Quote of the week about literacy by Mem Fox

“The fire of literacy is created by the emotional sparks between a child, a book, and the person reading. It isn’t achieved by the book alone, nor by the child alone, nor by the adult who’s reading aloud—it’s the relationship winding between all three, bringing them together in easy harmony.” Mem Fox 

from Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever  

Read my reviews of some of Mem Fox's fabulous books:


The Readings Children’s Book Prize shortlist

The Readings Children’s Book Prize 2016 Shortlist has been announced!

 The shortlist is:
  • The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey 
  • Samurai vs Ninja: The Battle for the Golden Egg by Nick Falk and Tony Flowers 
  • Run, Pip, Run by J.C. Jones 
  • 88 Lime Street by Denise Kirby 
  • The Cat with the Coloured Tail by Gillian Mears and Dinalie Dabarera 
  • Mister Cassowary by Samantha Wheeler 

The winner of The Readings Children’s Book Prize will be announced in June 2016.

You can read individual comments for each shortlisted book at Readings.

The Readings Children’s Book Prize was established in 2014 to recognize and celebrate books that families love reading together. The Prize aims to raise the profile of Australian authors.

Have you read any of these 2016 shortlisted books because we would love to read your comments here.

This is linked up at Read with Me 2016 #18


Patterns of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft

review of Patterns of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft
Cover of Patterns of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft

AUTHOR: Bronwyn Bancroft

ARTIST: Bronwyn Bancroft

STORY: This vibrant picture book is about the diverse and beautiful landscapes that make up Australia and the way Bronwyn Bancroft sees them: patterns of the Bush, patterns of the Night, the Desert, the River, the Wetlands and more.

Iluustrations from Patterns of Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft

ILLUSTRATIONS: the illustrations are strongly influenced, as always with Bronwyn Bancroft, by the artwork style of our Aboriginal ancestors.

Animals disappear in the bush, becoming part of their surroundings. Maybe you can see an echidna, a frill-necked lizard, a rock wallaby, a magpie, a sugar glider, a red goshawk, a wedge-tailed eagle, a blue-tongued lizard, a blue wren and skinks.
WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: The bright and beautiful illustrations can be enjoyed for what they are or explored even further, with the text, to add a further depth to each page. Traditional Aboriginal art has two layers the same as this book - the outer story and also the sacred story which is often hidden and only seen by people from the particular clan. Bronwyn Bancroft uses this idea to add layers to what initially appear as colourful patterns on each page. On further inspection other Australian animals and creatures can be found.

RECOMMENDED: 4 for year olds and older

PUBLISHER: Little Hare 2006

English for the Australian Curriculum Year 1 unit
Explore some Aboriginal Art

Patterns of Australia in Hardcover or Paperback from Amazon



AUTHOR: Libby Gleeson
ARTIST: Freya Blackwood

STORY: The story is told by a child on an Australian farm about Old Banjo the "best chook dog" they've ever had - a classic, black and white, Aussie working dog . One of Banjo's daily jobs is the chook roundup but the head-strong chook Ruby Red does not like to comply.  In this flat sparse landscape all the action is around the chook shed. Then one day something happens to change all that. Banjo cannot find Ruby Red and after an extensive search he finds what appears to be a lifeless chook and we wonder will Ruby Red survive?

After one reading of the book you come to love the dedicated, determined, curious, intelligent and loyal Banjo as well as the freedom loving chicken.

See more of Freya's illustrations on her blog

ILLUSTRATIONS: Freya Blackwood's style of obvious outlines is perfect for this story showing movement in the animals and the rundown condition of the property with it's outdoor sheds, barn and toilet. There is lots of action to captivate young readers with chickens squawking and flying and the dog running, jumping and barking and then the sad dog, portraying so much emotion with the flat seemingly lifeless chicken. The illustrations perfectly capture the endearing personalities of the boisterous Banjo and the defiant Ruby Red through mixed media of oil paints, charcoal and laser printing on watercolour paper. The colours are the greens and browns of the Australian landscape.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: It is a story of quiet perseverance, and of love and connection between strange bedfellows where the natural enemies of dog and bird become friends.
The book perfectly captures part of the Australian spirit by taking you into the world of an Australian farm through the telling of an unusual tale in a matter of fact way.
The two main characters show us something about Australians: Banjo's nature is a bit of a larrikin who is hard working and shows mateship, and determination in hard times. He is a mixture of the legendary male archetypes of the Aussie Bushman, the Digger, the Bronze Lifesaver!
Ruby Red's nature displays the Australian love of freedom and not wanting to be told what to do. We want to do our own thing in our own way.


