A celebration of Australian picture books #7 — celebrating Christmas

 

With Christmas just around the corner it is appropriate to continue my series in Celebration of Australian Picture Books with some Australian Christmas picture books. This post is the seventh in a series celebrating picture books by Australian authors. If you missed earlier posts, please follow these links to the introductionMem FoxKim Michelle ToftNarelle OliverJeannie Baker and Jackie French.

Christmas in Australia is unlike that in most other parts of the world that celebrate the holiday. In Australia, Christmas falls in summer and people generally head for the beach or somewhere with air conditioning to cool down. While many still follow the traditions of the Northern Hemisphere with baked dinner and plum puddings, many opt for seafood  and salad, and outdoor barbecues and picnics. Whatever the weather Christmas is a great time for catching up with family and friends (or not, depending on your family!)

I shared some thoughts about Christmas in Australia last year when I posted I’m (not) dreaming of a white Christmas. This year the post is specific to picture books.

Some Australian Christmas picture books

Some Australian Christmas picture books

Because our climate is so different and we have such a small population down here, most of what is available for us to read, sing or view deals with situations very different from our warm sunny days. I’m pleased to say, though, that there is an increasing number of songs and books with an Australian flavour available. However, many are merely innovations on the traditional such, as The Australian Twelve Days of ChristmasAussie Jingle Bells or An Aussie Night before Christmas.

12 underwater days of Christmas

One innovation I particularly like is The Twelve Underwater Days of Christmas by Kim Michelle Toft. I celebrated Kim’s work previously in this series. Kim is an Australian who uses her talents as author and illustrator to educate children about things for which she is passionate: ocean life and coastal habitats. The stunning illustrations in this book, as in others, are hand-painted on silk; providing a richness of information through visual as well as textual features. In addition to the information about the animals, Kim includes a stunning six-page foldout poster, and information about the original carol.

Christmas Wombat

Jackie French, another whose work I have previously shared in this series, also has a Christmas picture book in the Wombat series, Christmas Wombat. It is just as delightful as the other wombat stories and tells of Wombat’s Christmas Day with sleep, adventure, sleep, and treats.

Wombat Divine

Using the traditional Nativity play as the setting, Mem Fox, another whose work I shared in this series created an original and fresh story in Wombat Divine. It is a delightful tale of Wombat who loved everything Christmas. When finally he was old enough to be in the Nativity Play he rushed along to the auditions. Unfortunately, it was difficult to find a role that was just right for Wombat. Can you guess which one he got? You’ll have to read the book to find out! Children all over the world will identify with Wombat and his predicament, and enjoy the heart-warming tale.

PS who stole santa's mail

For slightly older children there is the first chapter book PS: Who Stole Santa’s Mail by Dimity Powell, who is very active in the local SCBWI group. She blogs at  Dim’s Write Stuff. This is a fun story filled with mystery, magic and humour and a great first step into chapter books. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

We do have a few original Christmas songs to listen to as well. One that I enjoyed listening to on the radio as a child, and delight in now hearing my grandchildren sing, is Six White Boomers. It is a lovely tale of a joey kangaroo who is lost and alone in a zoo. Santa rescues Joey and reunites him with his mother on Christmas Day. Of course to get there, Joey is treated to a ride on Santa’s sleigh pulled by six huge white kangaroos.

Peter Combe has written two albums of original, but with a traditional rather than specifically Australian flavour, Christmas songs for children, including this one:

Children around Australia are finishing their last few days of the school year within the next week. They will then have five to six weeks of holidays before starting back for a new school year. I have shared previously about the importance of keeping children’s love of learning alive and described easy ways of incorporating learning into everyday family activities. If you know of any families in need of suggestions, please give them a copy of:

20 suggestions for maintaining reading momentum during the school holidays

Let the children write! 20 suggestions to get children writing during the school holidays

Counting on the holidays!

These are available free download in my Teachers Pay Teachers and Teach in a Box stores. Soon they will also available free on my website.

Of course books always make wonderful gifts and any of the books mentioned here would be a great addition to anyone’s collection.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.

 

 

 

31 thoughts on “ A celebration of Australian picture books #7 — celebrating Christmas

  1. Pingback: Readilearn: Introducing Kim Michelle Toft, author and illustrator | Norah Colvin

  2. Pingback: Guess what you’re getting for Christmas! | Norah Colvin

  3. alexpolistigers

    What an interesting post! I have just been writing about a winter based Christmas, with all its associated traditions in Greece, and your post has come as a lovely piece of freshness after that. I am also wondering whether my children would like a Christmas wombat book, and indeed if they even know what a wombat is. Thank you for this!

