Australia’s unique animals are a favourite subject for children’s writers. Two enduring classics have possums as their central characters.
In Possum Magic, by Mem Fox, we meet Grandma Poss, who is no ordinary possum – she makes bush magic. Blue wombats, smiling dings amd shrinking emus are all in her repertoire. But her best piece of magic makes young Hush invisible. This is all very well until one day Hush decides she would like to see what she looks like.
Grandma Poss and Hush embark on an adventure to find the right magic to make Hush visible again. Along the way they sample all the best of Australian foods – but will they find the answer to Hush’s problem?
Possum Magic was Fox’s first published work, making its debut in 1983, but is still delighting both youngsters and their parents. The tale is perfectly accomplished by gorgeous illustrations by the talented Julie Vivas.
In Possum in the House by Kiersten Jensen, no one is happy when a possum gets in – in the pantry he spills the cornflakes, in the laundry he rips the shirts, and in the lounge he scratches the records. Will Mum and Dad ever catch him?
This gorgeous story is sure to be a favourite with both children and parents because of its flowing, up-beat rhythm and cute ending. The detailed illustrations by Tony Oliver make a perfect complement to the text.
Both of these books will make excellent additions to your child’s book collection.
Possum Magic, by Mem Fox
Omnibus Books, 1983.
Possum in the house by Kiersten Jensen
Childerset Books, 1986.
Rarely is a picture book written which will have the adult reader laughing aloud at its humour. Ca-a-r Ca-a-a-a-r, by Geoff Havel is, fortunately, one such uniquely funny offering, which will be loved by both parents and children for its simple wit.
The premise of the book is simple – a group of animals share their reactions to an accident they witness. But this is not another talking animals story. Instead, Havel cleverly uses the animals’ sounds to tell the story. So, the skidding of the car is echoed by the parrot’s “Screech!” and the arrival of the ambulance heralded by the donkey’s “Eeyore, eeyore.” The bright and comical illustrations of Peter Kendall make a gorgeous complement to Havel’s text.
This is a book which will be read and enjoyed many times, with children quickly learning to ‘help’ the reader out with the animal sounds and even the narration. A must-have classic.
Ca-a-r Ca-a-a-a-r, by Geoff Havel
Published by Sandcastle Books, Fremantle Arts Centre Press children’s book imprint (1996).
Every night one thousand cats watch the moon ride over their heads. One small cat called Cat Balloon longs to fly with the moon, but the other cats tell him sternly: “Cats can’t fly.”
Cat Balloon doesn’t care what they say – he is determined to find a way and so sets off on a journey to search for the secret of the full moon. That night, nine hundred and ninety-nine cats see an amazing sight.
Cat Balloon, by Palo Morgan, is a delightful story in verse suitable for three to seven year olds. Not only will children love the story, they will be fascinated by Morgan’s beautiful illustrations. From plain moggies to stately lions, the one thousand cats will captivate young animal lovers and the luminous moon seems to sine out of the page.
The book is available with or without a CD of music from the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s stage adaptation.
Cat Balloon, by Palo Morgan
Published by Sandcastle Books (Fremantle Arts Centre Press Children’s Book Imprint), 1992.
Fishing in tidepools is fun, but watch out – if you take a little fish home for a pet, you may get more than you bargained for.
A Fisherman’s Tale, by Keith Faulkner and Jonathon Lambert, is a delightful lift the flap book which kids will love and parents enjoy reading.
The story is a little reminiscent of another old favourite, Seuss’s The Boy Who Fed His Fish Too Much, but this does not detract from the book. Kids love lifting and unfolding flaps and pages as they see the fish grow bigger and bigger and bigger, and the final flap with its satisfying ending.
A Fisherman’s Tale, published by Australian publisher, Koala Books is suitable for one to six year olds.
A Fisherman’s Tale, by Keith Faulkner and Jonathan Lambert
Published by Koala Books, Sydney, 1994