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

Friday 26 November 2021

Reflecting Reality

One in five Australians live with a disability. The United Nations International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), held on 3 December each year, aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. 

Australian books published in 2021 that are helping to achieve that aim include:

Cuckoo’s Flight by Wendy Orr, Allen & Unwin  (9+) 

Clio, the crippled granddaughter of Leira, the community wise woman, is highly likely to be chosen by the Lady as a blood sacrifice to ward off raiders that are approaching their village.  Orr’s earlier novels, Dragonfly Song and Swallow's Dance, also feature girls living with disabilities.

The Curiosities by Zana Fraillon & Phil Lesnie,  Lothian Children’s Books (picture book 6+)

Miro wakes one morning to find the world isn't quite the way he thought it was. When the Curiosities choose Miro as the one they nest on, Miro is led to discover all the marvels waiting in the shadows where no-one else looks. An allegory representing a neurodiverse experience.

Growing Up Disabled in Australia edited by Carly Finlay,  Black Inc Books  (YA+)

Forty writers with disability or chronic illness share their stories to present first-person experiences of people from a range of marginalised groups.
ARTS Hub Podcast: Carly Findlay on centring disability

100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze by Clayton Zane Comber, HarperCollins (YA)

Xander’s beloved Nanna asks him to create a list of 100 Remarkable Feats, ‘simply...list any act, small or large, that was remarkable for me [Xander] and would change my life for the better’. Xander is anxious, probably autistic, bullied at school and has no friends. Achieving even a few of the feats seems unlikely.

Paws by Kate Foster, Walker (9+) 

Eleven year old Alex’s best friend is Kevin the cockapoo, although what Alex wants most of all is a friend at school. As Alex is autistic, that is harder than he ever expected.

Skin Deep by Hayley Lawrence,  Scholastic (YA)

Beautiful Scarlett, permanently disfigured after a car fire, escapes to a mountain where her view on perfection is challenged by  new friend and his non-verbal autistic sister. 

Weekend with Oscar by Robyn Bavati, Walker (YA)

Oscar, Jamie’s younger brother, who has Downs Syndrome, leads a full life mainly due to the efforts of Mum. When Mum is suddenly called away and then doesn’t return, Jamie rises to the challenge  getting Oscar to his activities and appointments. 

IBBY Australia submits books for inclusion in the IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities list

Discover further examples in the following video with Carly Findlay sharing a range of texts for different ages.

Moreland City Libraries. (2020, December 4).
Carly Findlay-Growing Up Disabled in Australia

Nella Pickup

Retired librarian, member of CBCA Tasmania & IBBY Australia 

Friday 19 November 2021

“Nothing about us, without us” Decolonising Your Library

A snapshot of some important considerations in assessing the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander literature in the library collection.

I recently attended a webinar hosted by the Australian School Library Association and delivered by Sharon Davis and Bianca Brim from  Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) on decolonising the library. This webinar covered many aspects of decolonising libraries, but my focus is on literature  that is respectful and authentic of indigenous culture.

The key factors of identifying appropriate literature are: 

By Us: A title that is developed by Aboriginal people.
Bruce Pascoe, Sally Morgan, Nakkiah Lui, Oodgeroo Noonuccal (Kath Walker) are creators whose works cover a diversity of genres: poetry, plays, history, non fiction and picture books. One particular favourite of mine is Going for Kalta by Yvonne Edwards, Brenda Day and Tjitji Tjuta (all the kids)

With Us: A title that is developed in respectful partnership with Aboriginal people.
Examples include The Story of Our Mob by Sally Dingo (spouse of actor Ernie Dingo) and the collaboration between Boori Monty Prior and Meme McDonald which produced my favourites: Maybe Tomorrow and My Girragundji.

For Us: A title that is developed on behalf of Aboriginal people(s).
I have been unable to locate titles that fit this category of appropriate literature…which I find to be positive. 

Books that are About Us and/or Against Us, where there has been no Aboriginal input and/or which present deficit views of Aboriginal peoples.

