Each day between January 1st and 26th, I’m showcasing a picture book by an Australian author and illustrator.
I’ve been having loads of fun sharing gorgeous books over on Instagram with #26daysofaussiepicturebooks.
Week 1 saw a few books celebrating Aussie animals, which resulted in this finger puppet craft.
This week saw zombie rabbits, retro illustrations, convicts and one of my most favourite picture books. Ever.
Look and See by Shane Morgan
A short but sweet text that uses simple rhyming text to capture the exploits of some cheeky Australian animals.
Suitable for very young readers, this book contains simple line drawings with bold colours.
My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen and James Foley
I described this to someone on Instagram as “Like The Walking Dead. For kids. But with rabbits.”
This is a zombie rabbit tale.
After chewing through the TV cord and electrocuting himself, Bradley goes off to the big rabbit playground in the sky.
His owner, our narrator, misses Bradley so much that he digs him up from his backyard grave.
Bradley then proceeds to terrorise the family. How to deal with the zombie bunny issue?
The resolution is hilarious.
The rhyming text of Sigi Cohen has the perfectly morbid mix of black humour and sass that kids will love.
The illustrations by James Foley reference horror films (I’ve never sat through an entire screening of The Shining!) and are comedic perfection.
Parents may be slightly taken aback at the morbid subject matter.
Kids will be rolling around on the floor in fits of laughter. That’s my call.
My Name is Lizzie Flynn by Claire Saxby and Lizzy Newcomb
“My Name is Lizzie Flynn” is based on the story of the Rajah quilt which is now housed in the National Gallery.
The quilt was made by unknown women convicts aboard the Rajah as they sailed to Australia in 1841.
Claire Saxby has given a fictitious face to one of these women, Lizzie Flynn, sentenced to 7 years for stealing a shawl.
The story, and illustrations by Lizzy Newcomb, capture the day-to-day angst of the downtrodden convict women as they travel towards an uncertain future.
It is refreshing to see the convict experience being told from a female perspective.
Teacher friends, this would be a phenomenal resource for a mid to upper primary unit on convicts and British colonisation.
The little toy horse and chair are a tribute to my family’s convict history.
One of my ancestors was transported to Australia for stealing a horse.
Here he met his future wife who was convicted of receiving chairs she knew to be stolen.
Together they had 9 children. It is because of them that I am lucky to call Australia home.
Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon
This is one of my most favourite picture books ever (in the history of all picture books.)
“Herman and Rosie” by @gusgordonbooks sings the tale of neighbouring strangers living in New York City.
Herman is an oboe-playing crocodile who lives above Rosie, a doe who sings jazz at the Mangy Hound.
One night they hear each other’s song and it follows them around as they each eke out a living.
Herman works as a phone sales employee and Rosie as a kitchen hand. We follow their parallel lives, willing their paths to cross.
Gus Gordon’s incredible mixed media illustrations incorporate maps, newspaper, vintage postcards and sheet music and evoke a wanderlust for NYC.
This is one of those books where you can’t quite pinpoint exactly what makes it so magical.
At times it is heart-achingly melancholic.
It is charming and quirky and uplifting.
It’s about isolation and belonging in the big city. It’s a soul-stirring ode to following your dreams.
It’s a love song about life in NYC. It’s about your vibe attracting your tribe.
It’s about having a purpose that gives your life meaning.
It’s about love.
I’ve an Uncle Ivan by Ben Sanders
If rollicking rhyme and retro-style illustrations are your thing, then this book is for you.
“I’ve an Uncle Ivan” by Ben Sanders has been described as “Seuss meets Sasek.”
It is super fun to read aloud and the illustrations can be pored over for ages. We meet Uncle Ivan in his pie van and are then introduced to his extended family and the various modes of transport they use.
Where are they all going? The illustrations provide hints about the identity of this family and where they are all heading.
This would be a fantastic book to use in classrooms studying units on family or transport.
Mum Goes to Work by Libby Gleeson and Leila Rudge
My maternity leave ends after Easter and back to work I shall go.
I’d best call Ali’s mum for a crash course in how to be a teacher again.
“Mum Goes to Work” by Libby Gleeson and @leilarudge will be on high rotation to prepare the little Oh Creative Kids for their mum going back to work.
The story opens with morning drop-off at the childcare centre.
Each following spread introduces us to a mum and her child.
We learn what mum does at work and this is juxtaposed against what her child is doing at daycare.
The imaginative play of the child often endearingly mimics the work of the Mumma Bear.
This book was first published in 1992 and this edition features the gorgeous illustrations of @leilarudge.
This would be an excellent resource not just for a unit on family and relationships but also for a unit on visual literacy- the beautiful and emotive illustrations add a whole new layer of meaning to the story by portraying an array of stories within the main story.
This book celebrates all the multi-tasking mums out there.
I especially love the diversity shown of all the families.
Bob the Railway Dog by Corinne Fenton and Andrew McLean
This tale is based on the true story of Bob.
Legend has it that everyday, Bob would trot to the station with his master, a train driver.
Every evening, he would be there awaiting his master’s return.
One day, Bob jumped aboard his master’s train. From that day on, Bob traversed South Australia aboard many a train with “adventure in this heart and the rattle of the rails in his soul.”
This is also an ode to the opening up of the interior of Australia in the 1800s as railways sprung up like “spider webs.”
Apparently Bob was even spotted as far north as Queensland.
The epilogue contains a photo of the real-life Bob.
At the National Railway Museum on Port Adelaide, Bob’s special collar is housed.
A gift from the railway men, it contains the words “Stop me not, but let me jog, for I am Bob the Driver’s Jog.”
Such a heart-warming tale.
Tune in on Friday for a railway craft activity inspired by Bob the Railway Dog.
Check back in next Wednesday for the books featured in the 3rd week of celebrations.
When I purchase my books, I use Booktopia. Their prices are competitive and their delivery is prompt. The titles and images of each book will take you to the Australian based online bookstore Booktopia. As a Booktopia Affiliate, purchases clicked through from my blog result in a small commission. You do not pay any extra for your books! Commission is used to maintain Oh Creative Day and a portion of commissions made is donated to the Touched By Olivia Foundation. Happy Reading!