Wombat Stew, by Marcia K. Vaughan, illustrated by Pamela Lofts

One fine day, on the banks of a billabong, a very clever dingo caught a wombat…
and decided to make…
Wombat stew,
Wombat stew,
Gooey, brewy,
Yummy, chewy,
Wombat stew!

Of course the poor Wombat isn’t very keen to be made into stew, but his clever friends have a sneaky way to help outwit Dingo. Each friend tells Dingo he is missing an essential ingredient for his stew, so soon Dingo is adding mud, feathers, flies, bugs and more. But, when he tastes the stew, he thinks he’s been poisoned and hurries away leaving Wombat and his friends celebrating.

This classic Australian picture book was first launched twenty one years ago and, to celebrate, has just been re-released by Scholastic Australia. The rhythmic text and the repetition of the ‘Wombat Stew’ chant make it very appealing to young readers, who will join in on the first or second read. Pamela Lofts’ illustrations are a delight, with amusing yet somehow lifelike Australian animals peppering the pages. Even the mean Dingo is cute and dopey rather than scarey.

Loads of fun.

Wombat Stew, by Marcia K Vaughan and Pamela Lofts
Scholastic, 2005

Wombat Divine, by Mem Fox

Wombat loved Christmas. He loved the carols and the candles, the presents and the pudding, but most of all he loved the Nativity Play.

When Wombat goes to the auditions for the Nativity, he tries out for every part – from the Archangel Gabriel to the Three Kings, and even Mary. But someone else is chosen for every part, because Wombat is too big or too heavy, or too short or too sleepy. Finally, just when it looks like Wombat is going to miss out completely, Bilby has an excellent idea. Wombat could be the Baby Jesus. When the night of the play comes, everyone is nervous, except Wombat. He plays his part to perfection – even falling asleep.

Wombat Divine is a touching Christmas story from one of Australia’s best known picture book authors, Mem Fox. The richly coloured illustrations, by well-known artist Kerry Argent, bring the Australian animals to life in a perfect complement to the tale.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary since the book was published, Scholastic have produced a special edition with metallic highlights on the cover.


Wombat Divine, by Mem Fox, illustrated by Kerry Argent
Omnibus Books, an imprint of Scholastic Australia
First Published 1995, this edition 2005

Rex Hunt's Fishing Australia

The king of Australian fishing, Rex Hunt, is well-known not just for kissing his catch, but for his down to earth, practical guides to fishing in Australia. In this offering, he presents his favourite fishing spots around Australia, from Port Phillip Bay in Victoria, to Dirk Hartog Island off the Western Australian coast and Cape York.

For each fishing district, Hunt shares stories of his own fishing adventures, as well as loads of practical advice on how to best fish that location. There is also a guide to how to get there, the best time of year to fish there, the type of fish to be caught there and the best gear to use. The book is also filled with colour photographs – of Rex and his acquaintances with their prize catches, and of the scenery of the various destinations.

This is a no nonsense guide which will appeal to all anglers and would make a wonderful Christmas gift.

Rex Hunt’s Fishing Australia
Macmillan, first published 2004, this editon 2005

Tales of Deltora, by Emily Rodda

This book of tales contains the secret history of Deltora. That is a startling claim, I know, but it is true.With these words, Josef, the Palace librarian, begins this magnificent volume, a boon for fans of the Deltora Quest series. Presented in large format hard cover, this is a collector’s item which provides the history of Deltora prior to the events of the fifteen books of the Deltora Quest series.

Deltora fans will learn about the origins of the Shadow Lord and the Ak-Baba and about the Masked Ones. They will also read about how Adin collected the gems which make up the Belt of Deltora. There are nineteen tales here, providing background history and recounting Adin’s adventures as he collects the gems. Each story is self-contained, but are best enjoyed in order, as the plot builds on previous tales.

This history is gorgeously complemented by full colour plates illustrated by Marc McBride. Filled with dragons and the other mythical creatures of Deltora, each is finely detailed and lavishly coloured.

Fans of the Deltora series will be delighted with this new offering. Those who’ve not yet read the series will be inspired to do so.

