Book Bites: Australia All Over


As our fair land buckles and burns in the grip of vicious summer heat, I can’t help but reflect on how catastrophic events like this remind one of not only the fragility of life but also its unique beauty. Across Australia and indeed the world, humans are rallying to make things better for all the worse they have caused. We are all tiny players in this huge game but I hope titles like these below help highlight the best bits of living in Australia no matter what. They are but snippets of my impressions but hopefully enough to water hope and maintain wonder.  Read on! Dream on!


Eco Rangers Wildfire Rescue
This is the third in the Eco Ranges environmentally charged series and one of the most salient to date. Despite being conceived and written well before the awful bushfire events of late 2019 / early 2020, this episode of Jay and Ebony’s conservational crusade ironically involves bushland under the siege of wildfires and wildlife under stress. It also illuminates a less well-featured Aussie marsupial as one of the main characters, a Ring-tailed Possum. Not since Possum Magic have I enjoyed a possum tail so much! Fast-paced and engaging, Wildfire Rescue is perfect for young wildlife warriors keen to make a difference.

Title: Wildfire Rescue
Author: Candice Lemon-Scott
Illustrator: Aśka
Publisher: New Frontier Publishing, $14.99
Publication Date: January 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN:  9781925594904
For ages: 7+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction

Buy the Book: New Frontier Publishing, Booktopia


Brindabella
An orphaned joey and a lonely little boy form a friendship and an alliance in the unforgiving Australian bush. It’s a union that does not always pair well for others but is full of tenderness and adventure. Eventually the call of the wild prevails and rather like the classic, The Snow Goose, the friends must learn to separate and survive on their own. Their tale however lingers on long after the last page. Seven to twelve-year-olds will find this absorbing. 

Title: Brindabella
Author: Ursula Dubosarsky
Illustrator: Andrew Joyner
Publisher: Allen & Unwin Children’s, $16.99
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781760112042
For ages: 8 – 12
Type: Middle Grade Fiction

Buy the Book: Allen & Unwin, Boomerang Books


Bill Baillie: The Life and Adventures of a Pet Bilby
Artist, Ellis Rowan, was well-known for her paintings of Australian flora. Less is known about the cute little marsupial she adopted and raised as a pet to accompany her on her extensive travels across the Australian desert throughout the early 1890s. This abridged adaptation of Rowan’s original fictional memoir is a fascinating insight into the Australian geography and life of that time and a captivating adventure tale of one cheeky little fellow who always managed to find his way back home.

Title: Bill Baillie: The Life and Adventures of a Pet Bilby.
Author: Ellis Rowan – abridged by Stephanie Owen Reeder
Illustrator: Ellis Rowan
Publisher: NLA, $ 24.99
Publication Date: April 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780642279200
For ages: 7+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction

Buy the Book: NLA Bookshop, Boomerang Books


Counting Our Country
I love how this simple bright board book introduces littlies to some of our Northern Territorial Aussie critters. Long-necked turtles, bull sharks, olive pythons even feral donkeys all get a mention. There’s a nifty pronunciation chart at the back for those who want to work on their Ritharrnu language skills, too. Very cool.

Title: Counting Our Country
Author: Jill Daniels
Illustrator: Jill Daniels
Publisher: Magabala Books, $12.99
Publication Date: February 2020
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781925768657
For ages: 0 – 5
Type: Board Book

Buy the Book: Magabala Books, Boomerang Books


Little Possum
Did I mention a lack of books about possums? This gorgeous touch-and-feel board book not only plays host to cheeky ring-tailed possums but encourages toddlers to feel their way around wallabies, gliders, fairy (little) penguins, and frill-necked lizards! Tactile fun with sturdy-little-finger-proof pages and a handy carry handle that is perfect for little people who love toting around their favourite reading material wherever they go. Love it.

Title: Baby Touch and Feel Little Possum
Author: Roger Priddy
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia, $ 12.99
Publication Date: December 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781783419401
For ages: 0 – 5
Type: Board Book

Buy the Book: Pan Macmillan


I Remember
Grandma is aging, her memory comes in fits and flashes, but she can still recall the times every year, when she was a girl and travelled through the ochre coloured outback to camp with her family. This tale, beautifully illustrated by Jordinson and narrated with kindness by Crawford, will ignite the happy memories of family holidays for many especially those who thrill to be in the great outdoors. A sensitive ode to camping and country that honours the Western Australian landscape.

