Books of Australia – For Kids

January 26th marks the date in which Australians reflect upon our cultural history and celebrate the accomplishments since the first fleet landed on Sydney’s shores in 1788. Here are a select few picture books aimed at providing children with some background knowledge of our beautiful land, flora, fauna and multicultural diversity. There is plenty of scope for teaching and learning opportunities under the Australian curriculum, and respectful inclusions of Aboriginal traditions.  

9781921966248An Aussie Year; Twelve Months in the Life of Australian Kids, Tania McCartney (author), Tina Snerling (illus.), EK Books, 2013.  

What a joyous celebration of all things Australiana, all encompassed in one gorgeous book; An Aussie Year. From January through to December, with every season in between, from Melbourne to Sydney’s City to Surf and the Great Barrier Reef, we get a taste of Australian life for five young individual children of different cultural backgrounds. Ned, Zoe, Lily, Kirra and Matilda provide us with snippets of their typical ethnic traditions, seasonal activities, food, terminology and special events that occur throughout the year. From icy poles, cricket, swimming and Australia Day in January, to back-to-school, Valentine’s Day and Chinese New Year in February. April brings Easter, Anzac Day and the Antipodes Festival, and creepy-crawlies and Mother’s Day breakfast are common occurrences in May.
Tania McCartney’s Aussie culmination continues with plenty more fun and interesting experiences as told by the kids, beautifully capturing our wonderful multicultural nation. The pictures by Tina Snerling illustrate that diversity perfectly; they are colourful, creative, rich and varied in what they portray, and very sweet.
An Aussie Year is a wonderful learning resource for primary aged children, as well as an engaging and delightful book just to peruse and reflect upon for both young and old.  

9781921504402Jeremy, Chris Faille (author), Danny Snell (illus.), Working Title Press, 2013.  

One of the wonderful elements of Australia is our exotic and amazing wildlife. The king of the bush is no exception. In ‘Jeremy’, a heartwarming story is brought to reality with the events of a growing baby kookaburra over the course of several weeks. Starting out as an ugly, featherless chick, Jeremy is brought in by the family cat and cared for by its loving family. Descriptive language allows the reader to learn his behavioural traits and aesthetic characteristics. As the story develops, we also become familiar with his personality; as an endearing and cheeky little bird, who loves to watch television and spy the goldfish for lunch. Stumbles and crashes are all part of learning to fly. But once established, a final kiss goodbye sees Jeremy reunited with his kookaburra family as they fly away into the sunset together.
Based on a true story, ‘Jeremy’ is a beautifully written and engaging information story by author Chris Faille. Illustrator Danny Snell has provided equally soft and detailed acrylic paintings. Preschoolers will adore learning about the kookaburra’s development and fascinating facts, as seen in the endpapers, as well as showing them the need to care for defenceless creatures.  

9780763670757Big Red Kangaroo, Claire Saxby (author), Graham Byrne (illus.), Walker Books, 2013.  

Another native animal to Australia is the symbolic kangaroo, and in ‘Big Red Kangaroo’ by Claire Saxby (author of other Aussie themed books including Meet the Anzacs and Emu), the typical behaviours of these large marsupials is explored in both a storytale and informative format.
‘Red’ is surrounded by his mob, and at nightfall they bound off in search of grasses. Did you know that kangaroos sometimes regurgitate their food to help with digestion? The mob are met by other creatures looking for water in the middle of the dry season. But they cannot settle when other male kangaroos are nearby. Red is the male leader, but is soon challenged by another to take over his mob. A brief fight for dominance sees Red retain his role as king, and he takes his followers to the safe shelter amongst the trees.
A compelling account, written with sophisticated, descriptive language, and enlightening charcoal and digital media illustrations to match. Equipped with an index and plenty of information, ‘Big Red Kangaroo’ is the perfect learning tool for primary school aged children.  

9781922081322Calpepper’s Place, Trudie Trewin (author), Donna Gynell (illus.), Windy Hollow Books, 2014.  

