Definately a book targetted at the 'girlie girl' market - with plenty of pink, dancing, tutus, and brothers! But despite the wrapping the story is universal - don't limit your goals to what seems possible.
As always Jackie provides insight into the inspiration for the story on her website.(less)
Hmmm... The back of my version claims "A classic Australian board book"... What is a 'classic' book in the world of children's literature. I'm thinkin...moreHmmm... The back of my version claims "A classic Australian board book"... What is a 'classic' book in the world of children's literature. I'm thinking that at the very least a children's book can't be referred to as a classic until someone who grew up reading the book is now reading the same book to their kids. So books like Alice in Wonderland, The House at Pooh Corner, the Railway Series by the Awdrys (Thomas the Tank Engine) the earlier Seuss and A Bear Called Paddington would easily be classics. Books now coming into the 'classic' category would be things like: Possum Magic, Animalia, Each Peach Pear Plum, Where's Spot?.... A book first published only 3 years ago surely doesn't make it into a classic category!
Enough of that rant...
This is a relatively simple counting book with a plain page with the relevant number of Australian animals painted onto it. The paintings themselves are the key to the success of this book - and as I reviewed in the alphabet version (An Australian ABC of Animals) I'm not a huge fan. But very many people will love the illustrations. (less)
This is the sequel to "The Bilbies' First Easter" which I have not read.
I wasn't a fan of this book - too preachy for my liking.
I found the illustrati...moreThis is the sequel to "The Bilbies' First Easter" which I have not read.
I wasn't a fan of this book - too preachy for my liking.
I found the illustrations inexplicably dark and brooding - yes portions of it are set underground - but large sections of the book are supposed to be joyful celebration of Easter. And I prefer Michael Salmon's bilbies any day!
There is nothing like people who think they are famous just because they've hosted a subscription TV show (in a country where only 22% of households a...moreThere is nothing like people who think they are famous just because they've hosted a subscription TV show (in a country where only 22% of households are connected to subscription TV, and only 13% of TV viewing is on subscription channels). But given the Aussie nature of this book I'm sure the real target market is in the US...
I love the idea of using indigenous Australian ingredients in cooking. Look at the success of macadamia nuts and lemon myrtle as two fantastic examples of Australian natives that taste great, and have become 'normal' ingredients. This book looks at the Outback Pride company, which is working with indigenous communities to source fantastic plant-based ingredients. It profiles each of these communities, and the different plants they are producing. Through this you are exposed in a fairly limited way to the outback communities of Australia - and some amazing ingredients. Most of these community and ingredient profiles are available on the Outback Pride website.
The key problem is sourcing these ingredients. The Outback Pride group have moved well away from simply supplying unprocessed ingredients to creating sauces, relishes, dried spice mixes, pickles and cordials. This really is smart business sense - because 1. they don't need to educate the public significantly about how to use the products and 2. they can mark up the price significantly, 3. they don't need to deal with perishable foods. They do produce a range of dried herbs and spices (Lemon Myrtle, Mountain Pepper, ground wattleseed, etc) - which would be useful in some of these recipes (and in cooking generally). But finding fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs such as Illawarra plums, warrigal greens, desert limes, marsdenias, muntries really is a difficult undertaking. If you want these ingredients you are left searching for places to source seeds to grow them in you backyard (and cursing the fact that frosty winters and clay soils don't agree with many of these predominantly desert-dwelling plants!)
So what you are left with is a feel-good book that is pretty much practically useless. (less)
In this alphabet book there is an illustration on one animal for each letter.
Given the simple design and idea - the success of this book really hinge...moreIn this alphabet book there is an illustration on one animal for each letter.
Given the simple design and idea - the success of this book really hinges on Bronwyn Bancroft's detailed artwork. I'm not a fan. I just found the incredibly intricate illustrations of the animals in too stark a contrast with the solid single colour background. That being said I'm sure many will enjoy the art - and thus enjoy this simple alphabet book.(less)
Like many of the early 1980s Australian children's books this is over-the-top Australian. I'm putting this book in the same category as Possum Magic,...moreLike many of the early 1980s Australian children's books this is over-the-top Australian. I'm putting this book in the same category as Possum Magic, Wombat Stew, Sail Away The Ballad of Skip and Nell, Edward the Emu, etc. These books celebrated that, except for some notable exceptions, Australians were for the first time able to share Aussie picture books with their kids. But by the same token I don't think this is purely a celebration of Australian stories. I'm sure the export market for cute Australian animals was a huge contributing factor to these stories being produced - particularly after the success of the "throw another shrimp on the barbie" tourist campaign in the US starting in 1984. It is good to see local stories reflected in the what you see and read - a summer Christmas, Australian animals, etc. But lots of times these books feel a little self-conscious and portraying a cliched view (ala Crocodile Dundee, and more recently the Crocodile Hunter), rather than truely reflecting Australian life.