Title: I Remember
Author: Joanne Crawford
Illustrator: Kerry Anne Jordinson
Publisher: Magabala Books, $17.99
Publication Date: March 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925360769
For ages: 4 – 8
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Magabala Books, Boomerang Books


Trouble In The Surf
Not only is this an attractively illustrated and engagingly written picture book thanks to the accomplished partnership of Stewart and Reeder but it also deftly weaves an alluring tale around the real-life incident where Charles Kingsford Smith nearly drowned in a rip in the surf off Bondi Beach in 1907. He and his cousin, Rupert became part of history that day purportedly spurring the formation of the Bondi Surf Life Savers. Although Charlie’s story ended in the relieved arms of his mother, readers can learn what happened next as Charles went on to become one of Australia’s acclaimed pioneering aviators thanks to the comprehensive fact pages at the end of the book. Highly recommended classroom reading.

Title: Trouble in the Surf
Author: Stephanie Owen Reeder
Illustrator: Briony Stewart
Publisher: NLA, $24.99
Publication Date: October 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780642279460
For ages: 5+
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: NLA Bookshop


My Australia
Visually breathtaking, poetically lyrical, My Australia sums up the very essence of our beautiful, bewitching and dramatically demanding homeland. Murphy’s narrative cascades through arresting spreads of Fleming’s stunning artwork. Town and country are equally represented in this beguiling picture book which could double as coffee-table centre piece. Love it.

Title: My Australia
Author: Julie Murphy
Illustrator: Garry Fleming
Publisher: NLA, $24.99
Publication Date: April 2018
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9780642279163
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: NLA Bookshop


Mrs White and the Red Desert
A visually stimulating statement of life in the heart of our red land. Entertaining and sweet, told effortlessly through the eyes of one of its young inhabitants describing a visit by the very clean Mrs White to their outback home for dinner. Prewett’s painted illustrations sweep through the pages with joyful purpose and movement while Boyle’s descriptive narrative paints word pictures just as boldly. A true delight that I’m sure will ‘educate’ many city-based kids about the outback as surely as it does Mrs White.

Title: Mrs White and the Red Desert
Author: Josie Boyle
Illustrator: Maggie Prewett
Publisher: Magabala Books, $17.99
Publication Date: April 2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925360578
For ages: 4 – 8
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Magabala Books


On The Way To Nana’s
Nana's place is a long long road trip away through the breathtaking Kimberley region. But just like the best road trips, this one is made mega interesting thanks to an adventurous road sign countdown game. Number counting is brilliantly supported by dynamic, energetic illustrations. Even if you don’t have a 1000 km+ journey ahead of you, this is a brilliant way to keep young minds and eyes alert.

Title: On The Way To Nana’s
Author: Frances and Lindsay Haji-Ali
Illustrator: David Hardy
Publisher: Magabala Books, $17.99
Publication Date: June 2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781925360301
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Magabala Books


Australian Baby Animals
Australia boasts a plethora of astounding animals with exceptionally cute babies to boot. Even a Tasmanian devil joey evokes a cuddle once you get past the snarling. Lessac’s informative text is chatty enough to keep even the youngest of readers hooked as they are guided through rainbow-bright pages of birds, marsupials, reptiles and monotremes. This guide is super for boosting baby animal nomenclature and recognition in under 6-year-olds.

Title: Australian Baby Animals
Author: Frané Lessac
Illustrator: Frané Lessac
Publisher: Walker Books Australia, $24.99
Publication Date: December 2019
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781760651756
For ages: 2 – 6
Type: Picture Book

Buy the Book: Walker Books Australia,

Comments

Candice said…
Thanks Dimity, poignant timing so hoping the Ebony and Jay’s next adventure and wildlife rescue inspires our young Eco Rangers. Nice to be listed among such beautiful books!
DimbutNice said…
Agreed, Candice. Loved this book and I hope it inspires our young (and old) Eco warriors as well. D x
Norah Colvin said…
Thanks for sharing this lovely list of Australian books, Dimity. Many I have not yet read. I'll have to change that soon.
DimbutNice said…
You're welcome, Norah. Another year full of reading for you!!

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