In ‘Calpepper’s Place’ we are taken on a journey with a range of Australian animals around our beautiful continent. It is an adorable story of acceptance, and trying new adventures.
Calpepper is a camel who decides one day that trudging through the hot desert just isn’t exciting enough. He jumps aboard a bus named ‘Adventure Tours to the Unknown’, and in a trialing series of experiences, Calpepper discovers these places are not the places for him after all. Whooshing down chilly ski slopes, being trampled by an avalanche of shoes in the concrete jungle, and tumbling off a wave onto the beach shore are not camely sorts of places. Finally, a little ray of sunshine gives him the comfort he needed and he returns back to plod along with the camel train once again.
A rhythmic story with fun, varied text and expressive language, gorgeously fluid and whimsical watercolour illustrations, make ‘Calpepper’s Place’ a truly engaging way to explore our scenic country and appreciate your own special place to call home.  

9781922179760A is for Australia, Frané Lessac (author / illus.), Walker Books, 2015. (See also Midnight and Ned Kelly and the Green Sash). 

Described as a ”factastic tour of Australia” and a ”celebration of Australian people, places and culture.” Exactly that, Frané Lessac’s ‘A is for Australia’ is a colourful, informative and truly engaging book visiting various locations around our amazing country. With each letter of the alphabet, we are introduced to many of Australia’s fascinating and iconic landmarks, covering every state and territory. From our beautiful beaches, to the dry outback, busy major cities and temperate rainforests, this book provides ample opportunity to get to know more about geographical places and the flora, fauna, people and structures that can be found there. Riveting facts accompany each location, including indigenous and cultural history. For example, the Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, took 16 years to build and opened in 1973.
There is plenty to experience with this bright, aesthetically pleasing and engrossing information book about our special continent. It is perfect for families to share (and create) their own memories and experiences, and for primary school children to utilise for their Australian studies.  

So, after travelling through the alphabet, the seasons and across Australia, you’ll be able to say, ‘I’ve been everywhere, man. Here, there, everywhere, man!’

Happy Australia Day, Australia!

REVIEW OF CAMP CROC

You know that Camp Croc is going to be full of action from the title and the graphic picture of a giant hungry looking crocodile on the front cover.

I was also drawn to the main character, Daks. Who could not love a kid with a name like that? And of course, Mr Longbottom is the ideal name for a teacher – especially from his student’s point of view.

Daks and his mates are off to a once-in-a lifetime orienteering camp but they’re going to find more than they bargained for.

When the kids find a sign, “Danger! Your safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point. Students must stay within camp boundaries at all times”, you know something big is going to happen.

What starts out as a bit of a lark turns dangerous when the kids come across wildlife smugglers in the bush and it seems that their only means of escape is across crocodile infested waters.

And when the plan they come up with backfires they seemed destined to become crocodile dinner.

This is a truly Australian story and I couldn’t help giggling at Trewin’s lively turn of phrase.

“I was swimming one day – in the stinger net – thinking I was as safe as broccoli at a birthday party, when I bumped into a log. Except the log was a five-metre-long crocodile.

Trudie Trewin’s humorous text and great cliff hanger chapter endings keep the reader turning the pages, and despite the heart pounding action, she manages to keep the laughs coming.

The text is broken up with Dak’s hilarious and perceptive Dak’s facts. A school camp is something readers will relate to and the destination, Cape Tribulation provides an ideal backdrop for adventure.

Author, Trudie Trewin seamlessly incorporates the setting detail into the story so that readers can picture themselves there but aren’t distracted from the action.

There’s also the odd gross description to appall and delight readers.

Camp Croc is a hilarious adventure story that will captivate readers. The text is simple, the dialogue realistic and the action non-stop – making it a great choice for reluctant readers.

Camp Croc is published by Walker Books in their Lightning Strikes series. Teacher’s notes are available from the Walker Books website

 

NEWSPAPER ARTICLE INSPIRES “CAMP CROC”

Today, we welcome Queensland author, Trudie Trewin to Kids’ Book Capers. She’s here to talk about her writing adventures and her hilarious new children’s book for readers aged 9-13, Camp Croc.

Writing is something that Trudie says she always thought she’d have a go at “one day”.

But I had imagined I would write for adults. A random comment about children’s stories by a co-worker when I left for maternity leave got me thinking. Eventually, the thinking turned to doing, and I found that writing for kids was something I loved.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Having an excuse to daydream! The freedom of being able to work anywhere, anytime.

What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

Convincing my family that lazing by the pool is how I mull over and fix up a plot I’m having trouble with!

What were you in a past life (if anything) before you became a writer?

In reality, I worked in finance, but if I could have my choice of any career…I’ve always thought being an astronaut would be pretty cool.

What is your greatest writing achievement?