Indigenous publications should: be authentic; be a balanced perspective; have Aboriginal participation; be accurate and supportive of Aboriginal culture and exclude content of secret or sacred nature.

Some takeaway ideas: 

  • That any text that use inappropriate words such as ‘aborigines’, ‘those’, ‘their’, ‘them’ or describe the concept of ‘terra nullis’ are red flags to acceptability. 
  • That texts should not over-represent the role of the male in cultural practices.
  • AIATSIS are publishing a catalogue of appropriate indigenous resources. They are also happy to receive donations of inappropriate resources for their archive.
  • The NCACL (National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature) Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Resource catalogue should be used with caution as it includes resources that don’t fit the above criteria for appropriate literature.

Sites to visit for further information and support:

Felicity Sly is a Teacher Librarian at Don College in Devonport, and Treasurer for CBCA Tasmania.

Editor's comment:  The NCACL have provided a statement in regard to the rigorous processes taken to evaluate and select resources for inclusion in the Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Resource catalogue. 


The National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature Inc (the ‘Centre’) received a grant in 2020 from the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment to create a database of Australian children’s books by and about Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The Agreement signed with the Government required the Centre to incorporate the views of Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Their views were incorporated through their:

  • membership on the Reference Group leading the project
  • appointment as ‘Critical Friends’ who advised on books to include/exclude, Australian curriculum, cultural sensitivity, appropriate terminology and historical perspective
  • appointment as Contributors who selected, read, annotated, choose subjects and teaching resources for the books.


Dr Belle Alderman AM

Emeritus Professor of Children’s Literature

Director, National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature Inc

Friday 5 November 2021

New release: Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths

Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths
Julie Murphy & Ben Clifford

Ben Clifford, Tasmanian illustrator, provides insights into his investigations of this tiny marsupial and the research undertaken to capture and enthral young readers through rich and detailed art work to illustrate Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moths.

Published by CSIRO Publishing, Julie Murphy's story of the life cycle of the Mountain Pygmy Possum depicts a non-fiction tale of the good and troubled life this tiny creature deals with.


Until 1966 The Mountain Pygmy Possum was thought to be extinct. This tiny survivor lives high up in the harsh cold Australian alps building its nest, raising its young, feeding on seeds, bugs and berries. But most importantly its diet requires the scrumptiously crunchy and fattening Bogong Moth.

© Ben Clifford & CSIRO. Internal pages from Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moth 

As well as hunted by foxes, feral cats and predators in the air, it also has another killer to contend with. Perhaps the most dangerous of all. Humans. For the Mountain Pygmy Possum to survive hibernation the Bogong moth is a major food source that humans are removing. However, probably like you, I do not delight in feeding on the moth at my local restaurant with chips and salad or sprinkling them on my oats. But I do like being able to see at night. Whether it's on the porch, working outside or leaving the light on for a visitor to arrive. Unfortunately these moths prefer those lights instead of their regular homes in the mountains where the Pygmy Possum is waiting to have a moth (or two) for dinner. But without this Bogong Moth, surviving the winter for the Pygmy is highly unlikely.

© Ben Clifford & CSIRO. Internal pages from Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moth

The plants, fauna, landscapes and rock texture were a great match for me to illustrate. Billy buttons, alpine mint bush, yellow anemones and the twisted snow gums all have their place among the boulder fields. As we follow the Pygmy's cycle, the flowers and fauna are on display for the relevant time of year. I've researched for other titles I've illustrated so this was another learning experience. It adds to the fun of putting a book together.

© Ben Clifford& CSIRO. Internal pages from Tiny Possum and the Migrating Moth

The 32 pages finish with an overview about the Pygmy Possum with diagrams and further information on how to contribute to keeping this little creature from extinction.

Many thanks to Julie Murphy and all those at the CSIRO.  

Ben Clifford


W: Ben Clifford Art http://www.benclifford.com.au/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/ben.clifford.art/ 

CSIRO: Teacher Notes available