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

Friday 30 April 2021

Picture Book and Early Childhood Notables at a Glance

This snapshot of nearly all the titles on the CBCA Notables for the Picture Book of the Year and Early Childhood awards comes from Loretta Brazendale who has been busy reading this amazing array of picture books. She has rated each title based on her personal opinion and reaction to each story and they are presented in no particular order. There are some here that she definitely would have liked to have seen shortlisted. What do you think?

Picture Book of the Year Notable list

Wombat by Philip Bunting

A funny rhythmic, read a-loud describing the different wombats. My favourite was the Om-nom-nom-nom-nombat.


Not Cute by Philip Bunting

A little Quokka who did not like being cute. He dressed as different characters in the book, but his stubbornness lead to him becoming a victim in the story.  Illustrations gorgeous.


Your Birthday was the Best by Maggie Hutchings & Evie Barrow

Very imaginative and fun story, I can imagine children loving this book. The illustrations were excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the story of this very happy and determined cockroach.


My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart 

Beautiful, uplifting book about daring to be different and having the courage to be true to yourself. 


Good Question- A Tale Told Backwards by Sue Whiting & Annie White

A hungry Fox makes an appearance in a number of famous fairy tale stories looking for something to eat….. I loved the way this story was written and it was a joy to read out-loud. 


Hello Jimmy! By Anna Walker

A touching story about a boy and his father who are bought together by a cheeky parrot.


The Fire Wombat by Jacki French  & Danny Snell

A wonderful story of courage and survival from a little wombat and the other animals she encounters in the Australian bush during a bush fire. This book is beautifully illustrated.


The Biscuit Maker by Sue Lawson & Liz Anelli

An uplifting book that celebrates community and human connection – through an elderly neighbour who bakes cookies for the people who live in Mavin in Mavin Road. 


The Unwilling Twin by Freya Blackwood

Charming story about 2 unlikely twins. Little girl Jules and George the pig. 


I Saw Pete and Pete Saw Me by Maggie Hutchings

This book was very touching and thoughtful. The illustrations really made the story. 


Little Light by Kelly Canby 

A wonderfully illustrated and cleverly written book about embracing differences. 


Anisa’s Alphabet by Mike Dumbleton & Hannah Sommerville

A picture book for older children. The story follows Anisa Journey as a refugee. With each letter of the Alphabet representing parts of her journey.


Wolfred by Nick Bland

Wonderful illustrations and clever rhyming language. Makes this imaginative story a fun and enjoyable read.


Ellie’s Dragon by Bob Graham

A book about growing up and losing your child like imagination. Told through the eyes of Ellie and her imaginary friend Scratch. 


How to Make a Bird by Meg McKinkey & Matt Ottley

Beautifully illustrated book with quite a poetic style which conveys a wonderful message to children as well as the adult reader. 


Girl by the Sea by Margaret Wild & Jane Tanner

Illustrations were amazing. The storyline was very sombre and probably more suited to older children.


Sing Me the Summer by Jane Godwin & Alison Lester
Such a sweet book about the seasons and Alison Lester’s illustrations bring the book to life. 


Who’s Your Real Mum? by Bernadette Green & Anna Zobel

When Elvie’s friend Nicholas is trying to work out which one is Elvie’s real mum because she has 2 mums. Elvie’s has a great way of explaining how they are both her real mums. 


Jelly-Boy by Nicole Godwin & Christopher Nielsen

Sweet story about a jelly fish who thinks a plastic bag is one like him. And how he sees the danger of the pollution in his ocean. Great story to explain to children about pollution in our water ways. 


Sometimes Cake by Edwina Wuatt & Tamsin Ainsile

A sweet story that shows the importance of celebrating the little things in life as much as the big things. Book is beautifully illustrated.


Who am I? by Philip Bunting 

A thought-provoking book about just what it is that makes us, us. I believe adults will get just as much out of this book as the children. 


Norton and the Bear by Gabriel Evans

A happy feel good book that is sure to give children a good giggle. 


Diamonds by Armin Greder

The book explores very adult themes and is thought provoking for older children.


Give me some Space by Philip Bunting

Colourful and amusing tale about a girl who loves all things space. Illustrations are beautiful in this book. 


Early Childhood Notable list

Anemone is Not the Enemy by Anna McGregor
The cute little Anemone just wanted a friend he couldn’t sting!! I loved the story and illustrations in this book, especially the Hermit Crab’s journey taking place on each page.


Bear in Space by Deborah Abela & Marjorie Crosby-Fairall

A story bout being different and daring to dream and finding friendship in the most unusual places.


Me and My Boots by Penny Harrison & Evie Barrow

Cute book about a little girl and her boots that take her on different adventures.


Ten Little Figs by Rhian Williams & Nathaniel Eckstrom

A count down story as 10 figs disappear via some of Australia’s most loved and iconic native animals.


Ruby Red Shoes: My Wonderful Grandmother by Kate Knapp    

A touching story of a little girl and her Grandmother who teaches her an important lesson on being herself and not caring what others think of you.


