Look see, look at me,
I’m so much bigger now I’m three.
I can run, I can jump, I can skip, I can bump…
This exuberant picture book is a delightful exploration of childhood, particularly within an Aboriginal community. As the young protagonist cavorts through the pages, he is watched – and helped – by a variety of doting family members. Most of the experiences and actions expressed in the text are ones which children and parents of every background will relate to – running, jumping, copying, giggling, bumping – but the illustrations set the action outdoors in a remote community with trees, ochre landscapes, even crocodiles adding interest for children from other parts of Australia and, importantly a setting to which children from such isolated communities will relate.
The creators, author Leonie Norrington and illustrator Dee Huxley, visited three northern communities and workshopped ideas for the text and illustrations, creating a delightful celebration of childhood and community life.
Look See, Look at Me! by Leonie Norrington and Dee Huxley
Allen & Unwin, 2010
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
Once upon a time, there was a little wooden duck that sat on the windowsill of Annie’s bedroom. Every day Annie picked up the little duck and stroked it, wishing it could speak to her. But the little wooden duck continued to sit silently on the window sill – until, one day, something miraculous happened.
Annie loves her little wooden duck, but she really wishes it could see and hear and feel. When a storm sweeps the duck off Annie’s windowsill something magical happens and, far away from Annie’s home, the duck finds itself waking up real. Remembering the love Annie has for it, it flies home to her.
The Miracle of the Little Wooden Duck is a gorgeous fairytale offering about love and magic. Richly illustrated in oil paintings by Dee Huxley, the duck is especially beautiful in rich dark greens with a golden beak and beady eye.
This a joyful story which young readers will adore.
The Miracle of the Little Wooden Duck, by Margaret Wild and Dee Huxley
Working Title Press, 2010
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereveiws.
The sun burns hotly thro’ the gums
As down the road old Rogan comes –
The hatter from the lonely hut
Beside the track to Woollybutt.
He likes to spend his Christmas with us here.
He says a man gets sort of strange
Living alone without a change,
Gets sort of settled in his way;
And so he comes each Christmas day
To share a bite of tucker and a beer.
Whilst in recent years there have a wonderful range of children’s book offerings which attempt to reflect what Christmas is like in Australia, in 1931, when CJ Dennis wrote A Bush Christmas, Christmas traditions were still largely influenced by Northern Hemisphere practises. Dennis attempted, through his humorous poem, to paint a picture of an Outback Christmas, with families struggling with heat, and the hardships of rural life. The family in the poem share Christmas with a lonely neighbour, and enjoy his tales of Christmas in colder climes, which seem so far removed from what they have.
In this delightful picture book offering, illustrator Dee Huxley brings the classic poem to life with beautiful, whimsical pastel illustrations, capturing the humour of the tale and the rustic quality of the location.
This is a wonderful offering, combining a classic poem with the illustrative work of a popular contemporary illustrator and would make a great Christmas gift for any age.
A Bush Christmas, by C.J. Dennis, illustrated by Dee Huxley
Black Dog, 2008
Few adults would dispute the value of alphabet books in presenting the letters of the alphabet and basic words to young children, but the challenge is always to take the book beyond a bland instructional tool and into something which will actually engage youngsters’ attention. If kids enjoy what they are reading (or listening to) then they are far more likely to absorb the intended lessons.
In By Jingo, author Janeen Brian manages to achieve this balance by presenting the alphabet lesson through a series of verses, one for each letter of the alphabet. Instead of just being told, for example, that G is for giraffe, youngsters can enjoy the following poem:
is made up
of five long stalks,
one for his neck
for his walks!
The accompanying illustrations, by the talented Dee Huxley, are full of colour and humour, again drawing children into the text.
Children will love the rhymes, the humour and the vibrant chalk-pastel illustrations so much that they won’t realise they are also learning. Teachers and parents will find the book a delightful way to teach children letters and sounds.
By Jingo!, by Janeen Brian and Dee Huxley
ABC Books, 2005
With no eggs and no fat chickens, all Pierre has left is his pig. But oh, how he loves Jean-Jacques! He is a fine fellow, big and black and whiskery.
It is Autumn and the poor farmer, Pierre and his pig, Jean-Jacques, are searching for truffles. Pierre dreams of the money they will have if they can find some. He will buy himself a new red beret and, for Jean Jacques, a fine leather collar.
Jean-Jacques does not know what truffles smell like, but Pierre tells him they smell like the breath of an angel. When Jean-Jacques smells something beautiful, he is sure it smells like an angel. But are there truffles underneath the mound of leaves in the forest – or something far more beautiful?
Angel Breath is an evocative book from one of Australia’s foremost children’s authors. Set in the European forest, the tale is warm and the characters endearing. The subdued colours of Dee Huxley’s illustrations are perfect for the setting and tone of the story.
Children will love the twist in the story and guessing what it is hiding under the leaves. Adults will love the gentle, lyrical text.
Angel Breath, by Glenda Millard and Dee Huxley
ABC Books, 2005