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    1. Norah Post author

      I haven’t before thought about what Christmas might be like in Greece. You have piqued my interest. Thank you. If you have a link to what you have written, please share so I can take a look. 🙂
      It’s never too late to learn about these adorable creatures called wombats. I’m sure your children, whatever their ages, would love these wombat books!
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

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      1. alexpolistigers

        Thanks for asking. This is the link to the adult article: http://www.travelthruhistory.com/html/historic160.html
        And here you can see what I have written for children: http://jumpbooks.co.uk/product/instaexplorer-3-christmas-in-greece/

        I have been inspired by you 😉 We are going to read about wombats this Christmas! My older child, just 8, has heard the word but didn’t know what it was exactly, so this has been an educational opportunity. The younger ones hadn’t a clue!

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        1. Norah Post author

          Millie, it is lovely to have met you on my blog. Thank you for stopping by. I think we might have a few interests in common.
          Thank your for linking to the articles. I enjoyed reading about the Greek festival on Travel Thru History. I am interested in the sound of your InstaExplorer series. I don’t have time to check them out at the moment but look forward to doing so. Please feel welcome to remind me at some stage.
          Enjoy your Greek Christmas, with a touch of Australiana in there! Please let me know what the children think of the wombats. If we keep our minds and eyes open we can find educational opportunities everywhere. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      I can’t write about Peter Coombe without thinking of you singing and dancing to his music. Do you remember when we went to his concert in City Hall? I think you were about five. It was loads of fun.

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  4. macjam47

    What a wonderful post, Norah! It is interesting to see how others celebrate Christmas. Your Christmas story books are all totally new to me. Ordinarily I would say it was hard to imagine Christmas in the summer, but we’ve had such unusually high temps for this time of year, we are close enough to summer weather.
    Thank you for sharing a this peek at Christmas in Australia.
    Merry Christmas.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your lovely comment, Michelle. We’ve each traded suggestions of Christmas books. It is nice to find some particular to your own situation.
      I’m sorry the weather has stayed warm when it should be cooler for you. I hope you have some more pleasant weather over the holidays. Enjoy the season. Best wishes for 2016.

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  5. Dimity Powell

    Norah, what a wonderful post. Thank you warmly for the lovely mention, too! I adore this time of year and consume Christmas reads with as much vigor as fruit mince pies. 😀 You’ve got some real rippers in your round up. Thanks again, Sorry we missed you at the SCBWI do this year. 😦 Hope to see you again in the new one, though. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Books/fruit mince pies? Just as well both can be enjoyed at the same time!
      I was disappointed to miss the lunch as well. I’m sure you all had a wonderful time. I look forward to catching up next year. 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment Florence. I’m pleased to hear you are also a fan of Mem Fox.
      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your day at the beach! 🙂

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  6. Charli Mills

    What fun books to represent your region’s Christmas. I love the Wombat series. Our 4th of July is probably the closest comparison to food celebrations. We BBQ and celebrate outside with fireworks and time at the lake. Christmas is usually white, like the songs that probably seem so strange in Australia!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for your comment, Charli. I guess the 4th of July is a good comparison since it also occurs in your summer. I hope your white Christmas is fun. You don’t even have to dream of it. I can’t begin to imagine it. 🙂

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  7. Sacha Black

    Love your book recommendations, especially this series because they are books I would never have known of as they are Australian. Lucky for me, my best friend is living in Northern Sydney. So if I want to get some of them for my boy, I can get her to post them to me. 🙂 Having only ever experience freezing cold Christmas days I cannot imagine it! hope you are all ready – I am drastically behind! :S

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks, Sacha. I’m pleased you find the books appealing. You could order them online. I’m sure most of them would be available from stores such as the Book Depository.
      I hope your freezing cold day is enjoyable, and that you are ready for it when it arrives. This year has flown for me and I don’t feel ready for Christmas to be here at all. I have put up my tree and bought gifts for my grandchildren, but nothing else at this stage. I have a lot to do!
      I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. It will be very exciting with your little one this year.

