Swan Lake By Anne Spudvilas, Allen and Unwin, 2017. Divided into three acts, the children’s picture book, Swan Lake, follows a similar format to the ballet. This is a clever structural technique used by the author/illustrator. The book has slightly more pages than a traditional picture book, the pages are thicker, and the book overall has a high-quality feel to it. This iconic ballet is a tragic love story of a princess who is turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. The book is set against the riverscape of the Murray-Darling basin, the longest river in Australia. Anne Spudvilas depicts this classic tale of passion, betrayal, and heartbreak with elegant and dramatic illustrations. Swan Lake is a classic story folded into a modern format. Awards Shortlisted for Picture Book of the Year 2018 by Children’s Book Council of Australia.
The Second Sky By Patrick Guest and Jonathan Bentley, Little Hare, 2017. ‘Great things happen when we reach for the sky.’ Little Gilbert is a dreamer. He is a little penguin with big clumsy feet and small little wings and he can’t fly up to where the other birds soar; where he wants to be. The Second Sky is a delightful story about one penguin’s determination and drive to not give up on his dream at any cost. But what Gilbert discovers is that there are some things that he cannot be, just like a person with brown eyes can’t ever have blue eyes, in the same way that fish can’t climb trees. On one of his attempts to fly like the albatross, Gilbert climbs high up the mountain and throws himself off, only to find himself…slipping…spinning…stumbling…tumbling down to the bottom and beyond into the sea, where he tumbles…bubbles and sinks. Here underneath the surface of the ocean he finds another world similar and equally as beautiful as the world above the surface of the water. Gilbert overcomes his obstacles, discovers his hidden talents, and learns to fly under the sea. He spreads his wings and… Awards Shortlisted for Children’s…
A Walk In The Bush By Gwyn Perkins, Affirm Press, 2017. A Walk In The Bush will take you and your child on a journey through the Australian bush. Grandad can’t find Iggy. He looks everywhere for him. When he finally finds him, he takes him on a journey into the Australian bush looking for wildlife. Together we meet many different native birds and learn their bird calls, and bump into the odd wallaby. There are also caterpillar messages on trees! This whole book is truly like the experience of walking through the Australian bush. Awards Winner: The Picture Book of the Year, Children’s Book Council of Australia, 2018.
Mopoke. By Philip Bunting, Scholastic, 2017. ‘This is a Mopoke. Mopoke loves peace and quiet. He is about to find out that you can’t always get what you want.’ Mopokes love the peace and quiet, but this little mopoke doesn’t really get much of that! Mopoke. is such a funny little story that even adults will enjoy it. Philip Bunting tells a tale with pictures and minimal text, but this book is definitely visually quirky with a hysterical tale to tell. Using as few words as possible, this author-illustrator has enjoyed a play on the word mopoke, and poked all manner of things! This book should become a classic. NB: A mopoke is a southern Australian boobook owl. It is Australia’s smallest and most common owl species. Awards Honours for The Picture Book of the Year 2018 by Children’s Book Council of Australia. Shortlisted for: Crichton Award for New Illustrators 2018 by Children’s Book Council of Australia. Longlisted for: Kate Greenaway Medal 2018. Indie Book Awards. Best Designed Children’s Illustrated Book 2018 by Australian Book Design Awards. Picture Book of the Year 2018 by Australian Book Industry Awards. Finalist for: Best Children’s Books 2017 by The Guardian.
