Tag Archives: Australian picture books

#BeBraveMakeChange in National Reconciliation Week 2022 – #readilearn

Today, Friday 27 May is the first day of National Reconciliation Week which runs until 3 June. The theme this year is ‘Be Brave. Make Change.’

As expressed on the Reconciliation Australia website, the theme ‘is a challenge to all Australians— individuals, families, communities, organisations and government—to Be Brave and tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation so we can Make Change for the benefit of all Australians.’

It ‘is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.’

The dates are chosen to commemorate two events:

On 27 May 1967, more than 90% of Australians voted ‘Yes’ in a referendum to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would be recognised in the Census.

On 3 June 1992, the Australian High Court delivered the Mabo decision which recognised the incorrectness of the term ‘terra nullius’ (land belonging to no one). This decision led to the legal recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and paved the way for recognition of Native Title.

The day before Reconciliation Week, 26 May, is National Sorry Day which remembers and honours the Stolen Generations.

The website lists actions we can all take to make a change toward reconciliation.

The basis of many of these actions is education. It begins with us, teaching our children to honour and respect the cultures of our First Nations, to learn the truth of our history, and to implement actions for change.

I rarely mention politics in my posts, but with our recent change in government, I was very proud to be an Australian when the incoming Prime Minister Anthony Albanese acknowledged our First Nations peoples in both the introduction and content of his victory speech. These are the words with which he opened his speech:

“I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet. I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. And on behalf of the Australian Labor Party, I commit to the Uluru Statement from the heart in full.”

And these are the words which he used further in:

“And together we can embrace the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

“We can answer its patient, gracious call for a voice enshrined in our constitution. Because all of us ought to be proud that amongst our great multicultural society we count the oldest living continuous culture in the world.”

In further recognition, in his first press conference as Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese hung the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flags alongside the Australian flag in the media room at Parliament House. These statements give me hope for the recognition that our First Nations deserve and is long overdue.

In this post, I share some wonderful books by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors and illustrators. This is only a small selection of the growing number available. Magabala Books is a great resource to check out as it publishes only books by First Nations authors and illustrators. Other publishers also have a collection of titles, so it is worth checking out others too. I will be adding these titles to the list already available in readilearn resources Indigenous Australian picture books and resources. A previous post Resources for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Culture has links to many other useful resources also.

Books for Reconciliation

Common Wealth by Gregg Dreise

Published by Scholastic in 2021

Dreise is the author of many wonderful picture books. I first came upon his delightful stories in books such as Kookoo Kookaburra and Mad Magpie which introduce children to the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Common Wealth is different. It is a book that challenges us to acknowledge our true history and to ‘break down the barriers of division … by discussing without ammunition, a willingness to listen … to a true common wealth vision.’

The book may not be as suitable for sharing with our younger children, but it makes valuable reading for us anyway as it can empower us in our knowledge and discussions. The half-title page informs us that this book is ‘A Slam Poetry Persuasive — A picture book for older readers. Contains some confronting imagery.’

Dreise opens the book with the words, ‘All that I’m wishing, is that you take a moment to listen …You see, I’m on a mission, to spread unity — not division.’ He takes us on a journey through our national anthem and our history, pointing out the parts that are incorrect and what we need to do to make them more inclusive and true. His illustrations pull no punches and the text added to the illustrations add to the depth of the story and its message. There is much to contemplate and discuss. It may be challenging but it is also empowering and I, for one, can’t help myself wishing for change along with Gregg.

Finding Our Heart by Thomas Mayor, illustrated by Blak Douglas

Published by Hardie Grant 2020

Thomas Mayor was involved in the writing of the Uluru Statement of the Heart. His book for adults titled Finding the Heart of the Nation: The Journey of the Uluru Statement Towards Voice, Treaty and Truth talks about the writing of the statement and reports discussions with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people whom Mayor met with as he took the Statement on a journey around Australia. It is a very valuable read for adults.

Continue reading: #BeBraveMakeChange in National Reconciliation Week 2022 – readilearn

Make Time for families in National Simultaneous Storytime 2022 – #readilearn

Next week, on Wednesday 25 May at 11:00am AEST, we will be celebrating the 22nd National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS). Are you ready?

The event

National Simultaneous Storytime is an annual event organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) with the aim of promoting the value of reading and literacy.

