We’re celebrating Australian authors at Better Reading and Better Reading Kids, and our thoughts have turned to some of our favourite Australian animal stories for kids.
Here’s Part One of our list: classic, and more recent, tales about Australian animals changing people’s lives.
Which books would you add to this list?
Dot and the Kangaroo – Five-year-old Dot is lost in the bush near her home when a red kangaroo approaches her and offers her some berries to eat. The berries enable her to understand the language of the animals. Written in 1899, this story about conservation and kindness has stood the test of time. Several of our team remember Dot and the Kangaroo with huge affection. One of us has a treasured hardcover edition which has been passed down through generations in her family. Another remembers a special outing with her grandma to see the film when it was released.
Storm Boy – Heartwarming and atmospheric, Storm Boy was also a childhood favourite of several members of our team. Storm Boy and his father live alone on the South Australian coast. When Storm Boy finds three orphaned pelicans, he nurses them back to health and releases them. His favourite, Mr Percival, returns and they become inseparable. But pressures from the outside world intrude …
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 Goes to School – In this picture book, Melanie Carter (author of Possum in the House) tells the story of a possum who finds his way into a cupboard in the classroom, to the dismay of the teachers and the delight of the children. (Teachers out there might be inspired by the wonderful review posted by a customer of Booktopia, in which she explains how she shares this book with her class.)
My Girragundji – This is a witty and life-affirming story about an aboriginal boy growing up between two worlds, who is inspired and protected by a little green tree frog.
Juliet Nearly a Vet: Bush Baby Rescue and Lulu Bell and the Fairy Penguin – Finally, if the child in your life loves caring for animals, or aspires to be a vet, these series for young readers – each of which feature a young girl helping out in a parent’s vet surgery – might appeal. Bush Baby Rescue sees Juliet caring for animals injured in a bushfire. And in Lulu Bell and the Fairy Penguin, Lulu has to help a little penguin that’s been chased by a dog on the beach.
(Look out for Part Two of our list – stories featuring animal characters, from Blinky Bill to Wombat Went a Walking – coming soon!)