Being married to an Australian means we have been collecting children’s books from Down-Under ever since our first visit as parents. They are books that either my husband grew up with or have become classics in the last few years, and are some of the most beloved by cousins and friends’ children, and have been the best gifts from Auntie & Uncle, Cousins, Grandma & Grandad and friends alike.
As every Christmas, including this one, my kids get books in their stockings, I thought I would share some of the books we have for those of you who are still looking for bits and pieces to complete your own children’s Christmas stockings.
Some of the most beloved authors amongst the youngest generation appear to be Mem Fox, Alison Lester and Yvonne Morrison, so anything by them is guaranteed to be a huge hit with the littlies, but there are also other authors who have proven to be able to captivate my munchkins' hearts, especially as many Aussie authors seem to have a passion for animals, much like our children.
So here are some of our current favourites:
Are we There Yet? – Alison Lester
The actual story of a family who take on a 3-month journey around Australia on a camper-van to visit the most iconic corners of this breathtaking country. My personal favourite spot: The Twelve Apostles that changes from year to year due to sea erosion. The story ends with a ‘Are we there yet?’ from children that after all the exciting adventures are quite keen to return back home to their pets and grandparents.
Where is the Green Sheep? – Mem Fox
My son read this while he first was at nursery and pretty much has stayed with us as a firm favourite. Perfect for kids who are starting to learn their colours, this repetitive and fun book will also make it fun for them to memorise the pages as they read over and over, which they will probably end up doing.
Koala Lou – Mem Fox
This is the story of a koala who, as the only child, had all of his mummy’s love … until more koala siblings arrived and Koala Lou decides to participate in the Bush Olympics to recoup mum’s attention. Koala Lou did not win but he got mum to give him the much needed reassurance: ‘Koala Lou I do love you. I always have and I always will’.
The Magic Hat – Mem Fox
The magic hat moves around and spins and sits on different people’s head to turn them into different animals. Finally the wizard arrives and takes the hat away rescuing everyone back into their original human bodies. Fun and repetitive, with a surprise factor where the child can try and remember what comes next at the turn of the page and learn about rhyming words.
Possum Magic – Mem Fox
Hush and Grandma Poss live in the Australian bush. Grandma Poss has magic powers and does all sorts of fun things to other animals. With Hush though, she turns him invisible - to keep her safe from snakes. Hush wants to remember what she looked like and Grand Poss tours Australia with her to find the (human) foods that will make her visible again.
The Cocky who cried Dingo – Yvonne Morrison
The Australian equivalent of The Boy who cried Wolf, impersonated by a Cockatoo, fun and filled with rhymings.
My Aussie Dad – Yvonne Morrison
Many if us have embarrassing dads. Or so we think J This book is about the different stereotypes of Australian dads – something most Australian kids will be able to relate to.
Give me a Home among the Gum Trees – Bob Brown (aka Captain Rock) & Wally Johnson
Based on the lyrics of one of the most iconic Aussie songs that was initially submitted in a contest organised to find the new anthem of the country. It was also later picked up by John Williamson who made it a hugely popular country-ish song. It celebrates all things of life in the Australian bush.
Uno’s Garden – Graeme Base
This is a beautiful story, and one of my personal favourites, about how humans turned a lush and fertile forest filled with exotic animals into a grey sterile city, and abandoned it once all had flora and fauna had been destroyed because they didn’t enjoy living there anymore. Future generations managed to restore and build in perfect balance for humans and other living things could to enjoy together. All but one animal, which they could only hope to see one day again. Sadly enough, something our children might experience in the flesh one day.
Wombat Stew – Marcis K. Vaughan and Pamela Lofts
One clever dingo caught a wombat and in his excitement, he spent a long time dancing and singing around the cooking pot. In doing so, he attracted the attention of the poor wombat’s friends who came to the rescue and tricked the dingo into poisoning his own cooking.
Silly Galah! – Janeen Brian
Rhyming fun while kids learn all about the Australian animals, from the better known koalas, kangaroos, platypuses and crocodiles, to the more exotic ones like Kookaburras, Quokkas, Frill-necked Lizards and Bilbys … oh, yes! And Galahs – a pretty type of pink Cockatoo.
Mulga Bill’s Bicycle – A.B. Paterson
Having been written in 1896, this is now a much-loved Australian classic that tells the story of Mulga Bill who decides to try the new method of transportation at that time – the bicycle. Unfortunately for him he turns out to be not as good as he had first decided he would be and after a spectacular crash in a creek, he settles for his more reliable horse. Lots of rhyming if your child is at that stage where they are learning their rhyming words and expressions.
The Wonky Donkey – Craig Smith
Not really a book written by an Australian, but a Kiwi who also created music to be played along with the book, but in any case, much loved by Aussie kids too for its playful way with words and repetition. Get to discover who the spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey is as you turn the pages of this fun book.
Baby Wombat’s Week – Jackie French
A spin-off of the original The Diary of a Wombat. The story takes us through baby wombat’s week day by day, as he makes friends with a human baby while he and his mum look for the perfect home.
More recently I have also learnt about Pamela Allen who has some really lovely reviews, so I will be happy to report back after our next trip Down Under, together with any future additions to our ever growing collection.
Meanwhile, do any of the Aussie mums have any further suggestions to add?