Amazing Australians in their Flying Machines by Prue & Kerry Mason ill Tom Jellett

If only it took a week to travel between Australian and England instead of three months. If only the ship voyage wasn’t so dangerous. If we didn’t live at the end of the world in this outpost – this Colony of Australia. It’s not I who says this but my fellow Sydneysiders who wish for one last sight of England before they die. As their doctor, I can diagnose illnesses perform surgery and prescribe medication but what can I do for those who are homesick?
There’s just one thing: I can invent a flying ship. And I’ve done it!
Or at least, I’ve drawn the pictures. All that’s left to do is build it and watch it fly.

The dream of flying has motivated many thinkers and inventors across many years. In the Age of Machines, eyes turned to the sky for a way to travel through the air. There were many naysayers who considered flight a ridiculous and foolish notion, but the dreamers persisted, trying and failing, trying again. Little by little, they overcame the barriers to flight. Meet some of the Australian pioneers and the thinking that contributed to the advent of aviation. ‘Did you know?’ boxes offer some of the science of flying. Illustrations, photos and fact boxes intersperse the biographical text.

Successful flight was not an overnight achievement, nor the achievement of a single individual. Around the world, across many years, many thinkers and doers were moving closer and closer, learning from the successes and failures of others. ‘Amazing Australians in their Flying Machines’ showcases Australians who contributed along the way. Readers will discover the history, the people, the science and the politics of flying, told from a particularly Australian viewpoint. Recommended for budding pilots, engineers, historians and mid-primary readers.

Amazing Australians in their Flying Machines, Prue and Kerry Mason ill Tom Jellett
Walker Books Australia 2017
ISBN: 9781922244635

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

A Dog’s Tale by Barry Jonsberg ill Tom Jellett

‘No,’ said Mum.
‘What do you mean?’ I asked.
‘I mean, no. Definitely not, it’s not happening, forget it, Buckley’s, not a snowflake’s chance in hell.’
Her mouth was a slit and her eyes were hard. ‘Now do you understand, Michael?’ She only calls me Michael when she’s angry.
‘Not entirely,’ I said.

Michael wants a dog. Really, really wants a dog. Unfortunately, neither his mum nor his dad share his enthusiasm. They articulate many reasons, and although he has an answer to every objection, the answer is still no. While he tries to change their minds, he sets about showing his parents just how responsible he is. There are colour illustrations on every opening.

A Dog’s Tale’ is a new title in the popular and engaging Mates series from Omnibus Books for young readers. Each tells a particularly Australian-flavoured story, full of humour. Michael is not the first child to want a dog, but his determination to prove his responsibility is unparalleled. No effort is too much, if it might change the decision about a dog. Love the illustrations from Tom Jellett, particularly the dog Michael takes for a walk. Recommended for newly-independent readers.

A Dog’s Tale, Barry Jonsberg, Tom Jellett
Omnibus Books 2017
ISBN: 9781742991399

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

The Ugg Boot War, by Kylie Fornasier

I would need a book the size of the Yellow Pages to list all the embarrassing things about my dad. The most embarrassing thing of all is his ugg boots. he wears them all the time, even in public, even in summer, even with shorts.

Jake has a problem – two problems actually, and both of them are on the ends of Dad’s legs. Dad seems permanently attached to his ugg boots. He wears them everywhere, all year round. They are old and stained, but Dad doesn’t care. He says they’re his pride and joy. Jake cares, though. He worries what people might think, and tries desperately to find a way to get Dad and his ugg boots separated – for good.

The Ugg Boot War is a humorous, easy to read story about ugg boots and family. The resolution is both satisfying and fun, and the story is complemented with colour illustrations, by Tom Jellett, bringing the action to life.

Part of Omnibus Books’ fantastic Mates series, The Ugg Boot War is a fabulous Aussie tale for beginning readers.


The Ugg Boot War (Mates)

The Ugg Boot War, by Kylie Fornasier & Tom Jellett
Omnibus Books, 2014
ISBN 9781862919990

Available from good bookstores and online.

Seadog, by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Tom Jellett

Our dog is not a trick dog,
a sit-still-then-roll-over dog.
Our dog is a seadog,
a jump-and-chase-the=waves dog.

Seadog is not well-trained, well groomed, trip-performing dog. Instead he is a fun lvng puppy who loves the sea and everything about it: the sounds, the sights and even – perhaps especially – the smells. And it is the smells that get him in trouble, because after he rolls in smelly fish he has to be taken home and washed. Seadog does not like the suds and water of a bath but he endures it, and is soon clean and fluffy – but only until someone opens the door.

