Grug ambled into our lives in 1979 and has been a perennial Australian and international favourite for over 40 years. Grug has had over 33 of his different adventures turned into books, all delicately illustrated and perfectly imagined by Australian author/illustrator Ted Prior.
Grug began his life as the top of a native Australian burrawang tree – an adorable mop of a creature, described by some unkind people as “a haystack with a face”. He’s a true-blue dinky-di Aussie hero.
Grug wins our hearts because of his childlike curiosity about the world around him. He is always discovering new things and how the world works, very much like our littlest readers. He shares their egocentric traits as well.
Grug has experienced a lot of things that young children face in their young lives – going to the playground, learning to swim, having a birthday party, catching a fish, visiting the beach, going to school, riding a bike, playing soccer. Everlasting favourites are Grug and the Rainbow, and Grug Learns to Dance. The topics of the stories are all very relatable for 2 to 5-year olds.
Grug and the Bushfire is the first new Grug since 2016 and was written in response to the recent devastating bushfire season. Author Ted Prior lives on a 200-acre rural property which was severely damaged by the bushfires. The RFS managed to save his home, workshop and studio but the surrounding forest was destroyed. When he was cleaning up he was reflecting on the native animals that perished and realised Grug would have survived because he lives underground. These thoughts inspired this new book.
It’s a sensitive topic because we know that many children have been traumatised due to their experiences last summer. Whole school communities needed special support and counselling, and the anxiety will be rising again as children hear talk of bushfire preparation, see the RFS doing hazard reduction burns, and experience the sounds and smells of bushfire season.
This book gives a positive message of hope and resilience and emphasises sharing resources and caring for each other. For example, finding new homes for those without, watching the forest regrow, preparing for the fire season and rebuilding. It could be an excellent conversation-starter to help children talk about their concerns. It is also a beautiful bit of Australiana to post overseas to grandchildren or other little ones with an Australian connection. The image of animals sharing Grug’s home while the fire passes overhead reflects reports of unlikely animals sheltering underground together.
A portion of the proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.