I'll Always be Older Than You by Jane Goodwin & Sara Acton

A touching story about siblings and growing up. 


What do you call your Grandpa? By Ashleigh Barton & Martina Heiduczek

The story goes through all the different names of Grandpa’s from around the world. Illustrations were lovely in this book. 


There’s no such Thing by Heidi Mckinnon

A funny warm and reassuring story for children to read or listen too.


Shapes and Colours by John Canty

Easy for young children to understand shapes and colours and be able to relate the colours to certain shapes. Example Red = Fire Truck. 


No! Never! By Libby Hathron & Lisa Hathron-Jarman

A little girl by the name of Georgie who learnt the words NO! NEVER! When the tables are turned by Georgie’s parents Georgie words come back to haunt her. 


Bin Chicken by Kate & Jol Temple & Ronojoy Ghosh

A clever story about the much loved Malighed White Ibis – commonly known as the Bin Chicken. A story about not caring what others think as long as you are happy. 


Respect by Aunty Fay Muir & Susan Lawson & Lisa Kennedy

A cultural Indigenous story about respecting the earth and each other. Nicely illustrated and nice use of colour. 


This Small Blue Dot by Zeno Sworder

A very well written and thought provoking about our planet and the way we treat it. 


Busy Beaks by Sarah Allen

A colourfully illustrated book featuring many of the wonderful birds we have in Australia. The book is fun and informative and both adults and children can learn while reading about our native feathered friends. 


Soon by Libby Gleeson & Jedda Robaard

A beautifully illustrated book about waiting for a new baby to arrive. 


We love you Magoo by Briony Stewart

For young children and easy rhyming book. Children who love dogs will love this book. 


Australia Under the Sea 1,2,3 by Frené Lessac

A fun counting book featuring many of the weird and wonderful creatures found under our waves.


Coming Home to Country by Bronwyn Bancroft

A colourfully illustrated book about going back to the places we call home and the connections we have to these places.


Loretta Brazendale

Information Services Coordinator
Burnie Library | Libraries Tasmania 

Friday 23 April 2021

Mann's Best Friend

Pets often star in children’s books, and this list of excellent titles are all about dogs. Thanks to Maureen Mann for this terrific range of picture books to explore and revisit.

This list could be hundreds of titles long, but I am going to focus on some of my favourites. But I’m not sure I’ll know when to stop

Walking Your Human by Liz Ledden and Gabriella Petrusa (2021)
This light-hearted look at the differences between what a dog and person thinks about what makes a good walk. People get distracted by nearly everything they see. Dogs think their humans need protecting and that they enjoy running and having their arms stretched. Young readers will love the various characters of dogs portrayed but adults will delight in the power that our four-legged family members have over us.

Heart and Soul by Carol Ann Martin and Tull Suwannakit (2020).
After Louis is rescued from the Dog’s Home, he and new owner Charlie Wintergreen share their love of the trumpet and the music which results. When Charlie becomes ill, he disappeared and Louis has to return to his life on the street until he met Pete, the busker. Together they make such great music that they are invited to play a Christmas concert at the Nursing Home where Louis and Charlie reunite. They end up as a threesome at their favourite busking spot in town.

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey (2014), and all the later Pig adventures. Pig is such a greedy dog and has to learn to share with Trevor the dachshund. Much of Blabey’s success comes from the very expressive facial expressions he creates for all his characters. 

My Friend Fred by Frances Watts (2019).
Fred the dachshund has to learn friendship, tolerance, and difference to become best friends with his feline companion and the story’s narrator. Great use of white space, an engaging text and endpapers which have obviously been part of the design process not just to hold the book together.

Three by Stephen Michael King (2019).
A wonderful story of a three-legged dog who isn’t fazed by his handicap and who finds new love, friendship and adventures in the countryside with his friend Fern. 

When Billy was a Dog by Kirsty Murray and Karen Blair (2019). Billy begs and begs to have a dog. He’ll look after it and do everything necessary. But when his dog doesn’t come to the house, Billy becomes the dog he wants, with frequent humorous results and responses. 

Becoming Ellie by Lyndon Riggall and Graeme Whittle (2019).
Ellie is given a name and identity when she is adopted after her career as a racing greyhound is ended by injury. The layout of the book reflects the chaotic shape of Ellie’s life and Whittle’s water-colour illustrations show his empathy to the dog.

The Ugliest Dog in the World (1992) and Little White Dogs Can’t Jump (2012) both by Bruce Whatley. 

The ugliest dog is a boxer but is he really ugly or is beauty in the eyes of the beholder? It would seem so. As a pug, or maybe a bulldog, Smudge’s legs are too short to get into the car and the family has to solve the problem. 

My Dog by John Heffernan and Andrew Mclean (2001). This powerful picture book for more mature readers looks at the devastation of war and ethnic cleansing.

Reggie Queen of the Street by Margaret Barbalet and Andrew McLean (2003). Reggie has everything worked out on her street until Helen and Doug decide to move to the country where Reggie is unhappy. She returns, alone, to the city where everything has changed so he travels back to her humans. There she learns to fit in with all locals.

