Books About Australia to Accompany Little Passports Kit
If you have been following this blog for awhile, you know that I have been doing a monthly series of posts to accompany the Little Passports subscription kits. As we have progressed through the kits, we have been going into more and more detail about each country. Consequently, my posts about each country have been getting longer and longer. I finally decided that they are just too long, so I am going to start breaking them up into multiple posts. I will start with my lists of picture books about each country, so that you can reserve the books from your library ahead of time, if you want. The first country I am trying this with is Australia. So, here is the list of picture books about Australia that we used for our unit study about Australia in our homeschool.
An Aussie Year: Twelve months in the life of Australian kids – Meet Ned, Lily, Zoe, Kirra and Matilda — Australian children representing a multicultural blend of culture and race that typifies our beautiful country. They are taking you through a year in the life of Australian kids, from celebrations to traditions to events, to our everyday way of life. They are Australia. ‘An Aussie Year’ is a picture book bursting with national pride. It is a snapshot of who we are as a nation, and covers our modern day culture, lifestyle and traditions. Its pages feature trailing, meandering text, dates and gorgeous illustrations showing our five Aussie children at play, at school, at home, and enjoying their parts of Australia — from the tropical north out to our rugged west and beautiful Tassie.
Banjo and Ruby Red – Banjo is a hardworking farm dog and Ruby Red is a haughty chicken, and they never see eye to eye. But when Ruby Red falls ill, the tables seem about to turn. Stunning illustrations perfectly capture the endearing personalities of boisterous Banjo and headstrong Ruby Red.
Big Rain Coming – As one dry day follows another in the Australian outback, everyone and everything is waiting for the rain, which seems as though it will never come. Rosie’s kids, the panting dogs, the fat green frogs, and Old Stephen all do what they can to keep cool as they watch for storm clouds on the horizon. Stunningly beautiful full-color artwork and spare text evoke the long wait during the dry season, and the jubilant relief when the long-promised rain finally arrives. Any child can identify with the theme of how hard it is to wait for something you want, and the outsize, brilliantly colored, stylized illustrations—which feature imagery from Aboriginal mythology—make this an especially striking picture book that will captivate and delight young readers.
Colours of Australia – Deep love of Australia inspires Bronwyn Bancroft’s poetry and the richly layered hues of Colours of Australia. Each line speaks a different voice, each image stirs a different mood, and all combine to evoke the miracle of color with which we are surrounded.
D is for Down Under: An Australia Alphabet – What country holds the title as the world’s smallest continent and yet the world’s largest island? I stands for island, but one that’s not too small. Our island is enormous. Just try to see it all! There’s no place else quite like it; that is clearly true. Australia is a continent, but it’s an island, too. Originally founded as a penal colony, Australia has long been known for its contrasts (think: wild outback and sophisticated Sydney Opera House). Accompanied by vibrant colorful artwork, D is for Down Under: An Australia Alphabet captures the spirit of this proud country and its many treasures, natural and man-made. Visit spectacular Sydney Harbor, try your hand as a jackaroo working a sheep station, or just sit back and enjoy a Vegemite sandwich. Below the starry night glitter of the Southern Cross constellation, Australia’s “down under” wonders shine brightly.
Diary of a Wombat – Wombats are cuddly-looking, slow-moving Australian animals. Their favorite activities are eating, sleeping, and digging holes. Here, in the words of one unusually articulate wombat, is the tongue-in-cheek account of a busy week; eating, sleeping, digging holes . . . and training its new neighbors, a family of humans, to produce treats on demand. This entertaining book, with its brief, humorous text and hilarious illustrations, will endear the wombat to young children, who may recognize in the determined furry creature some qualities that they share.
Edward the Emu – Edward is tired of being an emu, so he decides to try being something else for a change. First he spends some time swimming with the seals. Next, he lounges with the lions. He even slithers with the snakes. But Edward soon discovers that being an emu may not be so bad after all. So he heads back to his pen, only to find a big surprise awaiting him . .
Josephine Wants to Dance – Josephine loves to dance. She dreams of wearing a pink tutu and silk ballet shoes. But everyone reminds her that kangaroos don’t dance—they hop! Kangaroos don’t wear tutus, and they never wear ballet shoes! So Josephine sneaks into town, where the ballet rehearses, and watches for hours as the dancers spin and swirl and pirouette and curtsy. But on the day of the ballet performance, the prima ballerina twists her ankle and a new dancer is needed for the lead role, a dancer who can jump higher than all the rest. Will Josephine be able to make her dream of becoming a ballerina come true?
Koala Lou – When Koala Lou’s mother becomes so busy that she forgets to tell her firstborn how much she loves her, Koala Lou enters the Bush Olympics, intending to win an event and her mother’s love all at one time.
Mad Magpie – Inspired by wise sayings and the knowledge of the Elders, Mad Magpie tells the story of Guluu, an angry magpie who is being teased by a gang of butcher birds. The more he is teased, the angrier he becomes. When Guluu seeks advice, his Elders tell him to stay calm. Guluu tries this, but the cheeky birds just laugh at him. One day, when Guluu is at the river looking for worms, the butcher birds arrive and steal his food. He remembers the words of his Elders and he tries again—and this time Guluu has a different outcome.
Maralinga: The Anangu Story – From the earliest beginnings of the Anangu people to the destructive aftermath of secret nuclear testing, this story takes young readers on a journey through the Maralinga Tjarutja lands of South Australia. An extraordinary illustrated history told from the Indigenous perspective, this book invites children to discover what happened in the Maralinga before the bombs and after.
Marsupial Sue – Young Sue really doesn’t like being a kangaroo, so she goes off to find something better. First she tries climbing the trees like a koala, but that doesn’t work. Then she wades into the sea like a platypus, but that’s no good either. Finally, Sue joins up with some bouncy, jouncy wallabies…and discovers that being a kangaroo isn’t so bad, after all.