Seadog is a delightful romp of a tale about a dog who loves the sea. In turn he is loved by his family and will be loved by young readers. The text is rhythmic and uses repetition, alliteration and internal rhymes to create something fun to read and to listen to. Kids will love joining in, especially on repeat readings, which will be in demand. Illustrations, by Tom Jellett, are a delight, and the big red Seadog comes to life against sandy yellows and watery blues which really capture the feel of the beach.

Perfect for early childhood, this is a book which warms the heart with its zest for life.


Seadog, by Claire Saxby and Tom Jellett
Random House, 2013
ISBN 9781742756509

Available from good bookstores and online.

Meet My Book: Sea Dog, by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Tom Jellett

I’m loving having Aussie authors drop in to tell us all about their latest book. Today I’m especially pleased to welcome my friend, and wonderful children’s author Claire Saxby.Claire is here to tell us all about her beautiful new book, Sea Dog. Over to you, Claire.

1. Give us the details – title, publisher, illustrator, release date.

Seadog, illustrated by Tom Jellett, Random House. Release date was 1 May.


2. Why did you write the book?

I’ve always wanted to write a book about a dog, but even though we’ve had one for the past 6 years, it has taken until recently to find a way to do it. I wanted to capture the boundless joy that dogs seem to have for life. They don’t always do what we might like them to do, but there’s something about they way they are at the beach that is so free. I think children are the same, particularly at the beach. The beach is calming, energising, fun, messy, and hot/cold. And joyful.

3. How long from idea to publication?

This was a short one by picture book standards. I think it was less than two years from concept (in this form) to release. Although I confess to multiple previous attempts that fizzled before even becoming complete horrible first drafts.

4. What was the hardest thing about writing it?

Trusting myself. Letting go and just having fun with it. Getting close in, getting far enough away from the facts to find the fiction.

5. Coolest thing about your book?

To share the joy that a dog can bring. Tom’s illustrations are amazing. Seadog is so expressive.

6. Something you learnt through writing the book?

Not so much learnt but reinforced how much fun there is in playing with words.

7. What did you do celebrate the release?

I’ve had a ‘coastal launch’ for Seadog, but the official launch is yet to come. That’s 2 June at the 10th Williamstown Literary Festival. 2 pm. All welcome. 🙂

8. And how will you promote the book?

I’ve a few school visits planned, I’ll visit bookshops and libraries for story time. I’m also doing some promotion online via my blog.

9. What are you working on next?

I can’t quite decide. I have several projects I’d like to tackle, just can’t decide which one …

10. Where we can find out more about you and your book?

At my website, or my blog Seadog can be seen in bookshops EVERYWHERE!

Thanks for dropping in, Claire. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you.

Stories for 7 Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight

What do seven year olds like to read about? Lots of things! And this book aimed at seven year old readers, covers lots of different subjects, in different forms. There is a story about a mother on a diet, one about surfing in an outback pool, another about a young emperor with a headache, and yet another about an author visiting a school. Whilst all are prose, one is interspersed with poetry and others use fairytale, mythology, first person narration and even the format of a school report, meaning there is plenty of variety.

The 11 stories are illustrated by Tom Jellett, giving a uniformity to the volume, and back of book biographies introduce each author who include some of the biggest names of Australian children’s literature, including Morris Gleitzman, Paul Jennings and Margaret Clark.

Suitable for newly independent readers to read on their own, the stories are also suitable for reading aloud.

Stories for Seven Year Olds

Stories for Seven Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight, illustrated by Tom Jellett
Random House, 2012
ISBN 9781742756622

Available from good bookstores or online.

Stories for 5 Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight

Some of the best-known names in Australian children’s literature, with offerings new and old, combine in this wonderful new anthology targeted at, as the name suggests, five year old readers. Contributors include Ursula Dubosarsky, Janeen Brian , Mark Macleod and more, and Tom Jellett  provides grey scale illustrations

A couple of the stories (The Two Gorillas, by Dubosarsky and The Gorilla Suit by Victor Kelleher) were previously published as part of  Penguin’s Aussie Nibble’s series, and others have been published in School Magazine or by other publishers. Two stories (Charlotte the Explorer, by Dianne Bates and Look! by Lizzie Horne) appear here for the first time.

