A is for Australian Animals, by Frane Lessac

Australia is full of the most amazing animals. Many of them are found nowhere else in the world. From gliding and dancing animals to slithering and hopping ones – all are unique!

Australian animals are as amazing as they are unique. From marsupials including kangaroos and wombats, to big birds such as the emu, to poisonous critters like the irukandji jellyfish, each animal has something special which will amaze young readers.

A is for Australian Animals, combines facts about these animals with deatiled, delightful illustrations. There is one or more animal for every letter of the alphabet, with each given a page or spread containing several facts about the animal against illustrations bringing both the animal and its environemnt to life.

Combining Lessac’s gouache illustration style with a range of facts, A is for Australian Animals is both visually and mentally engaging.

Suitable for schools and home enjoyment.

A is for Australian Animals: A Factastic Tour, by Frane Lessac
Walker Books, 2017
ISBN 9781925381009

Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse, by Mark Greenwood & Frane Lessac

…in the winter of 1914,
the drums of a distant war are beating.
Guy and Midnight heed the nation’s call.
The wind blows in Midnight’s mane.
And they ride to join the Light Horse.

Guy Haydon has loved his horse, Midnight, since she was born on the family farm. Now he and Midnight are joining up – heading off to fight together in a war on the other side of the world. Together they travel to Cairo and, in spite of being separated when Guy is sent alone to Gallipoli, they later ride together on one of the last great cavalry charges in history, the ride on Beersheba in August 1917.

Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse is a stunning new picture book from one of Australia’s leading creative pairings in the form. The text is a wonderful blend of poetic, emotive prose and historical basis, and the illustrations capture the colours of the desert and bush settings and the starkness of he war scenes with a deceptive simplicity.

Back of book notes give context to the true story on which the book is based, including details of the charge on Beersheba.

With ANZAC Day approaching, Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse is ideal for school use as well as private reading.


Midnight: The Story of a Light Horse, by Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac
Walker Books, 2014
ISBN 9781921977718

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Greatest Liar on Earth, by Mark Greenwood & Frane Lessac

Youngsters will enjoy de Rougemont’s tall tales, and the journey on which they take him, from poverty to fame and back again.

Louis raised a hand to silence the crowd. “In uncharted waters, my schooner drifted through heaving seas, where gruesome fish with bulging eyes and hairy moustaches reared out of the water.”
A member of the Royal Geographical Society revealed himself. “Is everything you say true?” he asked.
Louis smiled serenely. “Every word,” he replied without hesitation.

Louis de Rougemont is an explorer. He has written a book telling of his travels – travels so breathtaking amazing people queue up to come and hear him speak. There’s the story of riding a giant turtle, the one about wrestling a crocodile, and even one about finding giant nuggets of gold. Everywhere he goes Louis is feted and applauded. Until newspapers reveal him to be a charlatan – possibly the greatest liar on earth.

The Greatest Liar on Earth is wonderful historic fiction, telling the “true” story of a man who made his name by telling lies. Youngsters will enjoy de Rougemont’s tall tales, and the journey on which they take him, from poverty to fame and back again. Back of book facts show the truth on which some of his stories were based, and the illustrations bring to life both the rich tapestry of Victorian London and the exotic settings of the fraudster’s “adventures”.

The team of author Mark Greenwood and artist Frane Lessac have a knack for bringing history to life in a way sure to engage young readers, who will be intrigued with the character and his story at the same time they are learning about the past, and receiving a gentle lesson about the consequences of not telling the truth.


The Greatest Liar on Earth
The Greatest Liar on Earth, by Mark Greenwood & Frane Lessac
Walker Books, 2012
ISBN 9781921529856

This book is avaialble from good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Ned Kelly and the Green Sash, by Mark Greenwood

I do not pretend that I have led a blameless life, or that one fault justified another, but the public, judging a case like mine, should remember that the darkest life may have a bright side…

As a child, Ned Kelly saved another boy from drowning in a flooded creek, and was awarded a green sash for his heroism. But it was not this act of bravery for which Ned was to become famous – but for his career as an outlaw, begun just a few short years later.

