First Day by Margaret Wild, ill Kim Gamble

Before school
Salma gets out the ham, salad and cheese. She’s making her own lunch because her mum is busy with the three little ones. Salma makes the biggest, fattest sandwich ever.
Khalil puts on his shiny new shoes. He is excellent at tying his shoelaces. He can do double bows, even triple bows! He likes tying shoelaces more than anything in the world.

It’s the first day of school for 6 children and the first day back at school for one of the mums. Each child and family is introduced separately, with telling details about their personality and home structure. They travel to school and meet their teacher and the pages are crammed depictions of this first school day and the responses of individuals to the class and to each other. Alex’s dog visits and she has a brilliant idea. When their day is done, the children (and dog) all return home. Watercolour and pencil illustrations begin simply, then as the children move through their day, the images become a combination of group ‘shots’ and vignettes.

‘First Day’ was initially published in 1999, but loses none of its relevance in 2017. The children, from diverse homes, carry all the innocence, anticipation, trepidation and bravery that are displayed in any first day classroom. It’s a delight to see the classroom through the eyes of these young children and to remember that first days don’t ever stop. It’s Alex’s Mum’s first day back at ‘school’ and she carries many of the same emotions and fears as the children – a lovely thing for young children to understand. The illustrations invite empathy and model gentleness. Ideal for use at home and in the classroom. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.
First Day, Margaret Wild ill Kim Gamble Allen & Unwin 2017 ISBN: 9781760293918

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

The Sloth Who Came to Stay, by Margaret Wild & Vivienne To

Sloth ate
He was so slow that Amy had plenty of time to talk about the things that had happened that day.

Amy’s family is the speediest family in the world. They do everything fast: shopping, eating, walking. There is never any time to talk or play or laugh. Until Amy brings home a sloth she finds in the park. Because the sloth does everything slowly, the family are forced to go slower too. And things begin to change.

The Sloth Who Came to Stay is a humorous tale with an important reminder for readers of all age about the value of taking time to enjoy conversations, experiences and more. With text by the marvelous icon of Australian chidlren’s literature, Margaret Wild, and digital illustrations from debut illustrator Vivienne To, this is a delight.

The Sloth Who Came to Stay, by Margaret Wild & Vivienne To
Allen & Unwin, 2017
ISBN 9781760290221

One Keen Koala, by Margaret Wild & Bruce Whatley

ONE keen koala
ready for school.

One keen koala is ready for his first day of school. hH is joined by two perky penguins, three excited wallabies and so on, as they discover the fun of starting school. From posing for photographs, to meeting the teacher, to playing with paint and glue, having stories and, at the end of the day hurrying home to mum, the animals romp through the day.

With rhyming text by Margaret Wild and joy-filled watercolour and pencil illustrations by Bruce Whatley, this is an offering sure to be embraced by youngsters starting school, and their parents. It will withstand repeated rereadings, and the simplicity of the text will encourage children to join in on rereadings.


One Keen Koala, by Margaret Wild & Bruce Whatley
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781743629291

The Pocket Dogs and the Lost Kitten, by Margaret Wild & Stephen Michael King

But one day they noticed that Mr Pockets was spending a lot of time playing with the kitten.
He laughed when she sat on his head.
He laughed when she scampered away with his ball of wool.
He laughed when she tip-toed around the bath.
And he looked contented when she fell asleep on his chest.

Biff and Buff love living with Mr Pockets – and riding in the pockets of his very big coat. But when a lost kitten arrives on their doorstep, they are at first concerned and help to look after the kitten. Until they notice how much Mr Pockets loves the kitten, and start to worry that Mr Pockets might neglect them. When clever Mr Pockets realises this, he reassures them, but in the meantime the kitten has run away, and it’s up to the Pocket Dogs to get her to come back.

ThePocket Dogs and the Lost Kitten is the third wonderful story featuring the wise and whimsical Mr Pockets and his two adorable canine companions. It is a tale about companionship, and friendship and, of course, the idea that there is no limit on how many people (or animals) a person can love. It could also be used as preparation for the arrival of a new sibling. Mostly, though, it is a joyous book about a man and his animal companions.

With the whimsy and quirky detail of the previous books, the illustrations, in ink and pencil, are divine.

The Pocket Dogs and the Lost Kitten, by Margaret Wild & Stephen Michael King
Scholastic, 2016
ISBN 9781742991054

Bogtrotter, by Margaret Wild & Judith Rossell

He ran day after day,
week after week,
year after year.
Sometimes he felt bored,
but he didn’t know why.
Sometimes he wished things would change,
but he didn’t know how or what or why.

Every day Bogtrotter comes out of his cave, stretches and runs: up the bog, down the bog and around the bog, until it is time to go home. Sometimes he feels discontent, but he doesn’t know why, or how to change things, until he meets a frog who causes him to question why he always does things the same way. That afternoon he picks a flower for the first time, which leads to other changes.

