Eat My Dust!

Eat My Dust!

Eat My Dust!











Eat My Dust!

Neridah McMullin

Lucia Masciullo

Walker Books, 2023

32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99


It is 1928 and despite proving their capabilities during World War I,  most men still believed a woman’s place  to be “barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen”. Many who had stepped in to fulfil the roles and occupations traditionally taken by men had been relegated back to domestic duties, yet there were many who defied the prevailing practices and attitudes and chose to follow their dreams.  

Among them were Kathleen Elizabeth Howell and Jean Ochiltree Robertson whose passion was driving and who, in 1927, had completed the perilous trip between Melbourne and Darwin mapping their journey and the mileages as they went from Melbourne to Mount Gambier and Adelaide before heading north through the Central Desert to Oodnadatta and Alice Springs and up through to Darwin, sending their research back to their sponsors, the Shell Oil Company, who used the information to produce their first map of the route to central Australia.

Even though they were well-known in the motoring circles of the time, were experienced in both motor mechanics and driving in the desert, in 1928 when they took on the the west-east speed record from Perth to Melbourne (having already driven from Melbourne to Perth) and beating it by five hours, it was the derision and discrimination of the men that proved to be a greater hurdle. Each place they stopped for fuel or food, they were met by those who felt that such a journey was not the realm of women. To which they tended to respond, “Eat my dust!”  Thus, told as narrative non fiction, this new book provides both an introduction to two little-known heroines who paved the way for women to drive today, and highlights those attitudes offering an insight into how difficult it was to be female in a male environment and the opportunity to investigate the transition of women’s achievements and influence over the last century.

With the 2023 CBCA Book Week theme of Read. Grow. Inspire still fresh in our minds, this is another story that allows young readers to meet the pioneers who followed their dreams, inspired others and  made something “abnormal” normal for today’s generations. 

















Debra Tidball

Arielle Li

EK Books, 2023

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


Down on the harbour it is Tug’s job to work around the big ships as they are manoeuvered this way and that so they can load and unload their cargo for and from faraway destinations.  Some ships she sees often and there is one that she has a special bond with, missing it mightily  when it sails out over the horizon.  And while she still goes about her daily tasks as best she can, she wonders whether Ship misses her as much as she misses Ship. 

But her questions are answered and her worries allayed when Ship returns and the bond is renewed as they share their connection with each other.

Written for our youngest readers to reassure them that even though they might be separated from a parent for a time, out of sight does not mean out of mind and that they are always anchored in the heart of the absent one regardless.  At a time when there are many reasons that separation might happen, stories like this help alleviate anxiety and confirm that the parent will return.  This would be a good one to share whenever there is the prospect of parent and child being apart enabling the child to become the tough little tug with a job to do that is as important as that of the Ship who is away. 

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle: 50th Anniversary Edition

Mulga Bills Bicycle

Mulga Bills Bicycle











Mulga Bill’s Bicycle: 50th Anniversary Edition

A. B. (Banjo) Paterson

Kilmeny Niland, Deborah Niland

HarperCollins, 2023

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


Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk, that caught the cycling craze’

He turned away the good old horse that served him many days;

He dressed himself in cycling clothes, resplendent to be seen’

He hurried of to town and bought a shining new machine…”

But despite his boasting that “there’s none can ride like me”,  he finds getting on the penny-farthing difficult enough and that riding is nothing like he anticipated…

This is one of Banjo Paterson’s classics, an hilarious tale of misadventure, that was first brought to life for young readers by the illustrations of sisters Kilmeny and Deborah Niland in 1973 and has remained a favourite on library shelves for 50 years, often being the introduction to other works by Paterson for those same young readers. While Paterson’s words tell the story of Mulga Bill’s crazy ride, it is the action and expressions that have been captured in the illustrations that ensure the reader is totally immersed in the story, invested in the inevitable outcome – can anyone survive such an out-of-control ride?

While bicycles have certainly changed since this poem was first published in 1896, perhaps sparking an investigation into how they, or even transport and travel itself has evolved since then, Bill’s embracing the new technology remains the same for many.  There are always going to be the early adopters and the late bloomers and students might like to consider which they are and the pros and cons of each approach. Some have suggested that in the era that the poem was written, the “safety bicycle” would have been more common that the penny-farthing and that perhaps the illustrators used poetic licence with Paterson’s words to create something more appealing, opening opportunities to discuss whether it is okay to do this, or to rearrange historical events or geographical places and so forth to make a story more engaging.  Should the fiction have precedence over the facts? Some students may even have examples they can share as authors acknowledge their fiddling with the facts in many historical stories. 

