I imagine that I’m among many Australians when I say that I grew up being read fantastic Australian stories. With such striking landscapes, adorable (and sometimes dangerous!) animals, diverse people and cultures, Australia is certainly rich with stories.
This is my last month in Australia before I head over to Thailand for a year. It seems like the perfect time to share some of my favourite Australian children’s books, both old and new.
The Bush Jumper
Written by Jean Chapman, illustrated by Ali Beck.
What happens when you are knitting a jumper, but you run out of yellowy-yellow wool before you finish the last sleeve? You knit a rainbow striped sleeve of course!
Well, Mitti’s mother thought that was a good idea, but Mitti is not so sure. Mitti runs into the bush upset, and all her friends want to try on her jumper! But will it fit echidna, emu and wombat?
The illustrations are gorgeous and each character’s emotions are so well depicted. It is set in the Australian bush and emphasises the colours of the plants found there.
This is a sweet book for 2 – 5 year olds that encourages children to embrace their unique self. It also had my son laughing every time we read it.
In fact my son loved it so much that his Nanny made him his very own Bush Jumper!
By Jeannie Baker.
Oh Jeannie Baker, what a legend. I have a few of her books and it was a tough choice to pick just one for this post!
Mirror is a very unique wordless picture book. When you open it up it forms two separate books inside which are designed to be read side by side; one that opens to the left and one that opens to the right.
The pages on the left depict a family in Australia. On the right is a family in Morocco, North Africa.
The story shows a day in the life of each family. At first glimpse they seem very different from each other. But as you look more closely you can see things that connect them.
As Jeannie says in the intro, ‘Some things are the same for families no matter where they live.’
The illustrations are truly amazing. Each image is an intricate collage using natural and artificial materials like sand, fabric, paint and plants.
Recommended for all ages above 2.
Written by Marcia K Vaughan, illustrated by Pamela Lofts.
This is one of my childhood favourites. The rhyme and rhythm of this story is so brilliant that it will often stay in my head for days after reading it!
It is a story about a Dingo who catches a wombat and decides to make wombat stew. Other Australian animals then come along and suggest items which should go in his stew, like mud, feathers and bugs. Will the stew be delicious, and will wombat get eaten for lunch?
If you live in Australia there is a good chance you have read this book before. If you have, get it out and read it again! It’s just as good as it seemed in 1984 (the first year of publication).
If you live outside of Australia and haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it!
For ages 2 – 5.
Written by Sally Morgan.
This book is unlike any other juvenile fiction I have read before. It is a novel written in poems, which tells the tale of a young Aboriginal girl who is stolen from her family and taken to live in an institution.
The story is so gripping that I wanted to quickly turn each page, yet the rhythm and language of the poems are written so well that they forced me to slow down and savour each line.
It is a tale of struggle, friendship, and ultimately, hope.
Sister Heart was Shortlisted and awarded the Honour Book by The Children’s Book Council of Australia for 2016.
This book is for older children aged 7 – 12.