Each year an Australian picture book is chosen to be read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the nations on either side of the Tasman Sea. Selected books explore age-appropriate themes and address key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Foundation to Year 6.

It is free to register for the event. If you do, on Monday 23 May you will receive various free downloadable material, including a PDF of the book, to support your own event. You can register right up until the event begins. There are also many other free teaching resources available on the website, including resources from Learn From Play, Clever Patch, and Clever Bean.

The book

The book selected for this year’s simultaneous story time is Family Tree written by Josh Pyke, illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh and published by Scholastic Australia. Family Tree is a celebration of family, community and the circle of life. It begins with the planting of a seed and is told from the tree’s point of view. As the tree grows, so does the family.

‘It started with a seed,

and that seed was me.

And, over time, laughter filled my garden…

A heartfelt celebration of family, community and the seasons of life, to cherish and to share.’

Visit Scholastic Australia’s website to purchase your copy of the book.

To help build your enthusiasm, here is a video of Josh talking about his book Family Tree.

I hope you and your children enjoy this exciting event. I’d love to know how you celebrate. I’ll be joining in, reading along with my own copy or perhaps joining in with the event organised at my local library. There’s so much fun to be had in books and libraries.

What I like about Family Tree

I love the way this book is told from the point of view of the tree, the way it notices changes in the family and the community through the

Continue reading: Make Time for families in National Simultaneous Storytime 2022 – readilearn

Quoll’s Great Idea by Joanna Tait and Muza Ulasowski — a review – #readilearn

Quoll’s Great Idea is about a Spotted Quoll who has very cold feet in the snow and finds a novel way to overcome this.

Today it is my pleasure to share my review of Quoll’s Great Idea written by Joanna Tait and illustrated by Muza Ulasowski. Muza sent me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

I have always admired Muza’s beautiful artwork and have previously introduced her to you when interviewing her about the beautiful picture book Forest Wonder written by Caroline Tuohey. You can read that interview here.

About author Joanna Tait

Joanna Tait is a medical practitioner, mother of five and grandmother of five with more grandchildren on the way. She has been writing all her life. Quoll’s Great Idea is her first published children’s picture book, with several more currently being illustrated.

About illustrator Muza Ulasowski

Quoll’s Great Idea by Joanna Tait and Muza Ulasowski is a great read allow introducing

Muza Ulasowski established her art studio, Muza Designs, in 2007, set in the leafy western suburb of Brookfield in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The studio is surrounded by a vast array of wildlife who tend to regularly make an appearance in her illustrations.

In 2010, she was invited to illustrate her first children’s picture book and enjoyed it so much, she has been collaborating ever since with Australian and international authors and publishers. To date she has illustrated over 10 published children’s picture books and is currently illustrating several more.

Whilst primarily concentrating on creating digital images for children’s picture books, Muza also specializes in graphic design, designing book covers and book layouts to print ready stage.

She also enjoys creating pencil and charcoal illustrations, acrylic painting, photographing wildlife and creating colourful merchandise from her artwork on her trusty sewing machine.

About Quoll’s Great Idea  — the blurb

Continue reading: Quoll’s Great Idea by Joanna Tait and Muza Ulasowski — a review – readilearn

Rollo’s Wet Surprise by Penny Macoun — a review – #readilearn

Today it is my pleasure to introduce you to the delightful new picture book Rollo’s Wet Surprise by Penny Macoun as part of a Books on Tour promotion.

About Penny Macoun

Penny Macoun was born in Sydney, Australia. She has been writing since 1993 when her story about a funnel web spider was printed in a school newsletter. Ever since, Penny has loved the ‘other worlds’ that words create, and hopes to continue to create these worlds for many years to come. Rollo’s Wet Surprise is her second book. When she is not writing or editing, Penny dabbles in various forms of visual arts and enjoys being in the garden.

About Rollo’s Wet Surprise

Rollo is a dog who loves to go to work with his owner, Jim. Jim is a builder, and when he is working, Rollo loves to explore all the different homes Jim and his team of builders work at.

One day, the builders are moving lots of big, heavy windows to a safe area. Rollo begins to explore this new part of the garden, and sniffs around.

While Rollo is exploring, he gets a very wet surprise!