Good stuff.

Stories for Five Year Olds

Stories for Five Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight
Random House, 2012
ISBN 9781742756660

Available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond.

All are well targeted for five year old readers, each suitable for reading aloud in a single sitting. Early independent readers would also find the stories accessible.

Stories for 6 Year Olds, edited by Linsay Knight

Kids love stories that are silly, accessible and quick to read – and Stories for Six Year Olds addresses all of these criteria, with eleven stories in the one volume, targeted for solo reading (or read-aloud with an adult) by readers of around six years of age.

Some of the stories appear here for the first time, with others being brought back to life for a new generation of readers. Parker=Hamilton, for example, was written by Robin Klein in 1984 whilst The Stuck-Tight Tooth is new from Dianne Bates. Other authors include Sophie Masson and Victor Kelleher. Illustrations, in black and white, are by Tom Jellett.

The stories can be read individually or read cover to cover and will stand repeated readings, either aloud or individually.

Stories for Six Year Olds

Stories for Six Year Olds, edited by Linsay knight, illustrated by Tom Jellett
Random Hosue
ISBN 9781742756646

Available from good bookstores or online.

Barnesy, by Allayne Webster

Dad hates mowing the lawn. He says Victor the Lawnmower is evil. My dad is the only one I know who has a name for his lawnmower. No one else’s dad’s lawnmower has a name. I’ve checked. I asked all the kids in my class.

Hannaford is called Hannaford because of an inventor of farm machines. Stumpy the cockatoo is called Stumpy because he was found on a stump having a fight with a stumpy tailed lizard and because Dad is stumped to know how Stumpy won. Hannaford has had enough with these names. He wants to name the next animal that comes to their house. He wants a sensible name. So when his chance comes he calls the new lamb Barnesy after his favourite singer. He discovers that perhaps he’s acquired some of his namesake’s inventing skills and then there’s his solution to Dad’s regular arguments with Victor. Tom Jellett has used collage and pencil to perhaps mimic a school project.

Barnesy is a new title in the Mates series from Omnibus. Barnesy celebrates a very Australian way of life, where children can still run free and animals can always find a safe home. Hannaford’s might be frustrated with the strange names around his place, but he’s still very attached to his family and the way they work together. This family is not perfect – Mum gets cross with Dad, Dad gets cross with Victor, Hannaford gets cross with his sister, but they all pull together when they need to support an injured animal. Told in first person, Hannaford tells his story with warmth and truth. Barnesy is full of wry humour and is sure to be enjoyed by newly independent readers (and their parents!)

Barnesy (Mates)

Barnesy, Allayne Webster ill Tom Jellett,
Omnibus Books 2010
ISBN: 9781862918214

Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.

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

Australia at the Beach, by Max Fatchen

I’m holding my new flippers.
Quick! Time is racing past.
Australia Day. The sky is clear.
Here’s William, always last.

The neighbours’ car is loaded
With such a noisy crowd.
It’s very sad for Rover,
For beach dogs aren’t allowed.

Happy Anniversary to Australia at the Beach! Ten years is a great achievement. For many Australians trips to the beach are part of every summer. For those lucky enough to live within cooee of the coast, this can be a daily excursion over summer. For others it’s a holiday treat. But for the family in Australia at the Beach this is an Australia Day outing. There’s Mum and Dad, Grandad, a boy, a girl and baby William. The journey, recounted in rhyme and illustrated in bright beach colours, begins with the loading of the car. The adventure continues through the day with swimming, building sandcastles and more until finally, it’s time to go home. Throughout, William makes his presence felt, with lost sandals, nappy changes and much more. Little aside vignettes share ‘beach etiquette tips’.

Australians love their beaches and rightly so. In a hot dry country, the cool ocean is a natural retreat. Max Fatchen and Tom Jellett provide a day at the beach that will resonate with adults and children alike. There’s the paraphernalia required, the journey and the carparking before the magic land that is the beach. There is no age limit to enjoyment of the beach and each double spread is full of Australians young and old. The narrator is the young boy of the family who though occasionally exasperated by his baby brother, keeps an eye out for him. Many readers will recognise experiences from their childhood. Australia at the Beach is ageless. Despite a changing world, the simplicity of water and sand will continue to attract all ages. Recommended for preschool and early primary readers.

Australia at the Beach

Australia at the Beach Max Fatchen ill Tom Jellett
Omnibus Books 2009
ISBN: 9781862918702

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.