Bark. Bark. Bark
Squark. Squark. Squark.

Chooks fly into their yard, peck at
the ground and settle on their roosts.

Except Ruby Red.

RECOMMENDED: for 4 year olds and older

AWARDS: The Children's Book Council of Australia Honour Book 2014

PUBLISHER: Little Hare Books

See more of Libby Gleeson's illustrations of Banjo and RUBY RED 
Banjo and Ruby Red Scholastic Teacher's Notes
PETAA Teacher's Notes:  Australian Curriculum: English Foundation, Year 1.
Banjo & Ruby Red Teacher Notes - Lamont Books


From Amazon

This review is shared at:
Read with Me 2016 #18
Read With Me 2016 #18

Read With Me 2016 #18
Booknificient Thursdays


What C.S. Lewis said about children's books

“A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”   ~    C.S. Lewis

I am a lover of all books including map books, ancient religious texts and training manuals but most of all I do love children's books - the ones I read growing up such as The Chronicles of Narnia and The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill and the ones I read and review now. This quote from Clive Staples Lewis explains a little why I love these books:

According to Tolkien the appeal of the fairy story lies in the fact that man there most fully exercises his function as a “subcreator”; not, as they love to say now, making a “comment upon life” but making, so far as possible, a subordinate world of his own. Since, in Tolkien’s view, this is one of man’s proper functions, delight naturally arises whenever it is successfully performed. For Jung, fairy tale liberates Archetypes which dwell in the collective unconscious, and when we read a good fairy tale we are obeying the old precept “Know thyself.”

So by going into these created worlds I am learning about myself... Interesting. The imaginative power of fantasy creations reflect the human condition and simultaneously satisfy a deep primal need.

C.S. Lewis on  children's books

These quotes are from On Three Ways Of Writing For Children by C. S Lewis a talk given in 1952 at the Library Association and later published in his book Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories


This article is shared at Booknificient Thursdays


15 Australian books to read before you're two

These books are in no particular order and represent some, but not all, of the books I read to babies and one year old children. I read them because the young children seem to love them and I also enjoy reading them. Then again I am such a strong believer that reading to young children can cure all the ills of the world that I think that even reading a newspaper to babies is worthwhile... that is if you can't access these wonderful stories...

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox seems to be universally loved for it's sense of humour and images and repetition of the title question.

Australian toddlers dancing, laughing and doing all the things that toddlers do best. It's a great book for talking about the things your toddler likes to do. And there's a mirror in the back for playing peek-a-boo.

I Went Walking by Sue Williams and Julie Vivas
I went walking. What did you see? I saw a black cat Looking at me. So begins this adventure about meeting many animals. Illustrator Julie Vivas's whimsical paintings lend a touch of humour to Sue William's simple and educational story. Children will enjoy identifying the animals and colours, and reciting the rhythmical text over and over.

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

The Two-Hearted Numbat by Ambelin and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

When I Was a Baby by Deborah Niland. When I was a baby I snuggled in my blanket. Now I am a big boy.  I have a new baby sister... I gave her my blanket.

Baby Ways by Nola Allen and Margaret Robson Kett has beautiful photos of Aussie babies and their favourite things.  The words can be said or sung to the tune of Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush, making it a perfect book for sharing at home or in the classroom. And there is a mirror in the back of the board books for playing peek-a-boo.

 Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox and Emma Quay a soothing bedtime story about elephants.

Hello Baby! by Mem Fox beautifully displays an animal a page and is about the connection between parent and child.