Mad Magpie By Gregg Dreise, Magabala Books, 2016. ‘Stay calm like the surface of the water, yet strong like its current.’ This beautiful masterpiece is both written and illustrated by a descendant of the Kamilaroi and Yuwalayaay people of the north-west New South Wales and the south-west Queensland areas, and published by Magabala, the oldest independent Indigenous publishing house in Australia. Mad Magpie is a richly illustrated artistic masterpiece that integrates the author’s indigenous Gamilaraay language in the names of the animals that we meet throughout the book! Guluu is an angry magpie who has been teased by a group of butcher birds. In turn, Guluu has been swooping down and attacking other animals. We learn about why Guluu is so angry and what has been happening to him. The Elders teach Guluu how to deal with the mean butcher birds and not become angry when they tease him. Mad Magpie is a story about overcoming adversity and standing strong in the face of difficulty. I hope that if you are from a country other than Australia, that you would still consider buying this book. You and your child will learn a little about Australia’s ancient past, as well as…
There’s a Magpie in my Soup By Sean Farrar and Pat Kan, Big Spy Publishing, 2016. There’s a Magpie in my Soup takes a very different look at Australian animals. Some little creatures great and small, all over your house they will crawl! Into your soup, into your cake, even into your loo! There are animals everywhere, what do we do? I loved the cover and title of this book, but I felt that the text and subsequent illustrations left me wanting. My 12-year-old niece really enjoyed this book and gave it 10/10 for text, later changing her opinion to 7.5/10. She thinks it is a very smart story, but said, ‘it is smart while not very smart’. Some parts are good but some are boring. She didn’t like it as much as Rodney Loses It! But then again, I think she changed her mind after I shared what I thought of the book. Her first impression was that she loved it. So, there you go…maybe this is a book only the young mind appreciates! Download colouring in sheets for this title. Other titles by this author: There’s a Koala in my Kitchen
Chip By Kylie Howarth, Five Mile Press, 2016. Chip would do anything for fish and chips, but has he gone too far with his newly hatched plan? With a secret plan up his sleeve, Chip gathers his friends and they begin to practice and perfect their moves. The book has some interesting approaches in that there is one fold-out page, and one page that converts from landscape to portrait. Any child who has eaten fish and chips on the beach will relate to this story. The author/illustrator has also created teacher’s notes and a colouring sheet. Awards Shortlisted for The Picture Book of the Year 2017 by Children’s Book Council of Australia.
Magpie Learns a Lesson By Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, and illustrated by Tania Erzinger, Omnibus Books, Scholastic, 2015. ‘Two friends, Magpie and Brown Falcon, have different talents. But magpie is cross that she can’t fly like Brown Falcon and plays tricks on her friend.’ What a naughty little magpie this one is! Magpie Learns a Lesson, a very big lesson indeed! Two birds; two sides of a story. Magpie and Brown Falcon share the same forest, and one might call them friends; however, magpie has a different view. If you’re familiar with the story of the boy who cried wolf, then you’ll understand this story. It has a hint of tall poppy syndrome too, because magpie tries to bring Brown Falcon down. Brown Falcon looks up to Magpie. He loves the warble of this songbird and enjoys listening to it through the forest. Brown Falcon admires Magpie and rejoices in his songs, while Magpie if filled with envy of the great heights Brown Falcon can soar to, and the distances he can see from up there. Magpie is so jealous of his friend the Brown Falcon, that he tricks him repeatedly to make him feel bad. He puts out traps…
Dotty and the Magpie By Jackie Wells and Dana Brown, Little Steps Publishing, 2015. Dotty the Dalmatian wishes she was brightly coloured! Dotty and the Magpie is a delightful little book about a dalmatian dog who wishes that her spots were many different brightly coloured spots. One day she meets a magpie who takes her out into the world to see all the different things around the town that are black and white. Together Dotty and the Magpie walk over a zebra crossing, visit a racetrack and attend an orchestral performance where the pianist plays on black and white keys. Finally, they visit the aquarium where Dotty meets a black and white killer whale. When they return home, Dotty is no longer full of sighs and is met by a huge surprise. This journey into the world helps Dotty appreciate the colours that she has, so that she is happy with who she is and what she has, and doesn’t want to be something else. I think this is a strong message to send to kids to help them accept themselves for who they are, because let’s face, you can’t be anyone you’re not!
Magpie By Luke Davies and Inari Kiuru, ABC Books, 2010. A father and son embark on an epic journey, an intrepid adventure. Magpie attacks are a strong reality in Australia during the springtime. This story is based on a mostly true story of the author’s experience of being swooped by a magpie as a youth. Yes, another story about swooping magpies! In this adaptation, we follow the main character and his father (both dogs) down ‘Minnamurra Avenue. The bush. The creek. Looking for Magpie. It depicts a lovely relationship between a father and son, where the father will go to great lengths to show his son that he loves him and will protect him from bad things. Many pages occur without text, which allows your child to use their imagination to fill in the blanks.