This is My Song, by Richard Yaxley

When and where is the correct beginning for this retelling? Already I wonder. there are many choices:
I was born in 1929 in the Bavarian town of Bamberg –
Once upon a time there was an Old Man who owned a music shop –
What makes an artist become a tyrant and murderer –
none of these. We must begin with my father.

The son of a Jewish academic who has always loved Germany, Rafael Ullmann’s childhood is confrtable until Hitler’s restrictions start to take effect. When he and his family are sent to a concentration camp, life becomes little more than a battle for survival. As a musician, the boy has something to offer the Germans, though the price is high.

In remote Canada in the 1970s, Annie Ullmann grows up as a sheltered only child. Her parents don’t talk of their past, and Annie never asks, content with her quiet life, until a friendship with a hawk makes her wonder if there is a life further afield.

In contemporary Australia, Joe Hawker doesn’t know what he wants to do with his future. he has a talent for music, but no real passion, until he discovers a song written by his grandfather.

This is My Song is a multi-generational story of the impact of the most terrible war-time events, and of the importance of music as a form of solace and connection. The story of Rafael is particularly heart-wrenching, and the motif of music and song as a connection across the three generations is powerful.

A moving, important story.

This is My Song , by Richard Yaxley
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 781760276140

Toffee Apple by Peter Combe, ill Danielle McDonald

Toffee Apple, nice and licky,
One for Judy, one for Nicky.
Crunchy munchy,
Very sticky
Don’t forget to clean your teeth!

‘Toffee Apple’ is a collection of three much-loved songs from performer Peter Combe. Here they are illustrated with bright colours, with words in larger fonts and a variety of colours. Animals dance as they eat their toffee apples, read the daily newspaper and imagine what it would be like to have six flies land on your jelly. This sturdy paperback comes with a cd of the three songs so everyone can sing along!

There is so much colour and movement in every page of ‘Toffee Apple’ that it is virtually impossible to sit still while it is read. And that’s probably the plan. Peter Combe’s songs are full of wonderful silliness designed to get children dancing about. The colourful pages and all-over-the-place text contribute to the fun. Sing along! Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

Toffee Apple, Peter Combe ill Danielle McDonald
Scholastic Australia 2017 ISBN:

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

Hush Little Possum: An Australian Lullaby, by P. Crumble and Wendy Binks

Hush, Little PossumHush, little possum, don’t you cry,
Mama will keep you safe and dry.

As the sky rumbles, rain falls and the wind bangs sheds and sways trees, Mama Possum hastens to reassure and protect her baby, singing her a lullaby to let her know she will keep her safe and warm.

To the tune of ‘Hush, Little Baby’ Hush, Little Possum gives an Australian twist to the old favourite, brought to life in adorable illustrations by Wendy Binks. The big-eyed possums traverse stormy farm scenes, with appearances by other animals – both wild and farm animals –  giving lots for youngsters to spot and enjoy.

The hard cover picture book is accompanied by a recording of the song, sung by Deborah Mailman, as well as an instrumental version for singing along.

A cute offering for preschoolers.

Hush, Little Possum, by P. Crumble & Wendy Binks
Scholastic, 2015
ISBN 9781743626436

Available from good bookstores and online.