour. Teaching notes are available. 

Within the Australian Curriculum, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures cross-curriculum priority is designed for all students to engage in reconciliation, respect and recognition of the world’s oldest continuous living cultures, and so this book offers the opportunity to help our younger students understand that despite rules against their enrolment (those not of “substantially European origin” were excluded from enlisting by the Defence Act 1903) and not being recognised as citizens until 1967,their neglect and exclusion on their return, indigenous people have fought for Australia in many overseas conflicts and their contribution has been vital.  Now, each year following the Dawn Service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, there is a special ceremony acknowledging their service. 

Further information, and some of the stories of the estimated 1000 who managed to enlist can be found on the Australian War Memorial site and an internet search will provide links to further valuable resources.


Originally published April 23, 2020

Updated March 2023

Grandad’s Camper





Grandad's Camper

Grandad’s Camper










Grandad’s Camper

Harry Woodgate

Andersen Press , 2022 

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


There’s nothing Milly loves more than to visit her Grandad, snuggle up on the sofa and listen as he tells all about the amazing places he and Gramps would explore in their camper.  But these days, Grandad’s camper van is hidden away in the garage – now Gramps isn’t around any more, the adventures they shared travelling in it just wouldn’t be the same. As she listens to his wonderful stories, Grandad’s granddaughter has an idea to cheer him up…

This is a delightful story of a little girl’s relationship with her grandfather, a bond that those of us who have been fortunate to experience it never forget.  But this story has a twist because there is no grandma – rather there is Gramps, her grandfather’s much loved partner. And while it is a reminder that there are many definitions and designs of “family” – the rainbow flag on the camper on the cover is an indicator- it is the little girl’s complete acceptance of the situation that is heart-warming because it shows we have come a long way, albeit there is still a way to go.  So while gender diversity is not the obvious in-your-face focus of the story, it is the memories that are so inextricably bound together by Grandad’s and Gramps’ relationship that are at its heart. 

Family diversity is so widespread and little ones need to see theirs in stories, so this is another opportunity to share and celebrate. 

Originally published March 4, 2022

Updated February, 2023

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. 



The Crayons’ Christmas





The Crayons' Christmas

The Crayons’ Christmas










The Crayons’ Christmas

Drew Daywalt

Oliver Jeffers

HarperCollins, 2019

32pp., hbk., RRP $27.99


Tis the season for all of us to write our Christmas wish lists. But everyone knows – even the Crayons – that the best presents are the ones that you give. In this unique book, readers join in as Duncan, the Crayons and their families celebrate the festive season. However, come Christmas Eve, Duncan is sad because while everyone else has something special all he has are letters telling him his friends wouldn’t be home for Christmas.  Until…

This is one of those magical books that is likely to become a family heirloom. With real, folded letters to pull from their envelopes and read, games, press-out ornaments, a poster and a pop-up tree, it comes specially wrapped like a gift increasing the anticipation and just asking to be opened and explored. Perhaps not one for the general library collection but definitely one to be put aside for that special Christmas Countdown.

Flipper and Finnegan – The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

Flipper and Finnegan - The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

Flipper and Finnegan – The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins












Flipper and Finnegan – The True Story of How Tiny Jumpers Saved Little Penguins

Sophie Cunningham

Anil Tortop

Albert Street, 2022

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


Flipper and Finnegan are two of the Little Penguins that live on a Phillip Island, fishing in the surrounding ocean by day and bringing delight and joy to the thousands of visitors who travel to see their evening parade as they waddle up to their burrows.

But one day, when Flipper comes up for air she gets covered in something that is black and smelly and sticky – and Finnegan is nowhere to be seen…

And, if you’re a rescuer how can you keep so many penguins warm and safe so they don’t die of hypothermia or ingesting the oil on their feathers, while you painstakingly clean them one by one?

Based on the true story of a 2001 oil spill in Port Phillip Bay that affected the Little Penguins, this is a heart-warming story of how a nation pulled together to save the colony by knitting little sweaters to protect them while they waited their turn.  In all, 438 Little Penguins were affected by that oil spill and of those, 96% were successfully saved with the help of penguin jumpers, rehabilitated at the Wildlife Clinic and released back into the wild.

From the team who created Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a Brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire, young readers can again learn of the perils – natural and manmade – that threaten our precious wildlife and while the disasters might be unavoidable, there is something that can be done to mitigate their impact.  By focusing on just two penguins and telling their story as an example of the other 436 penguins affected, their plight becomes more real and immediate and the reader connects with it more readily.  

While the penguin jumper project has been running for over 20 years, there are many that aren’t really suitable for putting on the penguins and so these are sold on penguin toys to raise funds for wildlife conservation on Phillip Island. Since 2012 the sale of these jumpers has raised $287,700 , going towards the  protection and preservation of the colony.  

A charming story that will help raise awareness of the impact of humans on the landscape and to encourage our young readers to take only photographs and leave only (carefully placed) footprints. 


Willa and Woof 1: Mimi is Missing

Willa and Woof 1: Mimi is Missing

Willa and Woof 1: Mimi is Missing











Willa and Woof 1: Mimi is Missing

Jacqueline Harvey

Puffin, 2022

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


Willa’s four-legged best friend is her albino wolfhound, Woof; her same-age best friend is Tae Jin whose name means “person of greatness” in Korean; and her old-age best friend is Frank Pickles who lives next door in the retirement village and is very old and very grumpy with crinkly skin and bags under his eyes.  Willa visits him almost every day and listens to his stories about how he used to race pigeons when he was younger, although now he only has Mimi in the aviary in his tiny back yard. 

