In a high tree fork, a grey ball unfurls. Tall as a toddler, a dozy young koala sniffs at leaves. … Climb, little Koala,
it’s dinner time.
Following the adventures of one young koala as it becomes time for him to separate from his mother and find his own way in the world, Koala is a wonderful blend of narrative and fact. Koala must overcome hunger, predators, natural disasters, and even other koalas before, finally, he finds a new home where he can live safely.
Part of the wonderful nature Storybooks series, Koala uses narrative non-fiction to trace the life of a fictional koala, grounded in fact, and supported on each spread by additional facts. The text is lyrical, making it accessible and a joy to read, and the illustrations, by one of Australia’s best-loved illustrators, Julie Vivas, are superb.
A must have for Australian homes and classrooms, Koala is also sure to be enjoyed by overseas audiences.
Koala, by Claire Saxby & Julie Vivas
Walker Books, 2017
When the baby duck hatched, the first thing it saw was Davy.
It fluffed its feathers – and started following Davy everywhere.
Around the farmyard,
under the apple trees
and all the way home.
When Dad tells Davy that the duckling thinks he’s its mother, Davy decides that’s just what he’ll be. He makes a nest for it, takes it for its first swim and cares for it. Davy and the duck are together throughout their lives.
Davy and the Duckling is a gentle, moving tale about the love between a child and his unlikely pet. As Davy grows, so too does the duck, there for all the highs and lows of Davy’s life, from losing a friend, to finishing highschool, and even to marrying . The duck ages and becomes fragile, but their friendship remains strong, and the bond is strengthened when Davy becomes a father, and the duck appears to think it is Molly’s mother.
A beautiful cycle of life story, Davy and the Duckling is brought to life with the gentle but lively illustrative work of Julie Vivas.
Davy and the Duckling, by Margaret Wild & Julie Vivas
Available from good bookstores and online.
The sun slips into our quiet room.
“I’m awake,” I say.
This delightful read aloud picture book is the story of an early morning wake up that is part game part morning cuddle as the two children of the house wake up and playfully head to Mum and Dad’s room to make sure they are awake, too.
The text is seemingly simple, though the clever use of internal rhyme, and alliteration makes it fun to read – and to listen to, -and Julie Vivas’s warm, rich watercolour and pencil illustrations have lots of humorous detail, adding to the text to build a satisfying whole perfect for sharing.
First released in 2004, the beauty of this book ensures its longevity.
Cuddle Time, by Libby Gleeson & Julie Vivas
Walker Books, this edition 2009
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.
“When you are strong enough and tall enough and brave enough, you’ll leave the burrow all by yourself,” said Big Stripy Beak. “You’ll waddle off into the dark as fast as you can so the scary gulls can’t catch you.”
Little Puffling lives safe in the burrow with his parents, Big Stripy Beak and Long Black Feather, but he knows that one day he will have to leave the burrow and begin life on his own. He waits impatiently – but not without some reservations – for the day that he is strong enough and tall enough and brave enough to waddle off to the sea. In the meantime, he enjoys the company and care of his parents.
Puffling is a delightful new picture book from the amazing team of Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas. Wild’s text is gently lyrical, with Puffling’s repeated questions and his parent’s reassuring answers forming the heartwarming core of the tale. Vivas’ illustrations in pastel and watercolour pencil feature earthy browns and the night time blues of the cave and the ocean surrounding Puffling’s home. Puffling is a baby puffin, but Vivas manages to also make him any child with doting parents.
A delightful story for bedtime or any time, this is a tale of reassurance.
Puffling, by Margaret Wild and Julie Vivas
And so it was that, while they were there, the day came that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The biblical language of this magical version of the story of the birth of Christ, will not be at all inaccessible for young listeners, because author/illustrator Julie Vivas, couples the text with beautiful illustrations which provide a gentle but stunning interpretation.
The Nativity was first released in 1986 and has had numerous reprints since, both in Australia and overseas. It was short listed for the CBCA Picture Book of the Year, is a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honour Book and an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book. Nearly twenty years on it is just as breath-taking in its simplicity. This new edition has been redesigned and the artwork re-scanned and reproduced.
This is an awesome offering from Australia’s finest illustrator.
The Nativity, illustrated by Julie Vivas
This Edition Omnibus, 2005
First Published 1986
There are seven people in Antonio’s family – Mama, Papa, Granny and Grandpa, brother Salvador, sister Alicia and, of course, Antonio, the youngest. Soon there will be another family member – Mama is going to have a baby any day now.
Antonio tells us about lunchtime in his house. Every day Mama calls the family to lunch. It is a noisy and happy affair as each member of the family brings their own personality to the table. When the family is at the table, Mama is happy. But this Monday, things start to change. Papa says he is too busy working to come to the table. On Tuesday, Alicia is too busy to come. On Wednesday it is Salvador who stays away. Things are different and Mama doesn’t like it. Soon, however, it is Mama who is missing from the table. When she returns, it will be with the new baby. Perhaps then she will be happy.
Let’s Eat is a delightful picture book offering, drawing on Ana Zamorana’s Spanish heritage and Julie Vivas’ superb illustrative skills. Vivas uses varying perspectives and angles to draw readers into the family meal and to prevent the lunchtime scenes becoming visually repetitive.
This would be a wonderful story for the classroom – for cultural studies, family values lessons and food-based themes. It makes an equally appealing offering for home reading and sharing.
Let’s Eat! was first published in 1996 and has been reprinted several times – a testament to its quality.
Let’s Eat!, written by Ana Zamorano, illustrated by Julie Vivas
An Omnibus Book from Scholastic Australia, 2004
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.