A celebration of Australian picture books #3 — Kim Michelle Toft

Australia is a land of geographic diversity: of grassy plains, stony deserts, forested mountains, snow-capped peaks, golden beaches and sparking blue water.

It is home to world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef, one of the seven wonders of the world and a popular tourist destination.

Conservation of the Great Barrier Reef, along with other marine environments is important to the health of our planet.

Kim Michelle Toft is an Australian silk artist who makes beautiful picture books with an environmental message aimed at increasing an appreciation of our oceans and their precious creatures and raising awareness of the importance of protecting them.

Kim Michelle Toft's books

I own these five of Kim’s books; each of which has an engaging story supported by child-friendly information about the marine environment and its importance, and is beautifully illustrated with magnificent silk paintings, which are delightful in themselves:

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One Less Fish counts back from twelve to zero and contains the message “Without constant care we will lose some of the world’s most beautiful natural resources. Remember: fish that die one by one may soon become none by none.”

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Reef Superstar introduces many creatures of the reef and provides supporting information about the reef and each creature featured. (Does not appear to be available at the moment.)

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The World That We Want contains forty-five creatures to be found in illustrations of nine different habitats and explains the inter-connectedness of ecosystems and their importance. The beautiful last pages open out to four pages in width showing the world that we want, from the forest to the ocean.

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A Sea of Words and accompanying Wall Frieze provide an alphabet of beautiful sea creatures with accompanying information.

12 underwater days of Christmas

The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas is an innovation on the original carol using beautiful illustrations of marine creatures. As well as information about all the animals it includes a stunning six-page foldout poster, and information about the original carol.

In this video Kim invites you into her gallery and studio and explains her silk painting technique.

Kim is also available for visits to schools. When she visited “my” school she read from her books, engaged students in related activities and demonstrated silk painting by creating an original which the school was able to purchase. Her vast knowledge, experience, and passion for her work and the marine environment make these visits worthwhile.

Kim’s books can be enjoyed by adults and children for the beauty of their illustrations alone. However the combination of visual appeal, richness of information and encouraging (strong, but gentle) environmental message provides even more reason to have them on your bookshelf or, better still, coffee table. They make perfect gifts for people of any age. I am happy to recommend Kim’s books to you.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

23 thoughts on “A celebration of Australian picture books #3 — Kim Michelle Toft

  1. Bec

    A lovely post and great excuse to be reminded of these wonderful books. The books are so beautiful – and of course such important subject matter.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Bec. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. I can’t think of some of these books without thinking of you and times we have shared them and our thoughts about them.

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  2. writersideup

    Wow, Norah, thank you! What great videos 🙂 Watching Michelle work her process was fascinating. Absolutely stunning! And I remember hearing how pollution is damaging the beautiful reef. Oh, we humans 😦 Thanks SO much for sharing this 🙂

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  3. stuckinscared

    Beautifully illustrated books…so vibrant!
    My Littlie loves sea creature stories, one of her favs (and mine…I know it off by heart) being ‘Tiddler’ by Julia Donaldson. I’m going to have to stop hopping over here (said in jest), otherwise Santa’s going to have to remortgage the north pole to pay for Littlie’s ever growing book list… and I’m gonna find myself on the naughty list 😉

    Lovely books, lovely post… Thank you for sharing x

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    1. Norah Post author

      I am pleased you are enjoying the list of books, Kimmie. Limiting one’s purchases with books is always a problem isn’t it? It’s a good thing there are still libraries for borrowing. Are you able to do that? I’d hate for Santa to have to go into debt for books!
      I don’t know “Tiddler”. I’ll have to look out for it. I love Julia Donaldson’s work. She writes fabulous books. Funny thing is I heard her say in an interview that she doesn’t like children!!!! Surely I heard that wrong!
      Thanks for sharing. There is nothing like the love of good books.

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      1. stuckinscared

        Libraries don’t work well for Littlie… her books are one of her (rather obsessive) collections… she doesn’t understand ‘return’ 🙂 I don’t mind buying her books though…she loves them so.

        I’d not heard of Julia’s dislike of children, but I have heard tell that Enid Blyton (another of Littlie’s favorite authors…and mine) didn’t like children. How strange that they could write such magic for children despite having an aversion to them.

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        1. Norah Post author

          I understand Littlie’s need for ownership. How could one possibly part with a loved book, it would be like parting with a friend?
          When I was a child I treasured any books that I received as gifts. I borrowed frequently from the library too. But as I began earning money, book ownership became important to me. I wanted to have bookshelves overflowing with books and the opportunity of dipping back into the ones I loved whenever I wanted. Now I find they clutter my shelves and I don’t have the time for dipping – there’s too many more that I haven’t read to re-read the ones I have. Though I must admit there are a few I dip back into from time to time.
          And as for children – what’s to not like? (Maybe don’t answer that, or even think about it!)

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  4. Autism Mom

    My son would love these books – so beautiful and about sea life that he loves!

    He enjoyed the Great Barrier Reef video and wanted to know if there were komodo dragons on the Whitsundays – do you know?

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    1. Norah Post author

      I am thrilled that both you and the Navigator enjoyed finding out out the Great Barrier Reef. It is an amazing place. Maybe you’ll get to visit one day.
      Komodo dragons live only on islands in Indonesia, so not on the Whitsunday Islands. I’m not sure if that is what he was hoping or not. He may enjoy this information about the Komodo dragons. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com.au/animals/reptiles/komodo-dragon/
      or this video
      This page gives some information about wildlife on the Whitsundays. http://www.tourismwhitsundays.com.au/attractions/wildlife/
      Enjoy! Thanks for your interest. 🙂

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  5. Sarah Brentyn

    Oh, these are perfect for us. My kids LOVE oceans, sea creatures, and helping the environment. (Also, personally, I have always wanted to visit the Great Barrier Reef.) There are some fantastic picture books out there that manage to get a good story in (or poetry), beautiful illustrations, and a message that isn’t preachy. We have a lot of those. 🙂 I have to check these out.

    P.S. Have you heard of Dear Children Of The Earth?

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’m sure you’ll enjoy them, Sarah.
      Thank you for letting me know about “Dear Children of the Earth”. I wasn’t aware of it, but I just watched this beautiful video on YouTube. When there are so many broadcasting these wonderful messages, why aren’t more people responding?

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks Michelle. They are amazing. It’s great to see some different artistic styles illustrating children’s books. It’s an education in itself. “The World that We Want” is a wonderful book.

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