Yellow is my favourite colour by Judy Horacek simply celebrates the colour yellow.

Itsy-Bitsy Babies by Margaret Wild.
All the itsy bitsy babies are warm and snug.
All the itsy bitsy babies want to hug, hug, hug!
All the itsy bitsy babies are full of bliss.
All the itsy bitsy babies want to kiss, kiss, kiss!

Goodnight Me by Andrew Daddo & Emma Quay. A gentle night time story about a baby orangutan sending his body off to sleep with soft pictures and a lilting rhythm.

My dad by Jeanette Rowe.


Noni the Pony by Alison Lester
A board book edition of this rhyming pony story for young children about Noni the nicest pony any little child could ever hope to meet.

These book suggestions were shared at  Kid Lit Blog Hop the Homeschool Link Up


Hasel and Rose by Caroline Magerl

Review of Hasel and Rose by Caroline Magerl
The cover of Hasel and Rose.
AUTHOR: Caroline Magerl
ARTIST: Caroline Magerl
STORY: This book explores the feelings of belonging and yearning and loss and hope.  Hasel and Rose is a story about optimism and hope and finding friendship. Author and illustrator Caroline Magerl has captured these feelings beautifully and uniquely in her very first book.
Really the book tells two stories. The text describes Rose’s story of a new home, her family, her longing for the ‘wish thing’, her family's help and how she eventually makes a new friend. The other story is about how Hasel gets to Rose, which is shown only in a series of illustrations spread throughout the book.

Hasel and Rose by Caroline Magerl
Rose, with her family in her new home, looking out the window.
ILLUSTRATIONS: The scratchy pen and ink lines and the subtle tones of the watercolour wash add to the unusual quality and tone of the book.

But when Rose was alone behind the door
of her room, she looked out at things small
and far away and she wished...
but the wish thing did not come.

RECOMMENDED: for 5 year olds and older

WHY I LIKE THE BOOK: The story leaves a lot of room for imaginative understanding.  This is achieved through Caroline Magerl’s delicate touch and what she has left out of the story. Many things are not explained in depth so when Rose has a wish that wish is not specified and when Hasel arrives we don't find out much about her except that
"inside her was a red glass heart
for finding things small and far away..."
The book allows room for connecting with our own feelings. This is also achieved by the wish and other things not being articulated in the book but are instead expressed through illustration. The separate journey of Hasel across the water has no words of explanation so we can only imagine where Hasel has come from and how she got into her box and who is missing her now.
The story does not underestimate children’s emotional intelligence, instead it actually helps them use their own abilities to understand difficult feelings like being new, and feeling like you don't fit in and wanting something and achieving it.

PUBLISHER: Penguin Viking Australia July 2014

EXTENSION: Teacher's Notes for grade 2 (PDF)

Find out more about Caroline Magerl at her own website.


Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards since 2003

Here you will find a list of books recommended by Speech Pathology Australia. They are considered the best Australian children's books for language and literacy development.

Each award is based on the book’s appeal to children, interactive quality and ability to assist speech pathologists and parents in communication and literacy development.
These books are recommended for the development of oral language and speech and/or sound awareness.

The winners of the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards are:

Birth to 3 years (the Let’s Read category): I'm a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian and Ann James - 2014 winner

Three to 5 years: A Swim in the Sea by Sue Whiting and Meredith Thomas - 2014 winner

