Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Friday, 11 September 2020

Representations of War in Australian and Ukrainian Picturebooks

 This week’s post presents a snapshot of doctoral research undertaken by Halyna Pavlyshyn. Her insights and discussion have a strong focus on visual literacy as Halyna compares and contrasts the techniques employed by illustrators in these selected titles.

The comparison of Australian and Ukrainian picturebooks representing war reveals a number of tendencies. While the war is condemned in both cultures - it is represented as a gory, horrific and destructive experience - the message is conveyed differently. In Australia, war narratives usually focus on the First World War, the legend of Anzacs and the lives of ordinary people who either went to war or who stayed in Australia hoping that their family members would return home safe. The war mostly takes place in Europe. The Australian picturebooks representing war often explore such themes as death, orphanhood, separation, military service, national identity, mateship, and the impact of war on its survivors (e.g. My Mother’s Eyes; Ride, Ricardo, Ride; Dreaming Soldiers).

                                          Ride Ricardo, Ride!                                    Dreaming Soldiers
                                    Phil Cummings & Shane Devries                Catherine Bauer & Shane McGrath


In contrast, the Ukrainian contemporary picturebooks about war are mostly written as tales with animal-like characters. Even though they refer to the current events in Ukraine, the war takes place in the imaginary land. The books show the horrors and the devastating consequences of war; however, they do it in a careful manner. It seems that despite condemning war, the authors attempt to give hope to their young readers and to protect them from the harsh reality (e.g. The War that Changed the Rondo, Adamantine Ants).

                             The War that Changed Rondo                                    Adamantine Ants
                       Andriy Lesiv & Romana Romanyshyn                               Larysa Nicov

In My Mother's Eyes
Mark Wilson

In addition, the Australian and Ukrainian war narratives employ distinct colour palettes to represent war. The sand-like yellow, earthy umbra, brownish sepia and clay orange, less often deep blue, as well as black and white are prevailing colours used to represent war in the Australian picturebooks. The distinction is drawn between Europe (the land of war) and Australia (beautiful homeland). This can be seen prominently in My Mother’s Eyes by Mark Wilson, where the colours used for depicting war are black, red, orange and yellow; and the colours to represent Australia are green and blue colours of the peaceful sky and the bushland.


Whereas, the Ukrainian picturebooks representing war show the contrast not so much in space, but in time: before the war and after war. The vibrant poppy red, bright orange, lemon-like yellow, spring-grass-green, light blue and white are used to depict life before the war. They are contrasted with pitch-dark black, fern-like-green, dark brown, bloody red, deep violet and dark blue for the illustrations representing the wartime and the time after the war. The colours, therefore, emphasise the difference between the peaceful time and the wartime in a war zone. The prominent example is the book The War that Changed Rondo by Andriy Lesiv and Romana Romanyshyn. At the end of the Ukrainian picturebooks, the colours are changed: they are not as vivid and bright as they used to be; however, not as gloomy as during the war. This technique might be used by the authors to give hope to the young Ukrainian readers witnessing the Russo-Ukrainian war which started in 2014.

Adamantine Ants retold in Ukrainian.

Halyna Pavlyshyn
PhD Candidate

This publication is a part of Halyna Pavlyshyn’s PhD research supervised by Dr Angela Thomas, Dr Damon Thomas and Prof Mike Corbett


You can find out more about these titles online.

Links for the Ukrainian picturebooks:


Links for the Australian picturebooks:


Friday, 4 September 2020

Father's Day - It's Reading Time!

Mum’s are invited to put their feet up this Father’s Day and let the Dads share in some of the bedtime rituals – such as reading the bedtime story! This week’s blogger is Felicity Sly, a Teacher Librarian at Don College in Devonport and CBCA Tas Committee Member.


As Father’s Day looms, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to have a look at some titles that feature dads, and to consider the role of dads in reading to children and the effect this has on the future literacy and reading.


“… Research shows that fathers are particularly influential for children’s language and literacy development, which means they are a promising point of intervention for efforts to improve children’s language and literacy” (Fatherhood Research and Practice Network, 2019, para 1). Not only do children benefit from being read to by their fathers, but fathers have also reported that they feel closer to their children through sharing this bedtime activity. It has also been noted that fathers interact differently during the reading session, than do mothers, with conversations generally ranging far beyond the content in the book being read (Schwanenflugel & Knapp, 2019).


Frank Woodley’s video provides 5 tips for reading aloud to children; especially targeting dads in his suggestions.

Tip 1: Be playful

Tip 2: Add sound effects

Tip 3: Add actions

Tip 4: Give life to the pictures

Tip 5: Get into character

Penguin Books Australia. (2020, August 23).
Frank Woodley 5 tips for reading aloud to children.


After watching the Fran Woodley video view other men reading picture books in this video compilation by Penguin (2020).


Dads don’t feature prominently in picture books, so here are some Australian titles to get you started.


The Man Who Loved Boxes (Stephen Michael King):
Dad isn’t great at expressing love in words, but is great at doing things with his son.


I Spy Dad!  (Janeen Brian & Chantal Stewart):
There are lots of dads, but finally the narrator spies her dad.


Harry and Hopper (Margaret Wild & Freya Blackwood):
Dad has to break the news that the beloved dog, Hopper has died, and help his son to cope with loss.


Cheeky Monkey (Andrew Daddo & Emma Quay):

Dad is doing the hands on activities with his son, with mum as the incidental adult in the story.

Grandma's Storytime. (2020, August 25).
Cheeky Monkey read by Grandma's Storytime.

My Dad Thinks He’s Funny (Katrina Germein and Tom Jellett):
Full of dad jokes!

Story Station. (2017, July 10). My dad thinks he's funny.

Kisses for Daddy (Frances Watts & David Legge):

In the only anthropomorphic book in this list Baby Bear doesn’t want to kiss his parents goodnight…but Daddy Bear whilst performing the bath/bedtime routine, manages to give lots of kisses, and finally receives a kiss and a hug.


Chrysalis Montessori. (2019, December 2). Kisses for daddy.

Molly and Her Dad (Jan Ormerod & Carol Thompson):
The only title in this list that is overtly ethnically diverse starts with memories of her Dad, before he arrives from overseas to entertain her friends.

Sydney Kate. (2019, June 10). Molly and her dad.

I can’t create a list without including Bob Graham’s dads. They are kind and involved in their family: Queenie the Bantam, Let’s Get a Pup! and The Trouble with Dogs! are great places to start.


So…Dads, if you’re not already sharing the story reading in your home, it’s a great time to start.


Happy Father’s Day



Fatherhood Research and Practice Network. (2016). The benefits of fathers reading to their children: Tips for fatherhood programs and dads. National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse. https://www.frpn.org/asset/the-benefits-fathers-reading-their-children-tips-fatherhood-programs-and-dads>

Penguin Books Australia. (2020, August 5). Read aloud videos by dads. https://www.penguin.com.au/articles/2790-read-aloud-videos-by-dads

Quinn, S. (2009). The depictions of fathers and children in best-selling picture books in the United States: A hybrid semiotic analysis. Fathering: A Journal of Theory, Research, and Practice About Men as Fathers, 7(2), 144-158. https://doi.org/10.3149/fth.0702.140

Schwanenflugel, P. J. & Knapp, N. F. (2019, June 16). A father's role(s) in reading. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/reading-minds/201906/fathers-roles-in-reading