Tag Archives: Australian Wildlife

Leaving the Lyrebird Forest – Gary Crew. Illustrated by Julian Laffan.




Imprint: Lothian Children’s Books

September 2018



Gary Crew has created a narrative which is not only redolent of the quintessential Australian bush life – which is now mostly disappeared from our landscape – but also encourages the reader to think about the future for both humans and wildlife.

Are you lonely here?’ her mother asked. 
‘Never,’ Alice said. ‘Not while I am friends with the lyrebird.’

Alice has lived her entire life with her artistic parents in a small but quirky house on the outskirts of town. Apart from school she has little contact with other people but that doesn’t concern her. Alice’s best friend is the lyrebird that comes to visit her every other day. When she gets to know her hermit-like neighbour Mr Brown, recently widowed, she discovers that they both share this friendship with the cheeky bird. She also discovers that she and Mr Brown also share a deep and abiding love of the pristine bush and both are determined to preserve it – and the haunt and habitat of the beautiful wildlife therein.

Everything is changing. Alice is getting older and knows that eventually she will have to leave the bush and her home to complete her education but her concern over the splendours of her surrounds drive her decisions about her future. Together with Mr Brown she is able to set in motion a train of events that may possibly save this corner of paradise for the future.

This is a story with overtones of a time gone by which are enhanced by the delightful woodcut illustrations by Julian Laffan. The reader will have much to think about and certainly much to inspire their own aspirations.

Highly recommended for readers from about ten years upwards.




The Gum Family Finds a Home – Tania McCartney/Christina Booth



Publisher:   National Library of Australia
Edition:   1st Edition
ISBN:   9780642279255
Publication Date:   01 August 2018


Tania McCartney is not only one of my very favourite author/illustrators but also one of my favourite humans. This impossibly talented woman is clever, stylish, generous, beautiful inside and out and passionate about our unique country. It took a while for this review copy to get to me but oh how worth the wait it was! And as with Tania’s other books this one doesn’t go to our library shelves or some other worthy recipient but remains firmly in my own collection.


A sweet family of koalas live, as they would do, in a gum tree but their home is not without its problems. High winds, busy buzzy bees, no shelter from rain and more all make for a sometimes difficult living environment and like many other families this one thinks perhaps they might look for something more congenial and comfortable. With their koala caravan hitched up they follow their black noses around some of Australia’s most glorious geological wonders in search of a dream home. Along the way they see some of the most spectacular scenery in the world but when all is said and done, they realise that their own home is special – and with just a few modifications might suit them best after all.


What a perfectly wonderful way to introduce kidlets to our amazing landscapes (some of which Miss No-Longer-Small and I will be privileged to see next holidays! Excitement!). I am just a little sorry I didn’t receive it in time to use it with Year 2 this term – but what the hey there’s always next term to follow up on their classroom unit! Particularly as there is a wealth of information at the end of the book about the various locations this will prove not only entertaining but enlightening.


Tania, you and Christina, are a dream team – and this is just beautiful as well as informative. And oh my! The end papers are just truly divine!!!! (my kiddos at school find my obsession with endpapers highly amusing).


Watch the beautiful Tania share this gorgeous book here.

Our Birds: Ŋilimurruŋgu Wäyin Malanynha – Siena Stubbs  


Magabala Books

      Published:Apr 2018


RRP: $17.99


Young Yolgnu woman Siena Stubbs was just twelve years old when her interest in photography began. At first taking pictures with her iPad she later began more serious photography after the gift of a camera.


It wasn’t long at all before her beautiful work found its place in this delightful gift book filled with the glorious birdlife of Siena’s homeland in North-East Arnhem Land.


Each species captured on film has both its Yolgnu name and the English equivalent listed along with a lively description and explanation from Siena. As well each species is faced on its opposite page with stunning photos of the spectacular Arnhem Land landscapes.


Truly a work of love and art and a splendid gift to share with those who have a desire to explore our sensational Australian wildlife and country, this is a testament to the passion and talent of one young girl.

Read more about Siena here and watch a NITV interview with her here.


Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-up – Sally Morgan/Ambelin Kwaymullina



Magabala Books

Author:Sally Morgan

Illustrator:Ambelin Kwaymullina

Published:Jun 2018


RRP: $16.99

What a great way to kick off NAIDOC week! This is a terrific new book which mixes animals and vivid colours into a powerful message for little people about caring for our environment and our animals’ habitats.

Benny Bungarra is very busy as one by one his bush friends, Olive Python (hehe!), Colin Crow and Kathy Kangaroo, find themselves in real difficulties after encounters with dangerous rubbish left behind by humans. Once Benny has helped them all to free themselves from their respective dilemmas, he and his friends work out strategies that will help keep their bush home safe for all.  Recycling and reducing and using rubbish bins are all great ideas for humans but Benny takes things a step further when he suggests that he and his friends have their own big clean-up.

Before the invasion of white people and the now proliferation of people who disrespect our natural surroundings the First Australians managed country with wisdom, knowledge and respect for all that it gave them.

We have a responsibility to educate everyone to share this same respect and what better way than to start with our youngest readers who will need to manage the environment of the future.

Highly recommended for readers from Kindy upwards and a wonderful way to start a discussion on action that can be taken by anyone and everyone.

Bill Baillie: The Life and Adventures of a Pet Bilby – Ellis Rowan



Publisher:   National Library of Australia
Edition:   1st Edition
ISBN:   9780642279200
Publication Date:   01 March 2018

RRP: $24.99


Aptly in time for Easter (Bilbies not Bunnies!!) this is a beautiful abridged adaptation of Ellis Rowan’s fictionalised account of the little orphan bilby she raised and kept as a pet. The original was published in 1908 as simply Bill Baillie and included beautiful colour plates of some of Rowan’s wildflower paintings. Her extraordinary travels around Australia and to Papua New Guinea marked her as an unusual woman of her times and her prowess as a painter of wildlife, though she had no formal training was remarkable.


During an extended stay in tiny Goongarra on the Western Australia goldfields in 1906, wildflower painter Tabitha is given an orphaned bilby, blind and hairless, rescued from its dead mother’s pouch. With painstaking patience she raises the little creature and takes it on many travels with her. With so little known about these tiny animals at the time, Bill Baillie became a fascination for all who came into contact with him, earning him the soubriquet of His Highness Master Bill Baillie. His quirky antics and endearing personality make for engaging reading.

This lovely edition also features some of Rowan’s wildflower plates in colour, comprehensive information about bilbies and advice for wildlife rescue. A glossary is also included to assist young readers in an understanding of language of the period.

A delightful hardback of almost pocketsize, this is just a truly beautiful book which would make a lovely gift as well as a fine addition to a primary collection.

Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

Click here for more information about the Easter triplet bilbies and the work of the Save the Bilby Fund.



My Australia – Julie Murphy/Garry Fleming



National Library of Australia

April 2018


RRP $24.99

Those of us of a certain vintage will have vivid memories of learning off by heart Dorothea MacKellar’s famous poem My Country at school. For many I guess it may have been a trial but for me it was a joy, not least of all because it was my father’s favourite poem.

This beautiful new picture book is, to my mind, a new incarnation of that joy in our amazing country with its incredible diversity of landforms and wildlife. Lyrically realised in the most wonderful use of imagery and figurative language this is pure pleasure to read.

This visual feast of a journey moves from wetlands to forests, mountains to oceans and gardens to bush with a mesmerising flow. As well as the native fauna and flora there are glimpses of other features of our country’s wealth such as cattle, cities and cottage gardens.

To complete the poetic text lavishly illustrated with marvellous resonant images, the book concludes with several pages of factual information about the wealth of our natural habitats. With a Year 2 unit around People & Places coming up next term and my focus on using Australian picture books which illustrate our diverse nation, this will be a perfect addition.

I can highly recommend it to you for the same reason or just for its sheer beauty.  Highly suitable for use with primary children in particular from as young as prep to upper grades, this is a fine addition to your collection.