Young children 2 - 5 years: 
  • Seadog Claire Saxby Illustrated by Tom Jellett - 2013 winner
  • Come Down, Cat by Sonya Hartnett - 2012 winner
  • Can we lick the spoon now? by Carol Goess - 2011 winner
  • Our Daft Dog Danny by Pamela Allen - 2010 winner
  • The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarksy - 2009 winner
  • Is Your Grandmother a Goanna? by Pamela Allen - 2008 winner
  • Clancy the Courageous Cow by Lachie Hume - 2007 winner
  • Annies Chair by Deborah Niland - 2006 winner
  • Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox - 2005 winner
Lower primary:
  • The Little Refugee by Anh & Suzanne Do, illustrated by Bruce Whatley - 2012 winner
  • Hairy Nose Itchy Butt by Elizabeth Frankel - 2011 winner
  • Isabella's Garden by Glenda Millard and Rebecca Cool - 2010 winner
  • The Gobling Tree by Mark Carthew - 2009 winner
  • Going Bush by Nadia Wheatley and Ken Searle - 2008 winner
  • Uno's Garden by Graeme Base - 2007 winner
  • The Postman's Dog by Lisa Shanahan - 2006 winner
  • Jungle Drums by Graeme Base - 2005 winner
Indigenous children:
  • The Snake and the Boy by Azmen Sebastian - 2012 winner
  • Our World: Bardi Jaawi Life at Ardiyooloon by One Arm Point Remote Community School - 2011 winner
Best Language Development Book:
  • Milli, Jack and the Dancing Cat by Stephen Michael King - winner 2004
  • A Bee in Ben's Bonnet by Ferg McKinnon and Kim Gamble - winner 2003
Best Speech and/or Sound Awareness Book:
  • Do-wrong Ron by Steven Herrick - winner 2004
  • Muddled-Up Farm by Mike Dumbleton - winner 2003
Judging criteria PDF

Linked up at Read With Me #17 and Book Nook #8


Competition to win 3 Australian picture books

Australian picture books

This is the first ever giveaway draw at Australian Picture Books and we hope you can join in. I have 3 picture books written by Australian authors to giveaway - one of them is reviewed here.

I wanted to make it simple to enter so:
All you have to do is go to our facebook page and "like" us and write a comment on one of the posts there. Any post will do.
Thank you for joining in and good luck.

The prize will be mailed within Australia* only.
The random draw will be on Monday April 13th, 2015.
The winner will be messaged on facebook first and then announced on facebook.
The winner will be given 48 hours to respond.
I will mail the 3 books to the winner at no cost to them.

* Don't worry if you are not on facebook as we will be having other competitions soon, and they will also be open world wide.

This giveaway is linked up at: Read With Me and Book Nook and Booknificent Thursdays


Cows Say Moo by Graeme Base

Review of Cows Say Moo by Graeme Base

AUTHOR: Graeme Base
ARTIST: Graeme Base

STORY: Cows Say Moo is about some animals and the sounds they make including mice, sheep and tigers, to name a few of the seven animals. It is by bestselling author of Animalia and Uno's Garden Graeme Base and is part of a series of four titles for the very young, about animals called Little Bug Books.
The words of this picture book, Cows Say Moo, are simple and after a few readings there is a little bug hidden very well on each page to be discovered. It is great fun, even for older children and adults, to try and discover where the colour changing bug is hidden.

ILLUSTRATIONS: Each page starts with a realistic image of the animals and this is then folded out to reveal an enlarged scene with more of the same animals in their natural environment.  The pictures are beautiful and detailed but nowhere near as complex as Base’s usual elaborate illustrations as the book is really aimed at interesting toddlers in reading and books.

Cats say...   Meow.
Ducks say...   Quack.

RECOMMENDED: For babies to 4 for year olds

WHY I LOVE THE BOOK: It teaches early love of interacting with books as children really want to engage with the book and fold out the pages all by themselves. It's subject matter is perfect for young children who always seem to love animals.  The early learning concepts are perfect for under 2's - the simple 3 words on each page where children very quickly start to anticipate the sound, then read along with and then recite.
The illustrations of Graeme Base really make this book come alive.

PUBLISHER: Penguin (Viking) 2014

For older readers discuss where each animal lives e.g jungle, farm, field, or barn.
Any simple animal activities such as collage.
Talk about other animals and the noises that they make.
Sing animal songs such as I went to visit a Zoo one day.



Oh My! Said the Fly: guest post

book reviews of picture books

AUTHOR: Toula Papadam


STORY: The story is about a busy bee who just wants to get on with his work, collecting nectar from flowers. However, he is constantly bothered by predators. Luckily, the fly and various others try to help the bee by warning when there is danger about. The blurb reads as follows:

                              Oh my! Why is the fly so anxious?