But anyway off that rant.
This is a cute counting book - with beautiful illustrations featuring Australian animals, plants and landscapes.
Something unusual is that this book keeps counting after it reaches ten - hitting the heady heights of 14!
When ever I see the Goanna Recipes book in the '9' illustration - I always think they are recipes for eating goanna, rather than recipes for what a goanna would like to eat!(less)
This was the 1977 Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year.
Rose is an elderly widow, supported by John Brown her talking Old Engl...moreThis was the 1977 Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year.
Rose is an elderly widow, supported by John Brown her talking Old English Sheepdog. Rose sees a regular visit, the Midnight Cat, outside each night, and John Brown feels the cat is going to destroy his special relationship with Rose.
I'm not a fan.
The story is excessively sentimental - although I did like the jealousy of John Brown.
I didn't like the cross-hatched illustrations by Ron Brooks
The ending stretches the suspension of disbelief in the extreme.(less)
Graeme Base's first book. You can certainly see from this effort the beginnings of the amazing illustrations he would become famous for in Animalia an...moreGraeme Base's first book. You can certainly see from this effort the beginnings of the amazing illustrations he would become famous for in Animalia and Eleventh Hour.
It would be interesting to see if this book would get up in these more puritanical times - emus getting rollickingly drunk on eucalyptus wine; a goanna, dingo and rat gambling in the living room; hitchhiking to the coast.
The lush colour illustrations feature the Base trademark of escaping from the frame.
Favourite toys make for excellent characters in childrens books.
I love the interaction between Ducky, the toy duck,...moreFantastic for a number of reasons:
Favourite toys make for excellent characters in childrens books.
I love the interaction between Ducky, the toy duck, and the real water fowl.
I love that the book respects the intelligence of the kids and includes a variety of different water fowl, all of which could easily be found the in a park pond in Australia (which is almost certainly the Ornamental Lake at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne)
Which leads me to - I love finding recognisable landmarks in picture books. Later we can visit with X-man and say Ducky visited here (or Alexander fell down a hole here). Not only is the Botanic Gardens recognisable, the 'museum' is almost certainly based on the Royal Exhibition Building.
Finally I like a story about introducing a new baby which is primarily about the older sibling - rather than focussing on the new baby! (less)
This would be a fantastic book for a child who has lost their favourite toy.
Sydney Walton Mouse is a much loved toy, with an occasionally forgetful fa...moreThis would be a fantastic book for a child who has lost their favourite toy.
Sydney Walton Mouse is a much loved toy, with an occasionally forgetful family. He gets the opportunity to go to his favourite place in the whole world - Antarctica! While there he accidentally gets left behind - which was very scary. But soon he finds new friends and has amazing adventures.(less)
I remember owning Space Demons by Gillian Rubinstein, which was her first book. It was one of those 1980's trapped-in-a-video-game stories - but the m...moreI remember owning Space Demons by Gillian Rubinstein, which was her first book. It was one of those 1980's trapped-in-a-video-game stories - but the main thing I remember was the cover with the stereotypical 1980's "computer" font... Based on this I thought I'd try out some of her picture book work on my son.
The story explains how Jase expands his bachelor pad shed to include a wife, one kid, two kids, and then various parts of the extended family. Sharon has the constant refrain "'Jase, we need more space / We'll have to move to a bigger place.'" - Jase replies by building another extension on the house.
Gillian Rubinstein's text not only tells this interesting tale - it has perfect rhyming and timing. I love the stereotypical Aussie names - Shazza and Jase, and the (relatively) subtle hints that this book is set in South-East Queensland.