Bogtrotter is a lovely tale of the joy of life and taking risks. The Bogtrotter is a grassy green being with a cuddly body and big smile. His surroundings are simple, making him the chief focus of the illustrations. His energy and expressions make him a delightful star.

Bogtrotter, suitable for kids (and adults) of all ages, is wonderful way of exploring the value of thinking outside the square.

Bogtrotter, by Margaret Wild & Judith Rossell
Walker Books, 2015
ISBN 9781921977558

Available from good bookstores and online.

This Little Piggy Went Singing, by Margaret Wild & Deborah Niland

This little piggy went singing
This little piggy stayed home
This little piggy had noodles
This little piggy had none
And this little piggy went toot, toot, toot
all the way home.

Inspired by the traditional ‘This Little Piggy’ rhyme, this delightful Christmas picture book is full of action and humour and little Christmassy details. Every spread has four pigs doing various Christmas related things, and a fifth making music ‘all the way home.’ The five pigs take turns so that it is not the same pig who stays home, or plays music, or has none. As well as making music, the pigs trim the tree, bake, post Christmas cards, eat Christmas treats and more.

The pigs are full of life and. just simply, adorable. Spotting the mouse-friend appears on every spread will entertain young readers.

A lovely way to celebrate Christmas, and also suitable for year-round reading, This Little Piggy Went Singing would make a special gift for a toddler.


This Little Piggy Went Singing

This Little Piggy Went Singing, by Margaret Wild & Deborah Niland
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743319123

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.

Davy and the Duckling, by Margaret Wild & Julie Vivas

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.



Book Cover:  Davy and the Duckling

Davy and the Duckling, by Margaret Wild & Julie Vivas
Penguin, 2013
ISBN 9780670075614

Available from good bookstores and online.

Tanglewood, by Margaret Wild & Vivienne Goodman

‘What is family?’ asked Tanglewood.
‘Family is love and friendship. Family is everything.’

Tanglewood is the only tree on a tiny island, and she is lonely. She calls to the dolphins, the seals and the birds to come and play with her, but they don’t, and Tanglewood thinks she might die of loneliness. Then, in the midst of a storm, a seagull falls into her branches, and Tanglewood shelters her. When Seagull leaves, to return to her family, Tanglewood is even more alone, having known the feeling of company, but she stays strong, because one day Seagull will return. When that day comes, Tanglewood gets a delightful surprise – not one seagull, but a whole flock, bearing the gift of life in the form of seeds.

Tanglewood is a breathtaking collaboration. Margaret Wild’s text is powerful, syaing enough but never too much and moving like a gentle stream from page to page. Read aloud, the words entrance. The illustrations are a mix of sizes, form double page spreads, to multiple panels on a page, as well as single panels and horizontal panels spanning the middle of spreads with text above and below. The might of the sea, the sparsity of the lonely island and the beauty of the gulls are all captured.

This is a charming, wrenching, gorgeous story.


Tanglewood, by Margaret Wild & Vivienne Goodman
Omnibus, 2012
ISBN 9781862915701

This book is available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Vampyre, by Margaret Wild & Andrew Yeo

Vampyreis an extraordinary picture book for older readers. Whilst it is about a Vampyre, this is not a cloak wearing, coffin-dwelling stereotypical vampire, and is well removed from the modern vampire stories pitched at teens in recent years. Instead, the narrator is a fairly normal looking young teen

I am Vampyre.
I live in darkness.
I long for light.


Vampyre lives in darkness, feared and despised. As a child he was free to play and swim in the moonlight, where he befriended the birds and the deer. Now he is fully grown, expected to embrace his role, to attack and to kill. But instead he longs for the light. Finally, he waits for midday and runs away from his family, weeping as he emerges. His old friends, the deer and the birds, welcome him.

Vampyreis an extraordinary picture book for older readers. Whilst it is about a Vampyre, this is not a cloak wearing, coffin-dwelling stereotypical vampire, and is well removed from the modern vampire stories pitched at teens in recent years. Instead, the narrator is a fairly normal looking young teen, with pale hair and skin (he is a creature of the night and must stay out of the light), and with small fangs visible in only a few illustrations. Far from being frightening or intimidating he looks like any lost and confused youngster. And this is the point of the tale – Vampyre could just as well be a teen pressured to conform on issues of sexuality, or career choice, or religion, as a child pressured to live the life of a vampyre. he wants something different than those around him, and his parents – especially his father – struggle to accept that.

Wild’s text tells the tale without trying to moralise or convince. The issue is there for the reader to explore. Illustrator Yeo does a brilliant job of using shadow and minimal light to bring to life a story which is necessarily dark-hued. The final spread, with Vampyre huddled in the morning frost, makes wonderful use of light, with golden sunlight breaking through the trees suggesting hope.

In a classroom setting Vampyrewould offer much fodder for discussion, but individuals will also be moved by it.



Vampyre, by Margaret Wild & Andrew Yeo
Walker Books, 2011
ISBN 9781921529221

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.