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? 

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel











The Wind in the Willows Graphic Novel

Russell Punter & Kenneth Grahame

Xavier Bonet

Usborne, 2021 

104pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


In 1908 British author brought children the story of Mole, Rat and Badger and their efforts to reform the friendly but conceited and mischievous Mr Toad of Toad Hall who is fascinated by the latest fads, particularly motorcars.  But Toad is not the best of drivers and after many mishaps, finds himself in prison for 20 years for stealing a car.  Even though he eventually escapes, during his absence his magnificent Toad Hall has been overtaken by weasels and stoats, and it becomes a battle to get it back.

Now, over 100 years on, it has been interpreted in graphic novel format to appeal to a new generation of readers,  offering them an introduction to this classic story which has delighted so many before.  This is the latest in this series which includes The Wizard of Oz  and The Three Musketeers which opens up a new world of literature from past generations, inspiring independent readers to seek out the original versions. It is fast-paced and funny and has all the ingredients that have enabled it to endure for so long.

You can’t take an elephant on the bus

You Can't Take an Elephant on the Bus

You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus









You can’t take an elephant on the bus

Patricia Cleveland-Peck

David Tazzyman

Bloomsbury, 2021

26pp., board book., RRP $A12.99


You can’t take an elephant on a bus and you shouldn’t put a monkey in a shopping trolley or take a tiger on a train ride.  Because if you do, they will cause havoc and this delightful rhyming story explores the hazards they create.  In fact there is a problem with every mode of transport for these exotic creatures except…

This is a fun-filled story that will have even the gloomiest child laughing out loud and wanting to suggest new ideas.  If you can’t ask a whale to ride a bike, then what would work – or not?  With quirky illustrations that are as funny as the text and a rich vocabulary that has been carefully crafted – the pig’s trotters totter – this is a surefire winner for young readers who are learning about the fun to be had in stories.

Let’s Go! (series)

Let’s Go! (series)

Let’s Go! (series)

On a Plane


On a Digger


Rosalyn Albert

Natalia Moore

Catch a Star 2020 

16pp., board book, RRP $A12.99

This new series of books created for our very youngest readers reflects a new approach that has been emerging in hoard books recently – that of real stories that engage, entertain and even educate our littlies as, at last, the importance of having quality stories for this age group is recognised.  There has been so much research into how critical reading to the very young from birth released, that those who create for this age are now providing more than one-word concept books and the understanding about how print and stories work combined with actually holding the book for themselves is doing so much for early literacy development.  Young readers are demanding stories that relate to them, have context and meaning that is familiar and a physical product that requires input from them rather than being passive recipients,  

So kudos to the publishers  for recognising that our youngest generation need and deserve quality stories that are as entertaining as any screen device placed in front of them. 

This particular 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.