Okay, this is pretty hard to admit, but I’m naturally lazy – so every time I move from just thinking about a story and jotting down notes, to the moment I have to actually sit down and write it all out is quite an achievement for me!

Do you have any tips for new writers?

Read lots, write lots, talk to other writers lots, accept constructive criticism, and follow your heart.

Anything else of interest you might like to tell our blog readers?

I love to sing, but I am truly terrible at it. When my boys were babies I used to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ to them at bedtime, and without fail they would always put their hand over my mouth, and as soon as they could talk, they would say ‘stop’ as well. Now I sing just to embarrass them!

ABOUT CAMP CROC

It’s about four mates who sneak away from a school camp, only to find themselves getting into hairy situations, or should I say, scaly situations, with both local wildlife and some wildlife smugglers.

What inspired you to write this book?

I read a newspaper article about a woman who went for a swim in one of our local beaches, and really did bump into a crocodile – and lived to tell the tale. I couldn’t stop thinking about what must have gone through her head when she realised that she was face to face with a croc – so I wrote a scene where a boy swims into a crocodile, and Daks was the character that bolted out of the water. I knew then that any character that had been through that ordeal deserved a whole story, not just a scene!

Can you tell me about the main character and what you like/dislike about him/her?

Daks has a somewhat dry sense of humour, enjoys the company of his mates, and has an adventurous streak – but like all kids his age, his taste for adventure grows considerably in the presence of his mates. He can be hesitant to make new friends, but once he has he’s very loyal.

Are there any teacher’s notes, associated activities with the book?

Yes, on the Lightning Strikes website.

Is there something that sets this book apart from others?

Probably the humorous observations Daks and his friends make. Even in the face of danger they manage to find something funny to comment on.

What did you enjoy most about writing Camp Croc?

The action in it. There were times when my heart hammered faster than the keyboard as the boys lurched from one dangerous situation to the next!

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Trying to work out how the boys were going to get free when they were tied up to the trees. I even tied my boys up to trees to see if what I described was possible! Oh that reminds me…. better go and untie them now…

Camp Croc lovers will be pleased to know that Trudie is currently working on another story involving Daks and his mates.

On Friday we’re reviewing the hilarious Camp Croc here at Kids’ Book Capers.

Pics for this post were supplied from Trudie’s blog.



PICTURE BOOK FEST DAY 2 – MEET TRUDIE TREWIN

Trudie Trewin is the author of I Lost My Kisses and Wibbly Wobbly Street.

  • She grew up on a farm in South Australia, but says,
  • my outdoor play time was hampered by a condition which left me unable to cope with cold weather – known as ‘Acute Sookie-la-la syndrome’. But don’t worry – having that syndrome had two great outcomes on my life. Number 1… spending half of Autumn and Spring, and the entire Winter inside meant I developed a love of reading. And number 2… it meant I eventually moved to beautiful warm Far North Queensland, where I still live with my husband, three sons and a wardrobe full of shorts and singlets!

Trudie’s acclaimed picture book, I Lost My Kisses is about an adorable cow called Matilda Rose who is worried she has lost her kisses

Matilda Rose loved to kiss. She kissed hello. She kissed goodbye. She kissed good morning and she kissed good night. But one day something went terribly, horribly wrong.

Matilda’s poppa is coming for a visit and the first thing he always wants is a big kiss from Matilda – but she has lot her kisses! Matilda’s mother says they’ll be there when she needs them, but Matilda is not so sure. She sets out to find them, the only trouble is… what do kisses look like?

Nick Bland’s soft illustrations complement the gentle text and it’s no wonder I Lost My Kisses won the 2008 National parenting Publication Award.

So, how did Trudie become an author?

When I left work to have our third son, making it 3 under 3 ½, I joked that I might write a book in my newfound spare time. I actually meant adult fiction, but a workmate assumed I meant children’s books. It planted a seed in my mind, so I enrolled in a course in children’s writing, fell in love with it, and voilà, as they say.

Yeah, embrace your peculiarities. Life’s pretty straight without a wibble or two!

Trudie Trewin’s latest picture book Wibbly Wobbly Street is about the only street in Squareton that’s not straight and smooth and wide. Its non-conformity, and the peculiarities of its residents lead Mayor Angle and his fellow councilors to take some radical action to try and bring it into line with the rest of Squareton.

It’s another book full of quirky gentle humour and a strong theme that it’s okay to be different.