David Mackintosh has done a great job at illustrating cramped living. There is plenty of detail to pick out in multiple readings = I love Grandpa's safari suits! (less)
Matt Dray doesn't have the Early Childhood Education degree, Literature Masters and Doctorate examining the impact of parent-guided early childhood re...moreMatt Dray doesn't have the Early Childhood Education degree, Literature Masters and Doctorate examining the impact of parent-guided early childhood reading on educational outcomes. But he has developed a great story, and, as a garbage dump employee, has an in-depth understanding of an environment that fascinates all kids.
I loved going to the dump as a kid: the man-made mountains, all the interesting things people threw out, the huge machines and that smell - yuck! These days Occupational Health and Safety considerations mean that you can't get within a kilometer of the tip face at most metropolitan dumps. Fortunately our local one conducts tours during school holidays - X-man was madly pointing out the bus window at the big machines!
Set against the backdrop of the dump are the real stars of the show - Dougal (the bear) and Bumble (the bee) - who are adopted by the truck drivers at the dump. They life the lifestyle of the drivers - vegemite sandwiches and iced coffee for lunch, rushing for the airconditioned cab of the truck during hot days, and heading out on a Friday night for a few 'ginger beers' (and sleeping it off the next day).
The book is set up as a scrapbook. Not one of those fancy ones where people spend huge amounts of time and money creating something perfect - this is more a 'found objects' scrapbook - with masking tape holding the roughly cut out photos, a scatter of dissicated coconut from the lamington, sand from the beach - and of course the flys from the dump!
The text itself was a little wordy - He's put over 200 words on the first 3 pages, well over Mem Fox's target of less than 500 words over the 32 pages of a early childhood picture book. And the plot is a bit all over the place (one review I've read by an 8 year old asked whether Matt Dray was drunk when writing it to create such a story). So it is never going to match the best of Dr Seuss, Mem Fox or Janet Ahlberg and Allan Ahlberg - with every word agonised over and carefully selected. But then again as adults we often enjoy the rollicking tales of Matthew Reilly or Michael Crichton over the carefully constructed prose of William Shakespeare!
There must be a competition amoungst those who entertain kids to find the most unlikely animal and make it cute and cuddly. The Lion King did pretty w...moreThere must be a competition amoungst those who entertain kids to find the most unlikely animal and make it cute and cuddly. The Lion King did pretty well with Pumbaa the warthog and Mole and Toad from The Wind in the Willows are a perennial favourite. Now someone has managed to make an emu cute!! (less)
This book is over 20 years old now - so it is it is useful more as a book of suggested walks than a turn-by-turn guide. Also the maps in this book are...moreThis book is over 20 years old now - so it is it is useful more as a book of suggested walks than a turn-by-turn guide. Also the maps in this book are completely shocking - so you will definately need a proper topographic map, even on the shorter walks.
Large numbers of these walks were affected by the 2003 fires, but most if not all are now accessable again.(less)
Of course now this book is 18 years old some of the information is out of date, here's some info that I know... * Ginninderra Falls is no longer open to the public. * The Woodlands Walk on Black Mountain still exists, however some of the directional signs are missing - the information signs are mostly still there and are very informative. Also the works to upgrade Caswell Drive have modified the access/carparking arrangements. * Similarly the access the the Cork Oak Plantation has been blocked by the construction works to create the Canberra International Arboretum and Gardens - access is now best from the "Black Mountain Reserve" carpark accessed off William Hovell Drive heading towards the city. * The pine forests around Blue Range Camp were all destroyed in the 2003 bushfires - completely changing the atmosphere around the camp. Similarly the ski chalet on Mt Franklin was destroyed - only to be replaced by a beautifully architectually designed shelter, that doesn't actually provide any shelter at all! * Tidbinbilla was also largely destroyed by the fires - significant work has been conducted since to rehabilitate the area - check with the Tidbinbilla vistor's centre on the status of the walk you want to do.(less)
A fantastic picture book that teaches to much in a fun way.
Initially you get introduced to the farm and its residents. Then we follow the activities o...moreA fantastic picture book that teaches to much in a fun way.
Initially you get introduced to the farm and its residents. Then we follow the activities of the farm month by month through a complete year.
You could use this book as a springboard into a conversation about: Months of the year Seasons - the seasons are even the right way around (for us "antipodeans") Life and Death Farming Eating food in season Impacts of feral animals Drought/importance of water
Andrew McLean does an outstanding job in capturing lots of action and information in the vignettes.(less)
Read this book before you read it to your young child!