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  8. Sherri

    I’ll take that prawn salad right about now, thanks very much Norah! I still find it so hard to grasp that your Christmas is a summer event…I’ve never spent it on the beach, but then I know that spending it by a fire with snow falling outside is a very strange thought for you…although it’s been a long while since I’ve had a white Christmas, and at this rate, it looks as if we’ll be in for a very wet and windy one 😮 I wish I had little ones to buy for, all these books look wonderful. I saw one in a book shop the other day called The Jolly Postman. I still have it somewhere in a box…it has interactive letters and Christmas cards, invitations and all sorts on each page as the story reads on. I love that book so much, I wish I could find it and read it now, whether it’s for kids or not!

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    1. Norah Post author

      I’d love you to join me in a prawn salad, with mango and honey-roasted macadamias. What a treat we would have.
      I hope your weather eases for you and that the holiday season turns out to be not so wet and windy. I know the rain over there has been incredible the last couple of weeks. I hope you have fared okay.
      I love the Jolly Postman books too, and the Jolly Postman Christmas Book is a special favourite. I haven’t written about it as I have featured Australian books but it could have a post all of its own. It is fun to read, and all the cards, letters, puzzles, recipes etc make it all the more special. I love it when the postman calls in and has tea with Santa, and gets a ride home on Santa’s sleigh. Maybe I’ll have to give it its own post before Christmas. Thank you for reminding me of it. Another favourite from my childhood is “The Christmas Robin”. It also is a snowy story, but it is lovely. Do you know it? The robin flies into the house looking for food on the Christmas tree. The family come in and discover him.I love having children around as an excuse for reading the books, but without children I have to read them to myself anyway! 🙂

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      1. Sherri

        Thanks for your concern Norah, I’m fine, apart from racing around like a headless chicken, lol, but we’re in for more rain and wind this weekend apparantley! It seems never ending at the moment. I just hope it isn’t too bad for those up north again, where it’s been really bad this year. And that would make a wonderful post, oh I just adore The Jolly Christmas Postman 🙂 I’ve got the others ones too, maybe I need to get that box down from the loft! I’ve not read The Christmas Robin though, which surprises me I’ve not heard of it considering I adore Christmas and robins! Sounds just my kind of story 🙂

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        1. Norah Post author

          I’m pleased you are fine, and I hope the weather stays fine, especially for those who were inundated with so much water. If only it would fall if and when we wish it. I guess there are scientists working on that, but we couldn’t have things too perfect now could we? We wouldn’t appreciate it.
          You have inspired my next post in which I will share the Jolly Christmas Postman. I’m so looking forward to reading it again. Yes, maybe you should get your box down from the loft. Who knows what you will find. 🙂

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          1. Sherri

            Thanks Norah…and yes, wouldn’t it be great if scientists could sort out the weather, honestly, it’s not too much is it? 😉 Seriously though, you’re right, we’d still not be happy even then… ! Oh I look forward very much to your Jolly Christmas Postman post – ha, trying saying that after a couple glasses of wine (not that I have, since it’s 6.45 in the morning, I’m just imagining, lol 🙂 ). It’s a delightful book. I don’t know who was more excited turning each page to see what surprise it held, me or the kids. I know I won’t get my box down before Christmas now, no time, so instead, I shall eagerly await your post. I have just put up my Christmas post as I will be disappearing until after the new year, but I will keep an eye out here before that 🙂

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            1. Norah Post author

              Thanks Sherri. My Christmas Postman post is writ and will be up tomorrow. He’s a Jolly Postman so I’m sure he enjoys a drink or two himself. It does say ‘tea’ in the book, but maybe the authors were just protecting his good name while the children were listening!
              I agree with you about the target audience of the story. There is so much humour and cleverness in the story and gifts that could only be appreciated by adults. But children love it too. There’s definitely too much in it for one sitting. My grandchildren will be over tomorrow. I’m hoping they’ll allow me the pleasure of reading it to them!
              I hope you are disappearing into a wonderful family time. Best wishes to you all. I look forward to catching up in 2016!!!!! 🙂

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              1. Sherri

                You can see how much I adored your postman post Norah! Thank you again so much for it..and I love the image of you reading our favourite book to your grandchildren, I’m sure they thoroughly enjoyed it! I’m disappearing for real now…but just wanted to pop in one more time and catch up…and wish you once more a very Happy Christmas and New Year. See you indeed in 2016!!! xxx

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                  1. Sherri

                    Ahh…that’s so sweet Norah, thank you so much and I wish you all of the above also 🙂 And I am really disapppearing now…over and out going, going…..gone…until next year! See you in 2016!!! Love & hugs.. xxxxxxxxx ❤

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