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Posts from the ‘Picture Books’ Category

Flapper, VC

Mark Wilson (Lothian)

Based on the true story of an Australian carrier pigeon during World War II, Flapper VC (a terrific title) is the tale of an Australian born and raised carrier pigeon. It is the story of the training of the pigeon in Australia, the training of this pigeon for military duties and then what happens when the bird is sent to war. His first mission was a failure, the message strapped to his foot was lost in flight, but then came the mission to save his patrol who were surrounded by enemy fighters. Flapper was their last hope for rescue. Facing bullets, explosions, and pounding rain deep in the jungle Flapper flew to his loft.

Flapper (carrier pigeon D D43 Q879) was awarded the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross (the Dickin Medal) for his actions that day, and his medal is proudly displayed at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

Mark Wilson creates these moving books of wartime animals and their true stories so wonderfully well. They reach out to readers of so many ages with the intricate art and well crafted narrative. A perfect Anzac Day read. Uncover more about Mark at and especially for the coming Anzac Day, his military themed picture books.

Welcome To Country

Joy Murphy & Lisa Kennedy (BlackDogBooks)

Wominjeka Wurundjeri balluk yearmenn koondee bik. Welcome to Country.

This book is a rich and beautiful celebration of the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People, the Manna Gum People – Melbourne’s traditional owners. Through these pages aspects of the Creation stories flow and an imploring for those of us who journey to this country to only take from the land what can be given back. Respect for elders, respect for the land, and the bond with the land beneath the feet are all woven into Welcome to Country.

“Aboriginal communities across Australia have boundaries that are defined by mountain ranges and waterways. Traditionally, to cross these boundaries or enter community country you needed permission from the neighbouring community. When this permission was granted the ceremony now called Welcome to Country took place. Each community had its own way of welcoming to country, and they still do today.”

Exquisitely detailed illustrations, painted with acrylics, of peoples, the skies, and country, unite with a simple and emotional text on each double page. This is beautiful. This is expansive. This is wonderfully crafted in text and illustration and this book should be in every Australian home and library.

Rock Pool Secrets

Rock Pool Secrets
Narelle Oliver
Walker Books

“Down on the rocky shore,
waves crash and smash.
Then the tide goes out and the sea is calm.
It’s a good time to explore the rock pools.”

This is a lusciously created book full of the joys of some of the creatures that dwell in the rock pools – just lift the flaps and discover.

The book follows the flow of the ever moving sea as the tide goes out and then comes in allowing the reader to journey through the changing rock pools. Discover Hermit Crabs making their homes in empty shells, Turban sea snails by the rock pool’s edge, Goby fish and sponges and more. Carefully and very closely look and read each spread to discover the treasures deposited onto each page. The illustrations are thoughtfully created and the words, in both the narrative and those at the conclusion of the text, are full of natural history.

Constructed from solid pages with cutout flaps that often reveal hidden secrets, this book will handle the continual examination that it deserves.

As a child, I loved nothing better than tromping along the rock pool edges and feeling the warm water and then the sand squidgy beneath my toes and watch the creatures that were nestling there. This beautiful book will surely inspire another generation of rock pool hunters to go and reveal the secrets hidden there.

Over the years Narelle has crafted many books filled with the wonder and the joy of the natural environment including The Best Beak in Bonaroo Bay, Baby Bilby, Where Do You Sleep and The Hunt. We have been so privileged to have Narelle craft her wonderful books to share with the children of the world.

And Classroom notes are also available –

Vale Narelle Oliver.

Mulga’s Magical Musical Creatures

Mulga’s Magical Musical Creatures
Mulga (Joel Moore)

So just where does the music that musicians create come from?
What is the inspiration behind the words for those songs or for the music they score?
According to Mulga – it is in the dreams!

In this bold and bright rhyming picture book Mulga tells of the creatures that appear in musician’s dreams that then inspire the newly created songs: fishes in poncho plucking guitars, trumpet playing elephants swaying the moonlight, drum playing gorillas and a host of other exotic fauna. The animals are quirky (the banjo playing owls wear blue runners!) as are the natural environments the animals inhabit (the cymbal banging bison are surrounded by snow-covered mountains with a full creatures moon on the horizon). The illustrations are intricate with lots of line work and textured patterns popping through. Each page is quite a visual feast.