Whilst there are have been dozens of books, stories, songs and poems about Ned Kelly’s life, Ned Kelly and the Green Sash offers a new insight into his childhood and into his character. The first person narrative presents Ned’s perspective of events, whilst the use of newspaper formats in the middle of the book offers the contrast of the opinions of the time. The gouache illustrations, by Frane Lessac, also give readers an insight into Kelly’s life, with the rich colours of the bush contrasting with the more subdued tones of the prison cell and the sepia tones of the newspaper spreads.

Author Mark Greenwood encourages readers to form their own opinions of Kelly’s actions, and the first person narrative, complemented with the news extracts and Ned’s own writing, as well as back of book notes, gives plenty of food for thought.

A wonderful offering for children of all ages.

Ned Kelly and the Green Sash

Ned Kelly and the Green Sash, by Mark Greenwood & Frane Lessac
Walker Books Australia, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through these links supports Aussiereviews.

Simpson and His Donkey, by Mark Greenwood & Frane Lessac

In time for ANZAC Day 2008, Walker Books Australia have released a very Australian picture book telling the well known story of Simpson and his donkey. Born in England, Simpson was far from home in Australia when World War 1 broke out. He enlisted and found himself not in England, as he’d hoped, but in Egypt and then Turkey, where he worked as a stretcher bearer. In Gallipoli, Simpson found stretchers in short demand, so he enlisted the help of wild donkeys to rescue over 300 wounded men and to transport water to thirsty soldiers. Sadly, as Simpson went once more onto the battlefield he was shot and killed.

This retelling of Simpson’s story is told in simple language but not at the risk of trivialising the story or the war itself. Greenwood has a knack of making history accessible for children. In turn, illustrator Frane Lessac, brings the story to life with gouache illustrations filled with little details and rich colours.

This is an important story beautifully represented in a form suitable for educational use and also private reading.

Simpson and his Donkey, by Mark Greenwood and Frane Lessac
Walker Books, 2008

The Day of the Elephant, by Barbara Ker Wilson and Frane Lessac

The great elephant turned her head from side to side and flapped her ears as she walked along…Dang Kiet sensed that Mae Jabu was not very happy today.

When the big elephant Mae Jabu makes a visit to the village, the children are excited. But before long their lives are in peril as a tsunami strikes. The gentle Mae Jabu becomes their life saver as she lifts the young children onto her back and carries them to safety, out of reach of the rising waters.

When the Boxing Day Tsunami hit Thailand and other Asian countries in 2004, it brought massive tragedy. But amidst the destruction there were also many amazing tales of survival, including tales of elephants who helped rescue people from the giant wave and its aftermath. The Day of the Elephant shares one such story.

This inspiring tale is well complemented with the folk art illustrative style of Frane´ Lessac with bold colours and simple yet telling depictions of the various scenes.

Royalties from the sale of The Day of the Elephant have been donated to the Asian tsunami aid effort.

The Day of the Elephant, by Barbara Ker Wilson , illustrated by Frane´ Lessac
Angus and Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins), 2005

The Legend of Moondyne Joe, by Mark Greenwood

One of the more colourful characters from Western Australia’s past has been brought to life in a new picture book from Cygnet Books, the children’s imprint of UWA Press.

The Legend of Moondyne Joe
tells the story of Joseph Johns (who became known as Moondyne Joe), who is remembered for his daring escapes from custody.

History has questioned whether Joe was really a hardened criminal, or simply a harmless lover of freedom. Author Mark Greenwood manages to explore Moondyne’s tale without either condemning or condoning his actions, yet the reader finds himself quietly cheering Joe on.

The story is told in simple yet clear detail and is superbly complemented by the gouache paintings of illustrator Frane Lessac (who is also Greenwood’s wife). The illustrations add to the air of history in the piece and are also true to the Western Australian setting. The pictures of the Fremantle Prison are especially accurate.

The addition of a glossary of terms and notes on the convict era are a useful educational tool and also help the independent reader to access the text.

The Legend of Moondyne Joe is an outstanding non fiction picture book text.

The Legend of Moondyne Joe, by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Frane Lessac
Cygnet Books (an imprint of UWA Press), 2002