George the Bilby Chef and the Raspberry Muffin Surprise, by Jedda Robaard

George was so happy that he started to sing one of his made up songs:
‘Raspberry, raspberry, red and sweet,
How very lovely you are to eat!’

George the Bilby loves to cook, so when his friend Betty Echidna’s birthday arrives, George wants to make her something special: Raspberry Muffins. But he needs some help from his friends to find the raspberries, pick them and get them home. Finally he can bake the muffins ready for the party.

George the Bilby Chef and the Raspberry Muffin Surprise is the first in a new series from author-illustrator Jedda Robaard. With a cast of Aussie animals rendered in sweet pastel tones, and a collectible recipe card for the muffins which George bakes in the book, as well as gentle message about cooperation and sharing, this hard cover offering will be loved kids and parents.

George the Bilby Chef and the Raspberry Muffin Surprise, by Jedda Robaard
Five Mile Press, 2016
ISBN 9781760067113

Hop up! Wriggle over! by Elizabeth Honey

Hop up, wiggle over, wakey wakey, HUNGRY!
Crunch crunch, gobble gobble, lick lick, MORE!

So begins this beautiful little movement and sound filled offering for early childhood audiences. This unconventional animal family – Mum is a koala, Dad a big red kangaroo, and the nine children include a wombat, an echidna, a bilby and more – move through the day joyfully, from wake up till bedtime.

The text is minimal – just four words or phrases per spread, being the sounds the animals mutter (sploosh! boing…boing) or the occasional word such as yum yum! and a joyful Dad-dee! when Dad arrives at the park where the children are playing. Illustrations, in watercolour with pencil outlines are pastel-toned colours of the Australian bush, with white backgrounds and lots of fun detail for youngsters to discover. Movement is depicted with a few well placed lines, and the joy of the family is evident in their faces.

A joyful celebration of families and of Aussie animals.

Hop Up! Wriggle Over!, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743319987

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Bush Book Club, by Margaret Wild & Ben Wood

Echidna loved reading snug in bed,
with platters of ants and buttered bread.
Kangaroo loved reading as she hopped along,
trying not fall in the billabong.

All the animals love reading, and are members of the Bush Book Club. Everyone, that is, except Bilby. Bilby has never found a book that interest him. he is too busy twiddling and fiddling, skipping and hopping. Until one day he finds himself alone with nothing but a room full of books.

The Bush Book Club is a lovely story about books – and the importance of finding the right one. The resolution makes clear the premise held by many teachers, librarians, authors and other book people that there is a right book for every reader, and that a child who doesn’t like books hasn’t been given the right book yet.

Bilby and his friends have been beautifully brought to life in the water colour and pencil illustrations by Ben Wood, and youngsters will also enjoy the settings, especially the tree-home of the Book Club.



The Bush Book Club, by Margaret Wild & Ben Wood
Omnibus Books, 2014
ISBN 9781742990149

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Smallest Bilby and the Midnight Star, by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley

Every night the smallest bilby looks up at the midnight sky and searches for his favourite star – the smallest one that hangs close to the edge of the sky. Every night she shines down on him. But one night, fearful that she may go away and never come back, the smallest bilby decides to give her something that will make her remember him forever and always.

The Littlest Bilby and the Midnight Star is a delightful offering for young children about the beauty of a simple kiss. Created by the talented, award-winning team of author Nette Hilton and illustrator Bruce Whatley, it is sure to please both little Australians and their parents, and would make a perfect bedtime story.

Whatley has used pen and ink wash on watercolour paper to create subdued, gentle illustrations appropriate to the night time setting of the story. The huge ears and the pink-tipped noses of the bilbies are very cute.

This beautiful offering is the first in of a trilogy featuring the Smallest Bilby and dedicated to Rose-Marie Dusting, who is recognised as the creator of the Easter Bilby concept.

The Smallest Bilby and the Midnight Star, by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley
Working Title Press, 2006

The Bilbies of Bliss, by Margaret Wild

Biba loved it at Bliss. There was so much to do! And the food was delicious!
Now and again, though, she worried that things weren’t as happy as they should be. The Rules were strict, and Matron sometimes lost her temper. But Biba pushed these thoughts away because she felt so lucky just being there.

Biba the Bilby has scrimped and saved so that she can spend her retirment in the beautiful surrounds of the retirment home called Bliss. Here the food is delicious, the food is tasty and the building and surrounds are perfect. Biba feels fortunate to be here.

So, if Matron’s rules:
No dancing.
No parties.
No midnight feasts.
No visiting each other’s rooms.
No talking after lights out.
No being late for dinner.
No falling asleep at the dinner table.

seem a little harsh, timid Biba is not going to complain. But when a new Bilby, Nina, comes to live at Bliss, she soon starts to question the rules. When Matron locks out a latecomer at dinner time, Nina lets him in, and when Matron ostracises a Bilby who falls asleep at dinner, Nina goes and sits with her. Biba is horrified. What if Matron sends Nina away?

Soon, though, Nina’s courage starts to spread to the other Bilbies, and Matron finds her authority being challenged. When they tell her that is she that must leave Bliss, life at Bliss becomes just as it should be – blissful.

This is a delightful allegorical tale about ageing, dignity and compassion. It also shares a message about standing up for justice and working together to change what is wrong. By choosing anthropomorphised animal characters, Wild has softened the message of the tale, but not diminished it. There is a serious message which adults and older children will easily perceive, whilst younger readers will enjoy the tale for its surface value.

The watercolour illustrations match the gentleness of the text, and with antique shades of olives, blues, mauves and greys, provide an antique feel appropriate to the setting of an aged person’s home. The attire of the bilbies, with beads, jackets and sensible shoes, is especially delightful.

This a book which is sure to endure, touching both children and adults, for a long time to come.

The Bilbies of Bliss, by Margaret Wild and Noela Young
ABC Books, 2005