Here are ten of our favourite beautiful, funny, imaginative picture books for young kids, featuring animals from “our place”.
Diary of a Wombat – Jackie French’s stories about life with her adopted wombat, Mothball, are bestsellers. Beginning with Diary of a Wombat, they’re all classically charming and full of humour, and Bruce Whatley’s illustrations are completely gorgeous. You can read Better Reading’s interview with Jackie French here.
Possum Magic – This story of Grandma Poss and Hush and their journey around Australia is one of the best-loved and most charming imaginative tales featuring Australian animals, ever. Originally, though, Mem Fox conceived it as a story about mice! Her Publisher asked her to rewrite her original manuscript, making it even more ‘Australian’ than it was and changing the mice to a cuddly Australian animal.
One Woolly Wombat – Count to 14 with a series of animals doing extraordinary things: kangaroos dancing, koalas sipping tea with lamingtons, kookaburras writing with fountain pens… Illustrator Kerry Argent worked on this classic bestseller while she was still in art school! She also illustrated three other books on this list, and was the Art Director at Omnibus Books for many years. So we have to credit her with fostering our love of Australian animal picture books more than any other individual!
Edward the Emu – Edward’s bored of being an emu and decides to try being something else. The upbeat rhyming text and very funny illustrations in this book are absolute winners. Just thinking about it makes us smile.
Wombat Divine – Kangaroos and koalas might be the most recognised Australian animals, but wombats seem to have it when it comes to kids’ books! Here’s another gorgeous wombat story, this time with a Christmas theme: which part in the nativity play is just perfect for a sleepy wombat?
Koala Lou – With highly detailed koala and bush illustrations by Pamela Lofts, this is a universal story of a child feeling left out, trying to prove herself and gain attention, and finding in the end that love is unconditional.
Wombat Went a Walking – One of a popular series of picture books featuring Lachlan Creagh’s illustrations of wombat and a whole gang of other Australian animals, most of which are set to the tune of popular songs (this one is based on ‘Frog Went a Courting’). Kids just seem to gravitate to Creagh’s illustrations!
Ruby Roars! – Enormous fun to read (and roar) aloud, this picture book turns Tassie devils into appealing, family characters. Little Ruby wants to be scary, but none of the noises she makes frighten her friends. Ruby’s determined though … with very satisfying results.
Wombat Stew – This picture book has delightful illustrations, a theme of friendship, and fabulous suspense to engage young readers. A very clever dingo catches a wombat and decides to make yummy wombat stew. Each of wombat’s friends suggests an ingredient to add to the stew (mud, feathers, flies, gumnuts …). Will they ultimately trick dingo into letting wombat go?
Hop Up, Wriggle Over! – This one is quite new, and features a very unusual – and boisterous – family of nine different little Australian animals going about their daily activities and making lots of noise! The text is made up of single exclamations and action phrases, while the lovely illustrations tell us all about what the little animals are doing.
Which books would you add to this list? Please tell us in comments below. And if you like this list, please consider sharing it using the social buttons.