This is a colourful world worthy of exploring, crafted by the creator who runs the Mulga clothing label and who paints murals that can be seen all over the country. There is also a colouring book available too.

Blue, The Builder’s Dog Jen Storer & Andrew Joyner (Penguin)

Look around just about any building site in Australia and there will be Blue – a a builder’s dog travelling in the ute, looking after the tools and the workers, greetings subbies and even putting his paw prints in the newly laid slab of concrete.  Blue is mates with the whole team.

The problem for Blue is that at the end of the day, when all the builders go home Blue doesn’t get to sleep in a the builders’s house, or in any house like the rest of the tradies. Blue is confined to the shed. Blue longs for his own home so he quits work, and sets about building his own grand home, and then things don’t quite go according to plan.

This amusing story, of companionship, friendship and determination, has a delightful ending that will appeal to readers of all ages. It will be read over and over again and the illustrations of the builders and Blue are perfectly detailed and humorous to dovetail with the fun text. Any reader will love discovering and knowing Blue.


Steve Goes to Carnival Joshua Button & Robyn Wells (Magabala)

This book popped up earlier this year and I forgot to post a few words. I thoroughly enjoyed Steve. The story and illustrations are wonderfully engaging and popping with the inspired sights and sounds of Rio. It is a story of friendship and amazement, of differences and acceptance, the power of music and with bold coloured illustrations inspired by 1970s Rio de Janeiro.

Steve is a jazz-listening gorilla (really) who lives at a zoo in Rio. His zookeeper Antonio listens along in the evenings as well. But one lonely after Antonio has left, Steve lifts the enclosure latch, exits the zoo and disguised with a hat discovered at the tram stop, he sets off in search of Antonio. He soon discovers the excitement of Carnivale in Rio – the music, the lights, fireworks and sequins, the food and most surprisingly Steve playing in a club in a jazz quartet.


The 12th Dog Charlotte Calder & Tom Jellett (Lothian)

This paperback picture book is timed just perfectly for the summer school holidays where cricket balls are being hit in backyards and on beaches all over the country. A celebration of holidays, of crickets, of dogs and the 12th man – or dog! Limited text and bright comical illustrations are on the pages of this summer holiday read.

It’s the summer holidays and a game of backyard cricket is being played by a group of friends and when Arlo joins in its always made more interesting because he is the fastest fielder. Restricted to the sidelines as 12th man  because he never gives up the ball Arlo forces his way into the team and proves that he is an invaluable member of any cricket team.


Colours of Australia Bronwyn Bancroft (LittleHare)

The colours of the night sky, of sunrise, the land, the sun, the coolness of day, the raindrops on freshwater streams, and more of the natural environment throughs Australia are all lovingly and evocatively portrayed as only Bronwyn can do.

This is a new visually stunning from one of Australia’s leading indigenous artists showing the colours of Australia. Each colour is also accompanied by a double page of exotic art and short sentences which combine to leave the reader seeing the word around them through a different lens.

This books is superb and needs to be shared and adored.


All I Want for Christmas is Rain Cori Brooke & Megan Forward (New Frontier)

When dams are dry and pastures are brown and when this is happening at  Christmas time there is only one person who can bring the rain – and that man of course is Santa, so when an outback aussie Christmas is threatened when the drought takes hold a young girl takes a trip to twon on the train to meet with the man himself..

Told in rhyming verse and with washed illustrations and colours most appropriate for the setting of the book, this is a delightful Aussie addition to the Christmas book list.


The Patchwork Bike Maxine Beneba Clarke, Van T Rudd (Lothian)

This book is not set in Australia but rather in a village where homes are built from mud walls, where there are sandhills and deserts, and where children jump from trees. And the best fun in that village is riding the handmade patchwork bike.

The bike shiketty shakes over sandhills and has woodcut wheels that go winketty wonk through the fields and it even has a number pate made from bark.

This amazing story with beautiful language, is told through a young girl’s eyes. It is vastly different to most Australian lives and shows a glimpse of life in another culture that needs to be shared.

A joy to read and investigate.