What I like about this book

Continue reading: Rollo’s Wet Surprise by Penny Macoun — a review – readilearn

Join Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas for National Simultaneous Storytime

Join Whitney and Britney, the Chicken Divas for National Simultaneous Storytime 2020 – #readilearn

In less than a week, we will be celebrating the 20th National Simulateous Storytime. Are you ready?

National Simultaneous Storytime is an annual event held in Library and Information Week, the last week of May, in Australia and New Zealand. The event is organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) with the aim of promoting the value of reading and literacy.

Each year an Australian picture book is chosen to be read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the nations on either side of the Tasman Sea. Selected books explore age-appropriate themes and address key learning areas of the National Curriculum for Foundation to Year 6.

This year the book is Whitney and Britney Chicken Divas, written and illustrated by Lucinda Gifford.

This book is fun and exciting and will appeal to the adults reading it as much as to the little ones listening to it. While the children may not yet be aware of the original Whitney and Britney divas, their parents and teachers will be.

12 Dancing Princesses

Arthur Rackham / Public domain

When I first began reading the book, I was reminded of the Grimm’s fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses. However, the ending is different and modernised and perhaps more enjoyable for the readers as well as the characters.

Whitney and Britney are gorgeous chooks who live with the elegant Dora von Dooze. While she appreciates their eggs, she’d also enjoy their company. Alas, they sleep throughout the day, which makes Dora a little curious.

Dora determines to discover what they get up to each night while she is asleep; and discover she does. But how does she react and what happens when she finds out?  You will have to read the book to find out what surprises await Dora as well as Whitney and Britney.

Continue reading: Join Whitney and Britney, the Chicken Divas for National Simultaneous Storytime 2020 – readilearn

interview with Wendy Haynes author of Hayden's Bedtime

Interview with Wendy Haynes, author of Hayden’s Bedtime #booksontourpr – #readilearn

Today, it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Wendy Haynes and her delightful new picture book Hayden’s Bedtime as part of the Books on Tour promotion.

About Wendy Haynes

Wendy Haynes has completed a Diploma in Creative Writing at Southern Cross University. Her writing focuses on middle-grade fantasy, historical, and contemporary stories for children, picture books, junior fiction, and YA. She believes that having a regular writing practice, and understand the device at your disposal, is the key to not only completing a story but in building the skills required to produce a worthy manuscript.

About Hayden’s Bedtime

What parent of a young child hasn’t had to perform a bedtime ritual to get the child into bed and off to sleep? Hayden’s Dad is no different as he checks every corner, every nook and cranny to ensure there is nothing lurking in the bedroom. All he finds are everyday things like building blocks and smelly socks, toy cars and chewed up gum. When the child is satisfied that all is safe, Dad reads a story and the child settles down for a good night’s sleep.

Why I like this book:

Continue reading: Interview with Wendy Haynes, author of Hayden’s Bedtime #booksontourpr – readilearn

visiting with illustrator Helene Magisson

Visiting with illustrator Hélène Magisson – readilearn

This week I’m visiting with illustrator Helene Magisson to chat about her latest book Sarah’s Two Nativities written by Janine M Fraser and published by Black Dog Books. The book is due for release this month with a launch scheduled for the 21st.

About Helene

I first introduced you to Helene in 2017 when she chatted about her process of illustrating, especially as it related to the beautiful book of poetry Magic Fish Dreaming written by June Perkins. You can read that interview here.

Since the publication of Magic Fish Dreaming, Helene has illustrated a number of other books and now has eleven published books in her portfolio, with more on the way. I am not surprised that Helene is sought after as an illustrator. I think you’d have to agree that her, mainly watercolour, illustrations are exquisite and possess an almost magical quality.

Although Helene now calls Australia home, she has lived in countries all over the world, including Africa, France, and India. That her travels both inspire and enrich her work is obvious in her delightful illustrations that perfectly complement Janine Fraser’s story Sarah’s Two Nativities.

About Sarah’s Two Nativities

From the publisher:

‘Sarah loves her two grandmas – Grandmother Azar and Grandmother Maria. Grandmother Azar tells Sarah stories from the Holy Koran, while Grandmother Maria tells her stories from the Bible. At Christmas time, Sarah snuggles in each of her grandmothers’ laps and listens to two nativities stories about the birth of baby Jesus. They are the same in some ways, and different in others … but both can be Sarah’s favourite.’