So when Willa discovers Mimi is missing and she thinks it is her fault because she didn’t latch the cage properly, she is devastated and, after searching everywhere, hatches a plot to lure her home.  But when that backfires, she knows she has to confess to Frank – but then she discovers he is missing too…

Told by Willa herself with that typical young-person humour, this is the first in a new series from the author of Clementine Rose, Alice-Miranda, and Kensy and Max , created for younger readers who are consolidating their skills and need quality writing, interesting characters and relatable plots, supported by short chapters, a larger font and illustrations.  For me, one of its strengths is the small group of main characters who are interesting even though they don’t stray too far from what is expected allowing the reader to take in the whole story without having to think too much about who’s who and their relationships.  At the same time though, there are those who play a minor role in this story but who will most likely pop up again in sequels, establishing a network that will become familiar.  This is a key reason that series are particularly popular with readers – they can bring their prior knowledge of the characters to the page and get stuck into the story itself without having to be distracted.

While I think this is a series that is going to build into becoming as popular with young readers as its predecessors, why not offer it to a reluctant reader and ask them to read and assess whether it will be worth buying the additions that follow, ensuring that they support their judgement..  Giving them context and purpose for their reading could be just the bridge they need to cross…  (And if they’re not hooked, you’ve started a conversation about what they do like to read, as well as the opportunity to give it to others on a 2/3 basis for purchase.) 

Wild Bush Days

Wild Bush Days

Wild Bush Days










Wild Bush Days

Penny Harrison

Virginia Gray

Midnight Sun, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


There’s a whisper among these ghosts, these craggy shadows on the hill. 

The song of a forgotten past, it tells of wild bush days, of rough and hungry times, a fierce woman tearing through the scrub…

Jessie Hickman was Australia’s bold, but little-known, Lady Bushranger. Raised in the circus during the early 1900s, she later turned to a life of crime and cattle hustling. Also referred to as the “Wild Woman of Wollemi” because she roamed the upper Blue Mountains and Lower Hunter in what is now the Wollemi National Park she used her skills as a rough-rider and tightrope walker to elude police (echoed in the illustrations in the final pages) and often hiding in a cave, deep in the mountains. 

In this lyrical and superbly illustrated new picture book, two young, modern-day adventurers go looking for that cave, accompanied by the whispers of the past calling them further on through the rough terrain, deeper and deeper into history until…

The concept of telling Hickman’s story through the eyes of the girls, the exquisite choice of language and layout and the illustrations which interpret the text bringing it to life and beyond, combine to not only introduce young readers to a little-known character in Australia’s bushranger story but also show how history can be told in a way that straddles both information and imagination, bringing it to life in a way that facts and figures don’t.  Certainly, I was off on a rabbit-hole chase to find out more…

At the same time, there is also the joy of having the freedom to explore the bush, to echo Hickman’s circus skills as the girls scramble through the undergrowth, climb rocks, traverse creeks over slippery branches, unperturbed about scratches or dirt or “danger”, inspiring a desire in the reader to just get out into the fresh air of the outdoors and explore. 

A contender for next year’s CBCA awards for sure.  



Remarkably Ruby

Remarkably Ruby

Remarkably Ruby











Remarkably Ruby

Terri Libenson

HarperCollins, 2022

384pp., pbk., RRP $A17.99


Ruby is moving to middle school, a whole new environment with a whole lot of new people to meet.  Which for some, will be an exciting opportunity, but very daunting for one who doesn’t have “the greatest social skills” , whose not into dances, social media or sports, and who is as tall as their money tree. 

More for the upper end of this readership, nevertheless it is a story that will resonate with many who find themselves having to change schools, and its first-person voice, diary-like entries and a format resembling a graphic novel make it accessible to any independent reader.

It is the 6th in the Emmie and Friends series, written to help young girls navigate those tricky tween years by showing them that the problems and issues they face are common and there are ways to work their way through them.  So while some may not resonate so much with Ruby (although many will),  there are others in the series that will definitely speak to them, making it a series that needs to be in the library’s collection as our young girls seek books about those just like themselves, with the same insecurities, confusion and peer pressure.




Jigsaw: A Puzzle in the Post

Jigsaw: A Puzzle in the Post

Jigsaw: A Puzzle in the Post












Jigsaw: A Puzzle in the Post

Bob Graham

Walker, 2022

40pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99


When a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle mysteriously arrives in the post, the Kelly family take on the challenge and settle in for what becomes weeks and weeks of fun. But when they get to the end, there is one piece missing- is there anything more frustrating.

The astute reader will have followed the illustrations and knows what has happened to it, but the Kellys don’t and so they start what seems to be an endless and pointless search.  Will they find it and complete the puzzle?

Readers familiar with Bob Graham’s writing know that there is always more to the story than the text and the devil is in the detail so they will know to look closely at the illustrations and to read between and beyond the lines.  What is the significance of Katie and Kitty writing a thank you letter to their anonymous benefactor and putting it in the post? For those for whom he is a new discovery, these teachers’ notes will help unpack its many layers to reveal a story of the unquenchable hope and optimism and faith of young children.