Baby Days, by Ian Bone

Baby days are busy days. Baby doesn’t just eat, sleep and play. He sees wonder in everything he sees and does.

From waking with the sun to riding on a broom-stick horsie and sailing in a tub, the reader views the baby’s day through his rich imagination.

Ian Bone’s text is lyrical yet very simple, floating its way through the book as the baby floats his way through his day. The illustrations of Anne Spudvilas, in rich pastel tones, match the mood of the text perfectly. Spudvilas works in oils and watercolour ink washes to recreate the gentleness of baby’s world. The baby is delightfully gender-neutral.

Baby Days is perfect for gentle bedtime reading and would be a perfect gift for a new born or for a Christening.

Baby Days, by Ian Bone, illustrated by Anne Spudvilas
Omnibus, 2003

YA AudioBook Review: Deadly Unna?, by Phillip Gwynne

Blacky (Gary Black) and Dumby Red play for the same football team, but they come from different worlds. Blacky lives in town with his seven siblings, his long-suffering mother and his alchoholic father. Dumby lives on the point, in the Aborignal settlement.

At first, Blacky thinks he hasn’t got much in common with Dumby, but when Dumby saves his skin by defending him, Gary realises Dumby is his friend. Unfortunately, its might be okay for a Nunga and a Gunya to play football together, but it isn’t so easy for them to be firends.

Through his friendship with Dumby, Blacky starts to see his town through different eyes. He starts to question some of the things which he has previously accepted – racist jokes, rude graffiti, and the separation of black and white.

Deadly Unna is a story about racism, but it is also a story about much more – friendship, family and self-identity being among the themes explored.

The voice of actor Chris Pittman is an excellent fit for the first-person narration of the text, which won the Book of the Year (Older Readers) Award in the CBCA Awards in 1999.

A great version of an outstanding novel for teens.

Deadly Unna, by Phillip Gwynne, read by Chris Pitman
ABC Audio, 2001

Mrs Cook, by Marele Day

Much has been written about Captain James Cook, who earned his place in history by circumnavigating the globe and charting previously unmapped coastlines. Little, however, has been written about his wife, Elizabeth.

In Mrs Cook, Marele Day presents a fictionalised account of the life of Elizabeth Cook. Drawing on historical fact combined with imagined emotions and responses, Day portrays Mrs Cook as a bright and strong woman whose devotion to her husband was unwavering, despite his long absences and his undying thirst for adventure.

Elizabeth Cook, left at home for years at a time, raised a family, experiencing birth, death, financial hardship and the fear, eventually realised, of never seeing her husband again.

Day’s powerful prose draws the reader in to Elizabeth’s life, establishing an intimate connection with the Captain’s wife.


Mrs Cook, by Marele Day
Allen & Unwin, 2002, republished 2003

Audio Book Review: Pannikin & Pinta, by Colin Thiele

When the usually arid Lake Eyre in Central Australia is filled by rare floods, its shores become home to a great range of wildlife, including pelicans. But when the lake starts to shrink again, these animals face a choice between starvation and risking their lives to return to their regular homes.

In Pannikin & Pinta a pair of pelicans comes to the flooded lake to raise a family. When the flood recedes, the mother sets off on a journey with her teenage children to attempt to return to the coast.

Combining the masterful prose of Colin Thiele with the warm reading voice of actor Roger Cardwell, this is a production which touches the soul. Although Thiele is known as a writer of children’s and young adult stories, he has an ageless style which makes this story suitable for all. At 57 minutes playing time, this story could be enjoyed in one session.


Pannikin & Pinta, by Colin Thiele, read by Roger Cardwell
ABC Audio, 2003

Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories, by Cheryl Wright

The plethora of short story markets makes it a highly desirable form for any writer – established or novice. For many writers, however, the dream of writing saleable short stories proves far easier than the reality. Fine tuning an idea or plot outline into a polished short story is far harder than it appears.

In Think Outside the Square, Australian author Cheryl Wright guides writers through the short story process – from character, to plot idea, through to completed story and even marketing.

Wright, herself a successful and published author of short stories and articles (also published under the pen name Andrea Higgins-Wright), shares examples from her own stories, encouraging the reader every step of the way. Each section is backed up with exercises, making the book not just a how-to-write book, but an interactive writing workshop.

