Tag Archives: Australia

Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney


Australia Illustrated by Tania McCartney, hardback non-fiction, 96 pages, published by EK Books in 2016.

Discover Australia in this beautifully illustrated book. It contains bite-size pieces about Australian culture, its quirks, landmarks, cities, flora and fauna. It is simple enough to be enjoyed by young children, whilst also being interesting enough to engage older kids and adults.

I found this to be a somewhat quirky look at Australia and I loved it! The illustrations are simply gorgeous; colourful, detailed and unique. I enjoyed reading all of the place names and other information contained in the outlines of each state or territory; these were very cleverly compiled. Reading Australia Illustrated made me feel great to be Australian! It made me want to travel and explore my beautiful homeland, and seek out some of the more unusual aspects of our nation.

I read this book cover to cover in one sitting, though I still took my time to enjoy it. It wouldn’t necessarily need to be read in order; it is browsable, and could make a good coffee table or waiting room book. I also think it would be a good book to spark the interest of reluctant readers, hopefully leaving them wanting to know more about Australia.

Australia Illustrated is suitable for children and adults alike. It is a great read and I highly recommend it.




Aussie Christmas Books for Children


With Christmas only six weeks away, it was time to pull out some of our Christmas books. We have a pretty good selection of Christmas themed books and I wanted to share some of the Australian ones here.

IMG_3000Our absolute favourite Christmas book, What Does Santa do When it’s not Christmas? is by Australian author and illustrator Heath McKenzie. It is a perfect picture book for sharing aloud and is sure to make you laugh!

IMG_5824Other humourous rhyming books for an Aussie Christmas include There Was an Old Bloke who Swallowed a Present and There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Star, both by P. Crumble and Louis Shea. With hilarious illustrations and a familiar cadence, these are great for young children.

IMG_5827For some Christmas carols with an Aussie twist Colin Buchanan has it covered with Santa Koala (to the tune of Waltzing Matilda), Aussie Jingle Bells and The Twelve Days of Aussie Christmas. The latter also has a list of things to spot in the pictures throughout the book. Fair Dinkum Aussie Christmas is a collection of songs by Bucko & Champs which can be sung to the tunes of some traditional carols. Possibly the most popular Australian Christmas song is Six White Boomers by Rolf Harris and Bruce Whatley; it is certainly our favourite! We also like The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark. If you’re more of a dog lover, you may prefer The Twelve Dogs of Christmas!

IMG_5829IMG_5833It wouldn’t be Christmas without reading An Aussie Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve! I love the idea of Santa arriving in an old ute.

Fans of Diary of a Wombat won’t be able to pass Christmas Wombat by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. That wombat sure does like carrots!

IMG_5830We have a picture book called Santa is Coming to Sydney. Santa takes the whole night to make his special deliveries to Sydney children before flying home… it’s probably nice for kids in Sydney to read about Santa coming to their city, but my kids weren’t really impressed, as it made it seem like Santa would only be visiting Sydney. I do like that Santa uses Santa-Nav to get around though.

IMG_5836If you’re looking for something to keep the kids entertained, you might like to try Where’s Santa? In Australia by Louis Shea. There are literally hundreds of things to spot in this Where’s Wally?-esque book. The humourous illustrations will keep the kids busy for hours!

We also enjoyed The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas by Michael Salmon (my favourite version), Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen, and Christmas in Australia by John Williamson and Mitch Vane. We borrowed these ones from the library.

What Aussie Christmas books do you like to read with your kids?



The Barrumbi Kids by Leonie Norrington


IMG_2443The Barrumbi Kids by Leonie Norrington, paperback novel, 196 pages, first published by Omnibus Books in 2002, this edition published by Omnibus Books in 2014.

Dale and Tomias are best friends living in a remote village in the Northern Territory of Australia. Long Hole and surrounds is Tomias’ ancestral land, and Dale’s ancestors were the first white family to settle in the area. They are part of the land, as the land is part of them, though they are still learning to use and respect it, and all the creatures within it. The boys attend the only school in town, along with their siblings and cousins. The boys spend their last year of schooling in Long Hole learning about themselves, their cultures,  overcoming the school bully and getting into plenty of scrapes along the way.

The Barrumbi Kids is a story of friendship and cultural interaction between aborigines and white people. It is also an insightful view of remote communities, and the people that live there. The realities of bush fires and crocodiles, snakes and floods, rural schooling and harsh weather conditions is a constant theme through the story, which also explores the theme of growing up in, what is, for many, a very different environment to their own.

The speech of the characters and the construction of their sentences has been written to imitate the actual language of the area. I found the small glossary of Mayali language and commonly used words at the back of the book useful, though most of it was explained within the story itself. This use of language definitely gave the story a more authentic and unique feel.

An interesting and different read, The Barrumbi Kids is well written, and suitable for middle to upper primary school children and older. The story was funny at times, especially when the kids explored the chook shed, though also slightly scary when Lizzie was being chased by a crocodile, a highlight of the daily dangers faced by the kids in remote Australia. I liked the relationships between the characters, especially that between Tomias and Dale, who are so different, yet so similar. The elders were portrayed well, and I quite liked old Caroleena. I could picture Mrs Armstrong’s sour face so clearly, and her fit of terror over the snake. That had me laughing too.

I’m happy for my second grader to read this book. I expect plenty of questions as she reads it, since the lives of the children in the story are quite different to her experiences. It is good to read something outside our own little sense of the world, I think reading The Barrumbi Kids will encourage her to want to know more about the outback of Australia and about the first settlers to this beautiful land.


* The Barrumbi Kids was an honours books for the 2003 Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year in the Younger Readers category.

Misery Guts by Morris Gleitzman


Last Import - 1Misery Guts by Morris Gleitzman, paperback novel, 121 pages, first published by Piper in 1991, this edition published by Pan Macmillan Australia in 1996.

Keith and his parents live above their fish and chip shop in London, in a drab building, in a drab street, in a drab city. Keith thinks his parents are a pair of misery guts, depressed and unhappy with life, and all he wants to do is cheer them up. He decides the best thing to do would be to move to Australia, where he believes they will find paradise and happiness. His parents do not want to move to the other side of the world, and they resist Keith’s plan for as long as possible, but finally, after a devastating fire, they agree, and pack up for the long flight to their new home on  the far north coast of Queensland.

A hilarious story of a boy trying his best to make his parents happy, this book made me laugh, both as a child and as an adult. Only a boy could think a smelly, dead rainbow fish would be the perfect cure for depression! But to go all the way to Australia based on nothing more than a fish and a picture takes plenty of courage. Keith works hard to pull it off, including hiding their proximity to the dangerous jellyfish, coconuts and crocodiles that inhabit their new home town. Keith even makes a new friend and ropes her into his plans for his parents’ happiness. Suitable for primary school students, Misery Guts is a heartwarming tale of a boy’s love for his parents, and the lengths he will go to make them happy. Well worth the read.