Or they might just enjoy this 50th anniversary edition for the fun and laughter it evokes!  

The Trip

The Trip

The Trip










The Trip

Paul Beavis 

Little Steps, 2022

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


When a little girl and her dog take a trip into outer space in their hot air balloon, they are quite comfortable until they see footsteps in the surface that are not theirs… Are they afraid or do they get together for a picnic?

 This is a deceptively simple book about the nature of inclusiveness because the story is told solely through the use of pronouns – me, you, us, mine, yours, ours,  and so on – and the reader really has to interpret the illustrations to tell the story making it perfect for encouraging those connections between text and picture that are critical early reading behaviours.  It also means they can tell the story using their own language as they expand on the illustrations to explain what is happening , particularly if the astute adult sharing it with them guides their reading with targeted questions to draw out the events. and thus enabling the child to return to the story independently when they wish, helping them to understand that they do have power over print and they can  read. They also learn that print stays constant – they can return to it again and again whenever they wish and take as much time as they like to absorb and tell the story.  

This is another story evolving from The Book Hungry Bears television show in which the main characters share picture books, hungry to learn all they can from those they settle down to share together, encouraging young readers to do the same. 



How to Survive on Mars

How to Survive on Mars











How to Survive on Mars

Jasmina Lazendle-Galloway

CSIRO Publishing, 2022

120pp., pbk., RRP $A29.99


For the last couple of weeks, students have been “dreaming with their eyes open” – dreaming of what they would like to be, do and go, and, for some, that would include travelling into space, perhaps even living on another planet, like Mars.

But how to survive? With not enough air to breathe, sunlight to keep  warm, or any available food and water, life on Mars would be a challenge… but it just might be possible! In this stunning new release, the reader is taken on a journey to the Red Planet to discover natural wonders like ancient polar ice caps, the highest volcano in the solar system and a 45-kilometre-wide impact crater that was once a Martian lake. Led by astronomer and member of the National Space Society of Australia, scientists, engineers, archaeologists, ethicists and science-fiction writers have joined together to explore the planet, consider the challenges and offer solutions so those with an interest and the dream can dream on.

Photographs, activities and quizzes make it an inviting read even for those without the dream, as space tourism gathers momentum and the first crewed Mars Mission, which would include sending astronauts to Mars, orbiting Mars, and a return to Earth, is proposed for the 2030s, just as these readers will be thinking about planning gap years or family holidays. What a change from the pilgrimage to the UK of my generation!



Leilong’s Too Long!

Leilong's Too Long!

Leilong’s Too Long!











Leilong’s Too Long!

Julia Liu

Bel Lynn

Gecko Press, 2022

28pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99


Leilong the brontosaurus is a very good school bus, and the children are all ready and waiting as he goes from building to building to collect them.  But being a brontosaurus in a modern city of cars and buses and trucks and people can have its drawbacks and Leilong finds himself banned and confined to the school gymnasium.  He is so upset that he cries and cries… and finds himself a new career!!

Young readers first met Leilong when he took them to  library storytime and they will be happy that he returns in another adventure. What if Leilong arrived at their school?  What uses could he have?  Have them write letters to the principal to persuade them that Leilong should stay… 


Fire Truck Santa





Fire Truck Santa

Fire Truck Santa











Fire Truck Santa

Nic McPickle

Nathaniel Eckstrom

A&U Children’s, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A17.99


A Christmas tradition, all round this land,
from the city to the country, from the bush to the sand,
in a shiny red truck instead of a sleigh,
Santa sets out on his jolly old way.

Seeing Santa arrive in the community of a fire truck is not only a common site for our children, but is perhaps more familiar than his arrival on a sleigh, and given the events of recent summers, this is a wonderful tribute to all the firies who keep us safe, their families and their supporters.  But hopefully their fire trucks are more reliable than this old one which keeps conking out as Santa makes his way around the town.  But with the familiar Aussie ingenuity, the children get it going again until, on its very last stop, it stops altogether, never to go again.  What are the townsfolk going to do???

But in recognition of the way everyone – neighbours and friends, firies, park rangers, teachers, nurses and the kids themselves – have pulled together to keep the old one going, Santa has one last gift for the town…

Written to the rhythm of the Clement C. Moore poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmasthis is a story that will not only resonate with our children but also be appreciated by the adults who share it with them. For regardless of recent memories of Christmas, it is sure to touch something deep down and inspire a resolve to touch base with those childhood memories and make Christmas extra-special for the children this year, especially as restrictions ease. The illustrations are as lively as the text and should spark conversations about those Christmas customs that are uniquely Australian.

A great start to the 2021 Christmas Countdown.  

