The Lamington Man, by Kel Richards & Glen Singleton

I’ve outrun Matilda’s kitchen cat,
At only half speed, I can do that.
So run, run as fast as you can.
You can’t catch me. I’m the lamington man.

When Matilda makes a little man out of lamington mix, she doesn’t expect him to run away. But that’s just what happens – the little man jumps off the tray and outruns first Matilda and then her cat, a dog, and the postman. But will he outrun the crocodile basking by the river?

The Lamington Man is an Australian take on the classic Gingerbread Man tale. Told in rhyming verse, by Kel Richards and illustrated with plenty of quirky humour by Glen Singleton, this is a fun addition to the Aussie Gems series from Scholastic.

Whether young readers are acquainted with the Ginger Bread story or not, they’ll enjoy this new version.

The Lamington Man (Aussie Gems)

The Lamington Man (Aussie Gems), by Kel Richards & Glen Singleton
Omnibus, 2009

Big Bad Bushranger, by Bob Brown

Oh, out in the bush where the kookaburras fly
Where the gum trees reach to the clear blue sky
There’s a cave in the hillside where I hide
I’m a big bad bush-bushranger.

Wombats aren’t known for their bushranging, but the main character of Big Bad Bushranger is a wombat, and a very successful one at that. He hides in a cave in the hillside but far from roughing it, this hillside cave is the entrance to an enormous treasure trove and luxurious cave system. Wombat revels in his job and his wealth, sharing it with a large group of Aussie animals. There’s his girlfriend, Gayle, other wombats and myriad other creatures. Ben Wood’s illustrations are in loose water colours and celebrate the sense of playacting embodied by the text. Even the victims set upon by this bad bushranger look like they’re part of the adventure.

Bushrangers were a well-documented part of Australia’s colonial history. Some were revered as champions for the underdog, while others were less heroes. Bob Brown’s bushranger falls into the former category, this ‘big, bad, bush-bushranger’ seems to be a good-natured fellow despite his deeds. All the characters are Australian animals, though they live in people houses in people towns, ride horses and travel in stage coaches. Wombat’s story is told in rhyme and there’s a music score at the front for performance. The text has an easy rhythm and listeners will soon be joining in with the refrain on each page of ‘I’m a big bad bush-bushranger’. Recommended for 5-7 year olds.

Big Bad Bushranger (Aussie Gems), Bob Brown ill Ben Wood
Omnibus Books 2009
ISBN: 9781862918016

Big Bad Bushranger (Aussie Gems)

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

this book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Goldilocks and the Three Koalas, by Kel Richards

Everyone called her ‘Goldilocks’,
although her name was Shirley,
because she had a mass of hair,
fluffy, blond and curly.

The story of Goldilocks has been given an Aussie flavour with koalas replacing bears. It’s also brought into the modern day with Goldilocks carrying her mobile phone. Her walk into the woods brings her to the house of the three koalas. They of course are out walking themselves, while their gumleaf porridge cools. Goldilocks rings the doorbell and calls out ‘G’day’. She’s a curious girl and after a suitable time, goes inside for a good look around. She’s fast asleep when the koalas return. She wakes with a fright and that’s when the mobile phone comes in handy. Illustrations are in loose watercolours and portray a particularly Australian countryside with Hills Hoist, bull nose verandahs, kangaroos and plenty of gum trees. There’s even a koala gnome in the front yard of the koalas’ home!

Goldilocks and the Three Koalas is a new title in the ‘Aussie Gems’ series from Omnibus. The series is recognisable by its square shape, bright colours, sheep and sheep dogs on the cover. The cover illustration is framed by the title. Here, Goldilocks is a modern girl, venturing out with her mobile phone. The koalas are as surprised as any bears to find evidence of their curious visitor. Goldilocks and the Three Koalas is told in four-line verses. Readers will enjoy looking for little extras in the illustrations, like animals and ants and the things that hide down the back of chairs. Recommended for 5-7 year olds.

Goldilocks and the Three Koalas (Aussie Gems), Kel Richards ill Claire Richards
Omnibus Books 2009
ISBN: 9781741692310

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Also in the Series
Redback on the toilet Seat, by Slim Newton
Click Go The Shears
The Three Little Bush Pigs, by Paul Dallimore

Cindy-Ella, by Tom Champion & Glen Singleton

Cindy-Ella is a hardworking outback girl. Every day her stepmother and her stepsisters, Rochelle and Sheryle, keep her busy cleaning the dunny, feeding the budgies and cooking the meet-pies for tea. When an invitation arrives for the Gundaroo Sheep Shearers Ball, Cindy-Ella is told there’s no way she can go. But after the others have left, Cindy-Ella’s Fairy Godnanna arrives. With a few waves of her wattle branch, she has Cindy ready for the ball.