Magpie has recently developed a disability (a burnt wing, meaning she'll never fly again) and th...moreRead this book before you read it to your young child!
Magpie has recently developed a disability (a burnt wing, meaning she'll never fly again) and the early parts of this book portray Magpie going through the grieving process for the loss of a major part of her life. Dog has been through something like this before - he has lost the use of one eye - and supports Magpie through this process. The Dog/Magpie friendship is cemented in this adversity.
Enter the title character... Fox is the stuff of nightmares.
Provides some inspiration and ideas for encouraging kids to explore the outdoors.
I was initially uninspired by this book - the usual pseudo legalese d...moreProvides some inspiration and ideas for encouraging kids to explore the outdoors.
I was initially uninspired by this book - the usual pseudo legalese disclaimers about safety being paramount, the importance of supervision, etc, etc got to me. Also the age-related lists (here's what you could do with a 2 year old, 3 year old, etc) seemed boring and prescriptive.
Then we got out of the introductory sections and into the meat of the book - and this is where the book began to shine. Many of the ideas just reinforce what you would already do - blow dandelions, splash in puddles, run naked in the rain, go for bushwalks and allow time to reflect outdoors... But some of the ideas I found original and inspiring - silkworms, bean or snail racing and the mixing of outdoors and food are highlights!
This is the second in the series - with the original Small Fry providing ideas for cook with kids.(less)
A fascinating history of skiing in the Brindabella Ranges near Canberra, Australia - the focus is on the peak of skiing activities between the 1930s a...moreA fascinating history of skiing in the Brindabella Ranges near Canberra, Australia - the focus is on the peak of skiing activities between the 1930s and 1960s. Since the 1960s Canberra-based skiiers have increasingly moved to the more reliable snow and longer season of the Snowy Mountains.
Primarily it is a history of the Canberra Alpine Club, with some coverage of the Royal Military College ski club.
I was constantly thinking through this book "how times have changed": * The very-small-town atmosphere of Canberra in the 1920s and 30s (population 15,000 - now its 350,000) * Sitting on the back of a truck (on an open tray) up a slippery narrow mountain road * Clearing trees from what would be a ski run (in what is now a National Park) - with dynamite! * the complete lack of distinction between downhill and cross-country skiing
This is a local "history", with limited appeal to those outside Canberra.
Historians work from a distance - providing as objective view of events with...moreThis is a local "history", with limited appeal to those outside Canberra.
Historians work from a distance - providing as objective view of events with a perspective allowed by the passing of time.
Hancock is a bit-part character in this story - being one of 14 "concerned citizens" who challenged the construction of Black Mountain Tower in court. Thus this story is not told by an objective observer. This book was published prior to any real outcome - the tower was under construction, however the High Court had yet to hear an appeal regarding the case. Thus the passage of time did not provide perspective on events. Thus this is not a "history", although W.K. Hancock claims to be a historian.
To me Black Mountain Tower has always been there - we still always have a competition to see who will see it first driving into Canberra (to the point where my wife and I know the exact corner or hill crest!). Thus the idea that it was controversial when planned and constructed never really occured to me. Reading Graeme Barrow's books about walking around Canberra first introduced me to the vitriol some held towards the tower, and The Monster That Ate Canberra illustrated what existed there before. This struck me as an element of Canberra history I should learn more about - and thus I found this book.
Not only does it suffer from not having a satisfactory conclusion, and having a completely one-eyed writer - this book is simply boring. The writer is a historian, not a lawyer - yet most of the book is spent labouring through our narrator's layman understanding of the intricate legal arguments of both sides. Yawn! From my layman's understanding of the author's layman's understanding it seems at the conclusion of the book their only hope lay in the fact that the 1,000,000 tourists a year driving up Black Mountain Drive might prevent access to those hoping for a nice walk through nature - thus creating a "public nuisance". Well 30 years after construction they are still managing only 400,000 visitors - and I've never seen a proper traffic jam that blocks access anywhere in Canberra - let alone on this minor back road. It seems ironic that the anti-development side was relying on a road slashed through a nature park to save their case!