Australia Illustrated – Tania McCartney



Exisle Publishing

November 2016

ISBN 9781925335217

RRP $29.99


Five years ago while the teacher-librarian at Red Hill Primary, Canberra, I invited a local author about whom I had heard good things to come on an author visit to talk about her popular ‘Riley’ picture books.  Elegant Tania McCartney walked into my library and we were instantly friends. The children were entranced by her presentation (one little boy wrote and illustrated his own Riley book the next day) and all of us looked forward to seeing more from this talented woman.

In the last few years I have watched with great pleasure as Tania’s work has grown and blossomed into books in which her creativity has gone to greater and greater heights.

During the process of this latest (and greatest) of her books it has been such a pleasure for so many of us to feel as though we had something to contribute as Tania sought opinions and feedback on ideas she was developing. Little did I know that my own granddaughters were going to provide inspiration for some of her illustrations!

Australia Illustrated takes readers – both children and adults – on a virtual trip around Australia to examine the beauties, nature, culture, icons and quirks of each of our states.

With a glorious binding to complete it, the book begins with some pages of general information about Australia as a whole. The double page spread underlining our diversity is marvellous but each page is a revelation and a delight. Tania’s sense of fun comes through in each new vista. The double page ‘café style blackboard menu’ that details so many of our iconic favourite foods is just one example and one of my personal favourites.

After this overview of our country we move from state to state seeing children from all over with their own unique local flavours and settings. Each new state’s pages is heralded with a detailed and stylistically fun map and already I have had children (and grown ups) delightedly pointing out places they have been or know.

The virtual trip takes in all that is special, unique or iconic of the individual states illustrated in such a glorious fashion that this will prove a book to which to return over and over to continually discover new details.

The overriding emotion evoked by this armchair travelogue of our great country is one of joy in all that we, as Australians one and all, and our beautiful land have to offer. I have already sent off two copies to my Welsh friends, who recently visited and were entranced by the very small snippet they saw, for their grandchildren to savour. The appeal to adults is validated by the fact that Tim, Welsh grandad, had to have it prised out of his hands to be put away for the children!

In a social climate when we are eager to encourage our young readers to embrace all that is good about our nation – the people, the diversity, the beauty and the traditions – this is a book which resonates with a patriotic pride in its purest sense.

This is a definite ‘must have’ for your library collection indeed but also for your personal bookshelves and for you to share with your friends overseas. I know ours will be treasured and enjoyed for years to come.

Australians all, let us rejoice! That we have author/illustrators of Tania’s calibre is indicative of what we have to offer to a world too often troubled with negative and destructive images.

Congratulations Tania on a simply superb creation. Roll on the lavish praise and recognition for a truly remarkable book!


 Riley’s red planes flying over Red Hill library!


Postscript from Tim: As the Welsh grandad referred to, but not because I’m he, I would endorse the review wholeheartedly. As a visitor, it gives a bite-sized introduction to Australia that informs but doesn’t overwhelm. I loved it and look forward eagerly to being able to share with my grandies!



ABC Dreaming – Warren Brim



Magabala Books

  • Published:Nov 2015
  • ISBN:9781922142627
  • Format:Paperback


RRP: $17.95

I have purposely saved this one for the start of the school year believing it to the most beautiful ABC book I have seen in a long, long time and so perfect for introducing your preppies to both the alphabet, Australian flora and fauna and Indigenous culture.

In particular as Warren is descended from the Djabugay  people of Far North Queensland, this is even more relevant to our Queensland schools as the illustrations depict the diverse wildlife and plants found in the Far North rainforests.

Each vibrantly colourful page shows an illustration of the chosen creature or plant in traditional Aboriginal style and colours.  An interesting exercise might be to research the actual descriptions and images with the children to make comparisons between the stylised and photographic versions.  And of course while there will be some familiar names to the children, others which are unique to the Far North may require some investigation.

Warren is a celebrated artist whose work you will know from Creatures of the Rainforest.

As usual Magabala has published another truly quality book that will make a perfect addition to any bookshelf whether home or library.

Highly recommended for toddlers up.