Readers will get most benefit from the book if they work through it one section at a time, reading what Wright has to say about each aspect of short story writing and studying her examples before trying the exercises for themselves. Readers who do this will finish the book with complete stories or, at least, plenty of outlines and ideas for stories of their own.

A great tool for any writer – either the novice, or the more experienced writer looking for some fresh inspiration.

Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories, by Cheryl Wright, 2003
Available from and

Joey the Roo, by Marion and Steve Isham


As Joey the Roo moves through his day, he counts the objects around him – from one to ten. A single sun shines outside his window, his clothes are in pairs, his toys are in threes and so on.


This is not a simple counting book however. Children will need some encouragement and interaction with Mum and Dad to see the pattern as on most pages the number being illustrated is not mentioned. On the ‘seven’ page, for example, Joey paints a rainbow – and the seven colours of the rainbow are listed, while on the ‘five’ page, he bakes star shaped biscuits, with five points on each.


The educational aspect of the text is supported with a list at the back of the book suggesting counting rhymes, songs and activities, most of which parents will be familiar with from their own childhoods.


A simple yet fun offering from Bandicoot Books.


Joey the Roo, by Marion & Steve Isham
Bandicoot Books, 2003

Great Australian Fishing Stories, by Paul B. Kidd

Every fisherman has a story to tell – usually about the size of the one that got away. Now, in Great Australian Fishing Stories, Paul Kidd shares some of his own fishing stories and others he has collected over a lifetime of fishing and story telling sessions.

From stories of outrageous cheating to win fishing competitions, to encounters with huge sharks and crocodiles, and urban myths and tall tales, Kidd takes the reader on an unrivalled fishing journey combining humour and excitement.

Great for a fisherman or anyone who likes stories with a larrikin twist.

Great Australian Fishing Stories, by Paul B. Kidd
ABC Books, 2003

Great Australian Droving Stories, by Bill 'Swampy' Marsh

Before utes, motorbikes, helicopters and planes, mustering and droving were done by men (and occasionally women) on horseback, who moved sheep and cattle vast distances in search of better feed or markets. Bill Marsh has spent time with these tough characters, listening to and recording their stories in one volume.

Great Australian Droving Stories brings together sixty stories of lives on the road as told to Bill by the drovers.

Whether you like a good yarn or are a keen observer of human nature and Australia’s culture, this is a fascinating compilation of adventure, humour and emotion.

Great Australian Droving Stories, by Bill “Swampy’ Marsh
ABC Books, 2003

Disordered Minds, by Minette Walters

When Howard Stamp, a disabled twenty year-old is found guilty of murdering his grandmother, no one is surprised and no one comes to his defence. Thirty years on, however, anthrooplogist and author Jonathan Hughes is keen to find out what really happened. He has found great discrepancies in the evidence and believes Stamp was wrongly convicted.

Working with an unlikely associate – a local councillor who has stumbled across Stamp’s case through conversations with a neighbour – Hughes works to clear Stamp’s name and bring the real murderer to justice.

Hughes faces numerous obstacles. But it is not the passage of time or the obstructiveness of some of the key players which proves most difficult. Rather, it is Hughes’ own past. Before he even begins his investigation he must fight the demons which threaten to overwhelm him.

Disordered Minds is an intriguing tale which makes novel use of form – with traditional narrative interspersed with emails, police reports and other documents. Walters has a reputation as an outstanding crime writer, and this title won’t disappoint.

Disordered Minds, by Minette Walters
Allen & Unwin, 2003

Australia's Toughest Golf Holes, by Tom Hepburn and Selwyn Jacobsen

Fancy some golf on a course scattered amongst the reefs of the Whitsundays? Or perhaps among sand dunes, gullies or rocky outcrops of some of Australia’s most unusual landscapes? If you are looking for a new golfing challenge, then Australia’s Toughest Golf Holes is the guide you will need.

Filled with breathtaking photos of these remarkable holes, as well as descriptions and playing tips, this would be a great guidebook for the golf tourist.

Of course, the whole book is a combination of photo-trickery and overdone silliness, but it’s fun anyway.

Golf enthusiasts will love it.

Australia’s Toughest Golf Holes, by Tom Hepburn and Selwyn Jacobsen
Pan Macmillan, 2003