At the end of the day the simple clean lines of Black Mountain Tower are eminently preferrable to the alternative proposed by Hancock - a tower of the same height as Black Mountain Tower, on the same site - but a guyed steel lattice tower, one of the ugliest and utilitarian constructions ever devised!(less)
I picked this up because I think Mem Fox has a good hit/miss ratio... The cover I have isn't immediately christmassy, and I thought Wombat Divine was...moreI picked this up because I think Mem Fox has a good hit/miss ratio... The cover I have isn't immediately christmassy, and I thought Wombat Divine was referring to an especially good wombat - so I was initially suprised that this was a Christmas book.
This book has everything you could ask for - great illustrations, a smidge of rhythm and rhyme, Trouble, and the happy ending.
Three small aspects that I really liked: * The small-town Hall where the Nativity Play is held - this is almost certainly a Memorial Hall, and they are found in just about every small town in Australia. * The second last page has the holly wrapping paper and the fake pine Christmas tree - so out of place in the Australian bush! * Platypus snoozing off the pudding in the corner after a long Christmas day!(less)
**spoiler alert** This book is about a quest by Louis Pasteur (of pasteurization fame) to win a lucrative prize finding an effective biological contro...more**spoiler alert** This book is about a quest by Louis Pasteur (of pasteurization fame) to win a lucrative prize finding an effective biological control to Australia's rabbit plague in 1888.
The first half of the book takes an incredibly long time to explain a pretty simple concept - Pasteur critically needed the money from the prize to fund his Institut Pasteur which was in its formative stages. The commission set up to judge the prize displayed significant conflict of interest and bias. The second half of the book seemed less laboured and was a significantly easier read.
In the interests of maintaining the Pasteur camp as the "good guys" in the story Stephen Dando-Collins seems to excessively play down some seemingly ligitimate concerns of the commission. Since the Rabbit Commission Australia has had a checkered history with biological control, so stringent (unbiased) testing and the use of the precautionary principle seem justified to me.
It is interesting to contemplate the alternate history if Pasteur had won the Rabbit Prize and the chicken cholera microbe had been introduced in th 1890s. The first biological control for rabbits was introduced in 1950 (Myxomatosis), which was highly successful at the time with an estimated 90% of rabbits destroyed. Resistance has developed over time and rabbits continue to be a problem in Australia.
A heart wrenching but ultimately inspirational story of the refugee experience. What suprised me was that the post-settlement period was perhaps even...moreA heart wrenching but ultimately inspirational story of the refugee experience. What suprised me was that the post-settlement period was perhaps even more heart wrenching than the difficult times as a refugee.
The recipes look fantastic - and will certainly be making an appearance on our dining table soon! I love the stories behind the recipes - by eating the food you almost become part of the continuation of the narrative.
Bob Hawke is the longest serving Labor Party Prime Minister - and was in the top job for 9 of my earliest years... As such I remember him through the...moreBob Hawke is the longest serving Labor Party Prime Minister - and was in the top job for 9 of my earliest years... As such I remember him through the prism of childhood - only the vaguest understanding politics and the issues, a healthy dose of "respecting elders" and maybe a touch of hero worship.
The antics of the post-political career have cause the fake tan to rub off a little - the confirmation of his infidelity, the divorce, marrying the mistress and those terrible matching white terry-towelling robes!
So it was interesting to find this book - featuring pictures of the man himself with "amusing" fake captions and speech bubbles. Often these are a bit hit and miss - and I'm afraid there were more misses than hits in this case. To be fair I was struggling to recognise many of the other personalities featured - if they haven't continued to be in the public eye (Keating, Howard, Beazley, etc) then the jokes went wizzing above my head. Also many of the jokes may have been referring to issues-of-the-day which are now long forgotten!(less)
We've stopped many times at this icon, opened by the Prime Minister in 1932, but have been dismayed that the old kiosk and public toilets located around the statue have been closed, and replaced by a modern (sterile) centre 100m down the road.
This is a story of Rufus the Red Kangaroo who growing up and becoming independent. This story is overlain on the canvas of life in the desert - a long...moreThis is a story of Rufus the Red Kangaroo who growing up and becoming independent. This story is overlain on the canvas of life in the desert - a long drought followed by soaking, life-giving rains.
The references to Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) reflect that this book was published in 1970. There are repeated references to climbing the rock, which was incredibly popular for tourists. However these days the requests of the local Aṉangu people to not climb the rock are much more visible, and the popularity of the climb has deminished dramatically as a result.(less)