And we mustn’t forget all the Spot and Hairy Maclary titles. I

 must stop but I have hardly tapped the wealth of stories about man’s best friend.

Which of your favourites have I missed?

Maureen Mann
Retired teacher librarian and avid reader

Saturday 17 April 2021

Island Stories

Kate Gordon has a story to tell and a host of Tasmanian authors and illustrators to celebrate. Won’t you join her?

We live on a small island, separated from the big island by a ferocious sea. We are island people – some of us new immigrants to this place, some of us living on land (always borrowed) lived on by generations of ancestors. Some of us own this land, and have ancestry that stretches back generations. 

We live on an island of story. We have words in our blood, poetry tying our muscles to our bones. We breathe in images and breathe out black smudges on white pages. We are this way from the time we are born.

Parents give the stories to children. Children grow up and do the same.

We are an island who love to read. We are an island whose children love books but who, because of circumstance, because of history, sometimes have trouble turning those smudges back into images.

Our literacy rates our low. Our love of story is as big as the blue sky above us.

We live on an island where writers and illustrators for children bloom like ferns and fagus.

These are some of the best of them – my heroes and my inspirations.

Anne Morgan, whose beautiful books – often on environmental themes – are pure poetry, and who works tirelessly for her children’s writing community, here and on the mainland.

Christina Booth, who is all heart – this is reflected in her astonishing books, which almost always feel like a big warm hug, no matter how sad or serious or sombre the subject matter. She is a writer and an artist, and the two knit perfectly together. Quite possibly our state’s finest illustrating talent.

Kathryn Lomer, whose gentle, heartfelt, poetic works for young adults have seen her become our most lauded and admired writer for this age range.

Jennifer Cossins, whose amazing illustrated books about animals have found international fame – featured on the Ellen show!

Carole Ann Martin, who has had recent success with her picture books, securing a deal with Scholastic. They are completely delightful.

“Angelica Banks” (Danielle Wood and Heather Rose), whose writing partnership – born of a deep friendship – had produced some deliciously quirky and inventive works.

Julie Hunt, who is a Jack of all trades and a master of them, too – she has written picture books, junior fiction, middle grade and graphic novels, and moves seamlessly from one to the other. In my opinion she is a hugely underrated literary icon of our state.

Lian Tanner, who is such a skilful writer she makes a book written from the perspective of a chicken one hundred percent believable, and who has a dedicated tribe of fans, waiting not-so-patiently for each new story she produces.

Ron Brooks, a literary legend, whose books have been delighting young audiences since before I was born!

Peter Gouldthorpe, whose first book came out the year after I was born, and who has worked with some of my forever loves in fiction. His illustrations on Hist! were seared into my brain as a kid, and his work just gets better and better.

Sally Odgers was a staple of my childhood reading life and I have been privileged to get to know her as a peer (what a strange world this is!). 

Lindsey Little is another writer I’ve come to know. Her books are perfect, funny delights.

Jodi McAlister is a hugely popular writer of inventive books for teens, taking the world by storm with her fierce intelligence and captivating characters.

Tansy Rayner Roberts has written for young adults, as well as her award-winning work for adults and is an internationally-recognised stalwart of speculative fiction.

Rachel Tribout illustrated two of my daughter’s favourite books, and the absolute highlight of my career has been having her bring the characters of my Direleafe Hall books to life with her masterful renderings – her beautiful covers are my favourites ever.

Look at that list! And that is only a handful of trees in our forest of writers – some saplings, some beautiful, venerable elders (who must be preserved at all costs!). Some of them have moved to our state and joined our community; others have moved away but will always be counted as one of us.

These are the writers who inspire me, who have made me. Many are internationally famous. 

And yet …

And yet …

Our small island – like the states on the Big Island – has a “Premier’s Prize” for literature.

Our island, unlike most mainland sectors, has no separate award for children’s literature.

No award for illustration.

Look at that list.

Look at our island – an island of stories whose children have literacy rates below the national average. An island where writers – even those as lauded as the ones above – will struggle to make a living wage from their craft.

Look at the year we’ve survived. See how it has burned us, bent our wills, broken some of us.

It’s been rough.

And yet, these creators continue to grow, to produce, to make our state proud. 

We fight – rightly so – for our native forests. We need to fight for our culture, too.

And it can be argued – should be argued – that culture for children is the most important of all. Traditionally, the work of the children’s author has been diminished – perceived as lesser than that produced by “serious” writers.

But look at the year our children have survived. Look at the world we are giving them.

They will need to fight for that world. They will need stories to carry them through, as stories have carried us through.

A tree can’t grow without sunlight, good soil, good rain.

We need to treat our writers like we treat our plants. They need to be given sustenance, to grow.

We live on a small island, separated from the big island by a ferocious sea.

There is no reason a small island should resign itself to being small in other ways.

We should be proud of the creators who live here. We should do all we can to help them to continue to grow, up and up to the stars.

Kate Gordon

Tasmanian YA and children’s author 

FB: https://www.facebook.com/kategordon.com.au 


Shortlisted for the 2021 CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Readers award with Aster’s Good, Right Things.