Continue reading: Visiting with illustrator Hélène Magisson – readilearn

Getting ready for National Simultaneous Storytime

Are you ready for National Simultaneous Storytime? – readilearn

It’s time to celebrate National Simultaneous Storytime. Held every year since 2001 and organised by the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS) encourages everyone in Australia to read the same picture book at the same time.

This year’s event takes place next

Wednesday 22 May at 11 am AEST.

The picture book to be read is

Alpacas with Maracas by Matt Cosgrove.

As outlined on the website, the purpose of the event is to:

  • promote the value of reading and literacy,
  • promote the value and fun of books,
  • promote an Australian writer and publisher,
  • promote storytime activities in public libraries and communities around the country,
  • and provide opportunities to involve parents, grandparents, the media and others to participate in and enjoy the occasion.

Participating in such an event will help children to see themselves as part of a larger community of readers and understand that reading is not something confined to their classroom but enjoyed by others everywhere.

Everyone can participate — libraries, schools, childcare centres, bookshops families, grandparents, individuals.

Registration for NSS is free and, if you register prior to Monday 20 May, you will receive downloadable material to support your event, including a free downloadable PDF version of the book to use during your NSS event.

Free teaching ideas

In addition to all the great teaching ideas available on the NSS website, other teaching ideas and resources are available from

Continue reading: Are you ready for National Simultaneous Storytime? – readilearn

Interview with Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie's Adventures in South Africa

readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

This week I have great pleasure in introducing Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern author of Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa. This post is but one of several celebrating Jacqueline’s beautiful picture book in Romi Sharp’s Books on Tour. Please read to the end of the post for details of other posts celebrating Jacqueline’s work.

About Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern is a Canberra based author and the recipient of the ACT Writers Centre 2017 Anne Edgeworth Fellowship. Her debut picture book, Charlie’s Adventures…in Hawaii, was shortlisted for the 2017 Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards and chosen as a finalist in the 2017 American Best Book Awards. Her second book in the Charlie’s Adventure series, Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa, was recently released. At the heart of Jacqueline’s books are an appreciation of travel and the uniqueness of culture. She endeavours to encourage her readers to learn more about the world, supporting an empathetic and inclusive community.

About Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa

Charlie is off on the second of his adventures with his family … to South Africa! With his friends, Charlie is set on a discovery of different clues to uncover South Africa’s Rainbow Nation. Join Charlie and his family on their adventures across the world.

The interview

Welcome to readilearn, Jacqueline.

Thanks for inviting me.

Jacqueline, what gave you the idea for this book?

Continue reading: readilearn: Books on Wednesday — Charlie’s Adventures…in South Africa by Jacqueline de Rose-Ahern

Interview with Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World's Worst Pirate by Michelle Worthington

readilearn: Introducing Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate

This week I have enormous pleasure in introducing you to Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate, written by Michelle Worthington.

The World’s Worst Pirate is a captivating book about being true to yourself and unleashing your inner strengths.

Story Synopsis

One might wonder why Will, the world’s worst pirate, would want to be a pirate anyway. The truth is, he didn’t. There wasn’t much at all he liked about being at sea. He was happiest in the galley cooking cupcakes. The ship’s captain, his mother, on the other hand, couldn’t understand why he didn’t love being a pirate as much as she did. When the ship is attacked by a terrifying sea monster, no one could have predicted the outcome. Katrin Dreiling’s illustrations are a perfect fit or Michelle Worthington’s story. They add humour, delight, and a sub-plot of their own.

The Illustrator

The World’s Worst Pirate, published by Little Pink Dog Books in 2017, is Katrin’s first picture book. In 2018 the book received the CBCA Notable Book award, a wonderful achievement, especially for a first book. Prior to becoming an illustrator in Australia, Katrin studied languages in Germany to become a teacher. She loves to come up with quirky creations that inspire children to get creative themselves. Katrin’s second book, also written by Michelle and published by Little Pink Dog Books, will launch in September this year.  Katrin also enjoys writing for children and regularly teaches art classes in Newfarm, Brisbane.

The Interview

Welcome to readilearn, Katrin.

Thank you for inviting me.

Katrin, The World’s Worst Pirate was listed as a Notable Picture Book in the CBCA 2018 Book of the Year awards. Congratulations. Since it is your very first published picture book, that must have been very special. How did it make you feel?

Continue reading: readilearn: Introducing Katrin Dreiling illustrator of The World’s Worst Pirate