This delightful picture book is an Australian version of the Cinderella fairytale. With plenty of Aussie icons, including the wattle, blue thongs and a red kangaroo, this cute version is undoubtedly Aussie and is brought to life in humorous illustrations by Glen Singleton. Part of the Aussie Gems series, this hard cover offering, with cute flocked-sheep embellishments will be enjoyed by young Aussies.

Cindy-Ella: An Aussie Cinderella (Aussie Gems)

Cindy-Ella, by Tom Champion, illustrated by Glen Singleton
Scholastic, 2008

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Click Go the Shears, illustrated by Charlotte Lance

Click go the shears boys, click, click, click!
Wide is his blow and his hands move quick.
The ringer looks around and is beaten by a blow,
and curses the old snagger with the bare-bellied yeo.

This classic Australian folktale has been known and loved by generations of Australians, and has now been brought to life for a new generation through this hardcover picture book offering with illustrations by new illustrator Charlotte Lance.

Part of the Aussie Gem series, the book features shearers in multi-coloured singlets and shorts, and funky sheep with wild outfits and hairstyles. Like other books in the series, Click Go the Shears is a hard cover book with flocked sheep adding a tactile element to the cover.

A wonderful way to bring an old song into the new millennium.

Click Go the Shears (Aussie Gems)

Click Go the Shears, illustrated by Charlotte Lance
Omnibus, 2008

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Redback on the Toilet Seat, by Slim Newton, ill by Craig Smith

There was a redback on the toilet seat
When I was there last night,
I didn’t see him in the dark, But boy I felt his bite!

This song was written by West Australian singer/songwriter Slim Newton in the 1970s and has been popular ever since. Now it has been brought to life in picture book format with the humorous illustration work of Craig Smith, one of Australia’s foremost children’s book illustrators.

Part of the Aussie Gems series from Omnibus, Smith’s interpretation of the song lyrics add to the humour, with the story acted out by a pair of cane toads (the victim of the spider bite, and his wife), and a cast of native Australian animals including crocodiles, kangaroos and possums. With the growing concern in Australia at the spread of the feral cane toad, an adult reader might see the additional humour in the redback getting revenge on the intruder, whilst child readers will enjoy spotting the different animals.

Like other titles in the series, Redback on the Toilet Seat is a square hardcover offering, with flocked sheep on the cover adding a touch and feel element which kids of all ages will enjoy.

A great Aussie offering.

The Redback on the Toilet Seat

Aussie Gems: Redback on the Toilet Seat, by Slim Newton and Craig Smith
Omnibus, 2008

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond . Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Give Me A Home Among The Gum Trees, Bob Brown & Wally Johnson, illustrated by Ben Wood

ohn Williamson sang it, and Don Burke’s television series ‘Burke’s Backyard’ used it as the theme song. In this almost-square hard cover book the familiar song/rhyme is illustrated by newcomer, Ben Wood. Circles on the front cover and inside the back cover suggest a CD, but there isn’t one. In the illustrations, the reader shares in the homecoming of koala and sugar glider as they disembark the plane after their overseas trip. Snaps show where they’ve been, and an old ute conveys them and their gifts for the final leg of their trip home. Their welcome is riotous and wild, calming to a final spread showing possum accompanying a final chorus.

This new ‘Aussie Gem’ series from South Australia’s Omnibus books includes well-known songs and some old stories given an new Aussie twist. Give Me A Home Among The Gum Trees uses two of the four verses and the chorus as a backdrop for a story told entirely in the illustrations. Ben Wood’s delightful watercolour images are full of life, making it very easy to ‘hear’ the bush cacophony suggested. There is a cheerful magpie to find on every page, and myriad other Australian animals to discover. Young pre-readers will be able to follow the narrative without knowing the words. Older readers will enjoy learning this iconic Australian song. There are ‘flock’ sheep on the front cover, just begging to be stroked. Recommended for pre- and early-primary children.

Give Me A Home Among The Gum Trees, Bob Brown & Wally Johnson, Illustrator Ben Wood
Omnibus Books 2008 ISBN: 9781862917651