          This very smart fly, together with various other creatures,

         try to warn the bee every time there is a predator nearby.

         The bee needs to look for nectar in the flowering bushes.
                          But there is danger lurking everywhere.
                                      What will the bee do?
          Find out in this charming and beautifully illustrated story
                          set in the Australian countryside.
ILLUSTRATIONS: The book is fully illustrated by Merran O’Neill.The artist used brightly coloured inks to create the visually exciting artwork which depict scenes from the Australian bush.
One sunny day, a busy bee was searching for nectar in a flower patch.
           He didn’t notice a big lizard sneak up behind him.
           “ Oh my!” said the fly.
           “ Go now!” said the cow.
           “Be quick!” said the chick.
           “Why me?”  said the bee.
           “ I don’t know,” said the crow.
           “ I know why,” said the fly, “because you’re good to eat!”
RECOMMENDED AGE: This book was written for 3 to 5 year olds. The elements of rhyme and repetition featured in the text make this picture book a delight for very young readers.
PUBLISHER: ToJo Books. This book was fully produced and printed in Sydney, Australia.
PURCHASE: This picture book can be purchased by contacting the author by email at  or on facebook.  Also available on Ebay.
By the author

Toula Papadam. Thank you Toula for sharing your first published book with us.
Linked up at Read With Me and Book Nook

and Booknificent Thursday #89


Our Island by the children of Gununa

Our Island book review

AUTHORS: The children of Gununa on the Mornington Island in collaboration with Alison Lester and Elizabeth Honey.

ARTISTS: The children of Gununa.*

STORY:  This book celebrates Mornington Island using the words and pictures of the children who live in this unique environment. It is based around the poem of one of the children, named Jasmine Jingles. 

Gununa is the largest town, on the island, with a population of around 1200.  Mornington Island is the largest of the Wellesley islands, a group of 23 islands in the gulf of Carpentaria, part of the Gulf Country region in the Australian state of Queensland.  The island is fringed by mangrove forests and contains 10 pristine estuaries. It is the traditional country of the Lardil, Kaiadilt and Gangalidda peoples who have successfully managed the land and sea resources for millions of years. Art, song and dance are all part of the islands cultural identity.

Our Island book review
ILLUSTRATIONS: The children illustrated the book with crayon resist and food dye creations which depict the landscape and animals of the island beautifully. Ghost crabs, fruit bats, pelicans, sharks, turtles and dugongs are just some of the animals captured in the art work. Also they beautifully and simply show the land with it's low scrub, ti-trees and swamp flats, the windswept beaches lined with sea-oak trees, and the rocky cliffs.

Our Island book review

At midday when the sun beats down, wallabies lie in the shade.
Brolgas bow and sway on the shimmering salt pans.

RECOMMENDED: for 4 year old children and older.

WHY I LOVE THIS BOOK: It is a soft and gentle celebration of nature and a unique and remote part of Australia that children relate to because of the beautiful drawings and words created by young children.

PUBLISHER: Penguin 2014

See how the book was created in this video told by Alson Lester and Elizabeth Honey.

Learn to do crayon resist art
Discuss the unique animals of Australia
Discuss animals that live in the sea
Learn about the Morning Glory - a rare and extraordinary cloud formation mentioned in the book.
Learn more about the artists of Mornington Island

All royalties from Our Island and one dollar from the sale of each copy will be donated to  Mornington Island State School to fund art projects in the community.

The children who contributed to the book include: Roy Amini, Lydia Claxton-Amini, Carmelita Binjari, Brett Evans, Lenford Gabori, Letisha Gabori, Luckeisha Gabori, Saiyuri Govender, Serena Govender, Kenneth Jacob, Jasmine Jingles, Elijah Joe, Kathleen Juhel, Daniel Kohler, Jaylo Linden, Reed Linden, Saige Reid, Graham Roughsey, Cheraine Sewter, Miranda Thomas, Miguel Thompson, Sheyenne Thompson, Tianna Thompson, Landon Wall and Amber Wilson.

Linked up at Book Nook #5 
Read With Me #12
Booknificent Thursday # 87