Mirror – Somewhere in Sydney, Australia, a boy and his family wake up, eat breakfast, and head out for a busy day of shopping. Meanwhile, in a small village in Morocco, a boy and his family go through their own morning routines and set out to a bustling market. In this ingenious, wordless picture book, readers are invited to compare, page by page, the activities and surroundings of children in two different cultures. Their lives may at first seem quite unalike, but a closer look reveals that there are many things, some unexpected, that connect them as well. Designed to be read side by side — one from the left and the other from the right —these intriguing stories are told entirely through richly detailed collage illustrations.
The Outback – Annaliese Porter was only eight years old when she wrote The Outback. She has captured the Australian outback in all its moods in this moving bush ballad about the country’s vast interior. The Outback, illustrated by respected Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft, depicts recognisable Australian landscapes and animals such as Uluru, dingoes, cockatoos, snakes and goannas.
Over in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under – In the Down Under continent, baby wallabies learn to hop, brolgas learn to dance, and emus learn to zig-zag and children will want to hop, dance, and zig-zag right along with the amazing animals of Australia. As with all of Marianne Berkes award-winning Over books, children will also want to sing, clap and count to the rhyme of Over in the Meadow as they learn about wallabies, koalas, wombats, and more. What an easy, fun way to learn about these endearing, unique Australian animals!
Patterns of Australia – Each richly patterned landscape contains animals, birds, plants, and flowers particular to that landscape hidden within it, accompanied by text evoking the place and listing the things to find. The book is designed to give children—and adults—an opportunity to see the the environment around them in a new way, as they discover that there is so much more to see if we know how to look.
A Platypus, Probably – What has a bill like a duck’s and the body of a beaver? A platypus, probably. Engaging text follows a female platypus through her life, while sidebars offer in-depth information about this unique monotreme and her environment. Vivid, accurate illustrations capture the wonder of this amazing creature.
Possum Magic – Grandma Poss uses her best bush magic to make Hush invisible. But when Hush longs to be able to see herself again, the two possums must make their way across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible once more. “Another treat from Mem Fox that is sure to be treasured.
Stories from the Billabong – From the author of Walkabout come ten of Australia’s ancient aboriginal legends, authentically and elegantly retold. Here you can discover how Great Mother Snake created and peopled the world with plants and creatures, what makes Frogs croak, why Kangaroo has a pouch, and just what it is that makes Platypus so special. The illustrations are by the aboriginal artist and storyteller Francis Firebrace, whose distinctive, colourful work is known throughout Australia and beyond.
This is Australia – Like the other Sasek classics, this is a facsimile editions of his original books. The brilliant, vibrant illustrations have been meticulously preserved, remaining true to his vision more than forty years later and, where applicable, facts have been updated for the twenty-first century, appearing on a “This is . . . Today” page at the back of each book. The stylish, charming illustrations, coupled with Sasek’s witty, playful narrative, make these books a perfect souvenir that will delight both children and their parents, many of whom will remember them from their own childhood. In This is Australia, first published in 1970, Sasek swings down under, winging his readers into Sydney, with its famous bridge and space-age Opera House; bustling, modern Melbourne; colonial Adelaide; semitropical Brisbane; the garden city of Canberra; mineral-rich Perth; and Alice Springs, Australia’s most famous outback town.
Why I Love Australia – In this magnificent celebration of country, Bronwyn Bancroft uses both images and words to explore the beauty of the Australian continent and to express the depth of her feelings about it. It is a unique showcase of reverence for landscape—from the coast and the outback to the cities and plains, and from barren deserts to lush rain forests, Australia is undoubtedly a place of unrivaled beauty that is captured perfectly in this book.
Why Koala Has a Stumpy Tail – Why Koala Has a Stumpy Tail is an Australian folktale about two friends, Tree Kangaroo and Koala. Long ago they were very close, but their friendship soured after the events that transpired during a long drought in Australia. Tree Kangaroo was a hard worker and resourceful while Koala was lazy and selfish. Tree Kangaroo had the idea of digging a hole for water in a dry streambed. Tree Kangaroo started to dig, but Koala kept making excuses about why he couldn’t help dig the hole. Finally, Tree Kangaroo ends up digging the entire hole and when he finally finds water, Koala jumps in a drinks all of it. Emblazoned with anger at Koala’s selfish acts, Tree Kangaroo grabs Koala by his long, furry tail and pulls so hard that it breaks off at the base. Now Koala is left with a short, stumpy tail.
Wombat Dreaming – Come fly with Henry and Max in this delightful children’s story, Wombat Dreaming, which captivates all who read it. No one can deny the appeal of the book’s hero, Henry, the determined little Wombat who wants to fly. Although all the other bush animals say it is impossible, Henry won’t give up! Wombat dreaming is a story of friendship, determination and flight! It is brought to life with colourful and striking illustrations.
Wombat Walkabout – Early one morning when the sun came out, Six woolly wombats went walkabout. This whimsical counting poem follows six brave little wombats on walkabout in the Australian outback. But the wilderness is bound to bring more excitement than an innocent counting game. Soon enough, the curious wombats learn to beware the hungry dingo! Caldecott Medal-winner Sophie Blackall’s delicious illustrations set the adorable wombats in a lush world of golden wattles, billabongs, kookaburras, and gum nuts. With marvelous wordplay and irresistible read-aloud phrases, this ingenious text from Carol Diggory Shields is sure to become a well-worn favorite. Accompanied by a short, simple glossary of Australian terms and wildlife.
Turning Things Over to You
Did I miss any of your favorite books about Australia? If I did, please let us know about the book in the comments below.