On Friday we’re featuring Catriona Hoy, author of Daddies, Mummies Are Amazing and My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day

FRIDAY BOOK FEATURE – STREETS AND DUCKS

Welcome to our first Friday Book Feature. So many fantastic books! Unfortunately, too many to feature here, but these are my picks for this week.

WIBBLY WOBBLY STREET

Written by Trudie Trewin & illustrated by Cheryl Orisini

I live on a rough winding road that goes for more than 10 kilometres and is peppered with bark, lizards and the occasional hopping kangaroo. So I was totally intrigued with the concept of Trudie Trewin‘s new picture book Wibbly Wobbly Street, and the idea that a road could be straightened or ‘made perfect’.

Beautifully illustrated by Cheryl Orisini, Wibbly Wobbly Street tells the story of the only street in Squareton that’s not straight and smooth and wide. It’s a street that doesn’t conform. Mayor Angle and his fellow councillors take some radical action to try and bring it into line with the rest of Squareton.

Trudie Trewin says the story was inspired by a friend of hers who had trouble remembering the name of a street she was talking about.

She ended up just calling it ‘Wibbly Wobbly Street’ because of its hilly and twisty nature. It struck me as a fun name for a story, but it took me about four years, and many failed drafts, to come up with a plot to suit.

Wibbly Wobbly Street is a picture book for ages 3-6 and the ridiculousness of trying to physically straighten a street will appeal to their sense of humour.

Particularly as the street is obviously much more exciting than the rest of Squareton.

Trudie  has also used fun words, like ‘wibble-extomy’ and ‘wobble-otomy’, which add to the appeal. She says she loved being able to use wibbly wobbly language in the book. “I loved using words like rectangle-fied, wobble-otomy, wibble-ectomy, hotch-potch, askew, squiggled, joggled.”

So, what’s unique about this book?

Celebrating individuality isn’t new, but I can’t think of another book where this theme has been approached from the point of view of a stubbornly twisted street.

Wibbly Wobbly Street is published by Scholastic Australia ISBN 9781741695618

DUCK FOR A DAY

Written by Meg McKinlay and illustrated by Leila Rudge

I’ll admit to complete bias with this book by Meg McKinlay. Firstly, I love ducks and secondly, I love the concept of class pets and think they add something special to any school room.

In Duck for a Day, Mrs Melvino brings a duck, Max into the classroom and Abby desperately wants to take him home for the night.

Abby lives in a spotless house where pets are not allowed because they might make a mess. A classroom pet visit is a temporary thing and Abby manages to persuade her Mum to let her bring the duck home. But this is only the first of Abby’s hurdles.

Next she must overcome the strict demands of Mrs Melvino who won’t let Max go home to an environment that is less than ‘duck’ perfect.

Streets also play an important role in this story because when Abby finally gets to take Max home, the duck disappears and waddles up the street to the park. Duck for a Day is a beautifully illustrated book for 7-9 year olds full of gentle humour and situations that kids will relate to.

Duck For a Day is published by Walker Books Australia – ISBN 9781921529283

FRIDAY BOOK FEATURE STARTS TOMORROW!

Tomorrow, we start our FRIDAY BOOK FEATURE at Kids’ Book Capers –  and this week, it’s all about streets and ducks.

I can’t wait to talk about some new releases in the wonderful world of kids’ books.

We’re going to be blogging every Friday and greeting new arrivals to the book shelves.

Discover Trudie Trewin’s quirky new picture book Wibbly Wobbly Street which has been beautifully illustrated by Cheryl Orsini.

We’ll also be taking a waddle down the road with Duck for a Day written by Meg McKinlay with gorgeous illustrations by Leila Ridge.

Look forward to seeing you then.

Dee

FRIDAY BOOK FEATURE STARTS THIS FRIDAY WITH STREETS AND DUCKS

Since we started Kids’ Book Capers, there have been so many interesting things happening on the Kids’ book scene and so many fascinating people to chat to. So we haven’t had time to talk about all the great new releases.

That’s why Kids’ Book Capers will also be blogging on Fridays  with our new Friday Book Feature where we’ll be greeting new arrivals to the book shelves.

To kick things off this Friday we’re going to be talking about Trudie Trewin’s quirky new picture book Wibbly Wobbly Street which has been beautifully illustrated by Cheryl Orsini.

We’ll also be looking at the heartwarming, Duck for a Day written by Meg McKinlay with gorgeous illustrations by Leila Ridge.

Look forward to seeing you then.

Dee