Let’s Go! On a Submarine

Let's Go! On a Submarine

Let’s Go! On a Submarine











Let’s Go! On a Submarine

Rosalyn Albert

Natalia Moore

Catch A Star, 2021 

16pp., board book., 2021


‘Let’s go on a submarine
And cruise beneath the sea.
Discovering strange creatures
Who swim so fast and free.’

This is a new addition to the Let’s Go series, this one taking our youngest readers under the ocean on a yellow submarine to discover some of the wonders that are usually hidden beneath the waves. 

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 or riding a train or a ferry, and those like this that take them under the sea or travelling in space on a rocket introduce them to otherwise out-of-reach worlds. Thus, when they encounter other books with those sorts of settings, they are able to bring their existing knowledge to the page, predict what they will see and what might happen so the story makes sense, 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 youngest readers ensuring they develop those vital concepts about print that must be in place long before they embark on trying to master the skills if they are to make connections between what’s in their brain and what’s on the page. 

In the meantime, the adults who share this with their little ones will enjoy the  memories of that other yellow submarine  that it brings back, rather than the current controversy of they said, we said…

Afloat in Venice

Afloat in Venice

Afloat in Venice











Afloat in Venice

Tina Wilson

Matt Ottley

One Tentacle Publishing, 2021

32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99


Long ago when people were allowed to travel where and when they wanted, Monkey decided to take a holiday. First to be packed was his new camera and then everything else he was sure he would need.  Two days in a plane, a long boat ride and a lot of stairs saw him arrive in a city that seemed to grow straight out of the sea!  He was in Venice in Italy.

Almost as soon as he steps pout to explore the city, he meets Clarabella, a friendly cat who offers to show Monkey the sights of the city and they spend the day taking photos of all the iconic places.  But when Monkey drops his camera and it falls into a disappearing gondola, he discovers that there are more important things in his life…

This is a unique book and it is going to appeal to a broad audience, not just those who are familiar with Venice or who have dreams to go there.

Most striking are the  illustrative techniques. Monkey and his friends are soft toys, lovingly knitted by the author’s mother who has also provided the patterns on Monkey’s website, and they are pictured against stunning photographic images of Venice. After being given Monkey as a gift and sharing photos of him with her partner Matt Ottley while they were separated because of work. the author realised that  soft toys are a universal language among adults and children, particularly given the number that have their own Instagram accounts, and that this could be a unique way for readers to travel .when circumstances (not just COVID-19 restrictions) prevented it. Monkey’s adventures were born.

Monkey’s adventures reminded me of the fun we had with hosting exchange teddies back in the early days of the Internet when we could share their adventures in almost real time using the early digital cameras and creating webpages using raw html code. The places those toys could take us once people learned why we were photographing them against particular backdrops!  And what our students learned about the world and their place in it, the friendships made – Monkey and Clarabella epitomise those.

Enriching the experience enormously, partner/composer/illustrator Matt Ottley (winner of the 2021 CBCA Picture Book of the Year ) has composed a soundtrack to accompany the book so that all its nuances are experienced in full sensory mode. There are two tracks – one to accompany the child holding the book and listening to it being read to them;  the other a more extended version to take the whole experience into the world of those with visual disabilities who may have braille for the words but nothing for the pictures. The extended narration and music enable them to ‘see’ the whole thing. These are included with the book as a CD but for those without the equipment, it can be downloaded.

And there are more of Monkey’s adventures to be released in 2022.

This is going to be a stand-out read-aloud and read-alone in your collection because it is that wonderful combination of story and illustrations with characters and situations that its audience will relate to and all the added extras will make Monkey and his friends their friends too.

Train Party

Train Party

Train Party











Train Party

Karen Blair

Puffin, 2020

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


No matter how sophisticated travel gets with electric cars, sleek yachts and even spacecraft, there is still a fascination with the old-fashioned steam train. And for little ones, riding on model trains can be a highlight they remember for ever. 

Still a talking point, 10 years on...

Still a talking point, 10 years on…

So this delightful story about a family birthday at a miniature railway park will be as timeless as its topic, particularly as the clever vocabulary choice means the rhyme and rhythm echoes that iconic clickety clack of wheels over train tracks.

Red, blue and green,

yellow and black.

Here come the trains!


Written and illustrated by the illustrator of some of my favourite stories including the irrepressible Eve of the outback, this is one that little readers will love and demand over and over as they take themselves off on their own train adventure and plan their own party. There’s a map of the track on the endpages so they can see where the children go from the station under the trees, around the old shack, passing the pond, over the bridge… and, of course, through the tunnel. Finally, there’s the birthday cake  – what shape will it be?