Tales of Deltora, by Emily Rodda, illustrated by Marc McBride
Scholastic, 2005

The Usual Suspect, by Duncan McNab

Over a busy 60-year career, Australia came to know him as a rogue with a dismal reputation, an alleged corrupter of police, politicians and perhaps even the very moral fabric of Australian society. Well, that’s one side of the story.
The other is that he was one of the most successful self-made men in Australia…A man whose work in Sydney’s King’s Cross saw him celebrated by the areas long-term residents, and respected by his friends, business associates and visiting entertainers, and even by a handful of cynical old senior police.

Abe Saffron has been given all kinds of labels and titles, most of them unflattering – including ‘Mr Sin’ and ‘Gomorrah himself’, a moniker given using parliamentary privilege. But amongst those who know him, he has also been seen as a successful businessman, family man, and supporter of charity. In this detailed look at the life and career of Saffron, journalist and former policeman Duncan McNab explores the man who has attracted so much attention in spite of his attempts to stay out of the limelight.

McNab draws on a range of material, from the records of court appearances and Royal Commissions, to newspapers and personal recollections of people from Saffron’s past to create a detailed and insightful account.

The Usual Suspect: The Life of Abe Saffron, by Duncan McNab
Macmillan, 2005

An Accidental Terrorist, by Steven Lang

When Kelvin takes the wrong road heading out of Melbourne, he ends up in Eden, the town he was born in. Now, though, he doesn’t belong and doesn’t particularly want to. He takes a job planting trees then finds himself staying with a group of hippies. He is drawn to the beautifully Jessica, a would-be writer who is passionate about the environment, and soon finds himself caught up in the anti-logging movement. The drama builds as characters with much to hide work against each other with devastating consequences.

An Accidental Terrorist is an exciting debut novel, set in rural New South Wales in the early 1980s. Whilst it gathers pace in the second half, it is not immediately obvious that this is a book moving towards very dramatic moments – but that is the pleasure of it. There is plenty of time to get to know the flawed yet intriguing characters who populate its pages, to explore their relationships and to be drawn into the events as they unfold.

An Accidental Terrorist was the winner of the Queensland Premier’s Literary Award for Best Manuscript from an Emerging Queensland Author in 2004. Readers will look forward to more quality offerings from Steven Lang.

An Accidental Terrorist, by Steven Lang
UQP, 2005

How to Catch a Fish, by J.D. Thornton

Recreational fishing is an important activity for about 3.36 million Australians, and many of those keen anglers are children. Scholastic has something special to offer those youngsters, with How to Catch a Fish, a snappy little offering full of tips, hints and sensible information for any child who wants to take up fishing.

Covering subjects from choosing a fishing spot, to selecting and assembling gear and on to cooking your catch, this is an easily accessible guide written in kid-friendly language and using plenty of diagrams, including a four page full colour guide to identifying the most common Australian fish species.

This is the first instalment in Scholastic’s new 99.9% Guaranteed Guide series, and would be a handy Christmas gift, with the summer holidays coming up.

How to Catch a Fish, by J.D. Thornton
Scholastic, 2005

There Where the Pepper Grows, by Bem Le Hunte

There is no sense of any tragedy looming, even though the Germans are moving into the house of the wealthiest Jew, just down the street…Things will be just the same as they always were—so we are assured by the elderly of Piaski.

When Nazis invade Poland, Benjamin is forced into hiding with his wife and her child, Benjamin’s adopted son Daniel. After a dramatic escape from a concentration camp, the trio undertake a risky trek across the country and into Russia, before reaching Japan and being helped to find passage to Palestine. When the boat they are travelling on has engine problems, they find themselves stranded in Calcutta and it is in this city that they find a home and an unlikely sense of belonging.

There Where the pepper Grows is a moving historical story of a family affected not just by war, but by religious persecution. Set amidst the backdrop of World War II and its aftermath, including the movement towards India’s independence from Britain, this is much more than one family’s story. Rather, it is a tale of survival and of humanity, and a lesson in the need for tolerance and understanding.

The author, Bem Le Hunte, uses her own experiences – she was born in India – and those of relatives and other real people, to build the stories of Benjamin and Daniel.

A gripping and humbling read.

There Where the Pepper Grows, by Bem Le Hunte
Harper Collins, 2005