Cronin's Key Guide Australian Reptiles and Frogs

Australia is home to some 760 species of reptiles and 200 frogs. Among them are the largest and most fearsome predator on earth – the estuarine crocodile; the world’s deadliest snake – the mainland taipan; a lizard that walks on water – the beaded gecko; and an amphibian from the harshest deserts – the water-holding frog.

The Cronin’s’ Key Guide series provides an accessible guide to identifying the wildlife of Australia. In the fifth title of the series, Australian Reptiles and Frogs , biologist Leonard Cronin provides detailed species identification notes, including a coloured drawing, distribution maps and notes on appearance, behaviour, development, habitat and any threats to the species.

A useful field guide for a traveller or bushwalker, this would also make an excellent family reference.

Cronin's Key Guide to Australian Reptiles and Frogs (Cronin's Key Guide)

Cronin’s Key Guide to Australian Reptiles and Frogs (Cronin’s Key Guide), by Leonard Cronin
Allen & Unwin, 2009

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The Harp in the South, by Ruth Park

This was the place where the Darcys lived – Plymouth Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, in an unlucky house which the landlord had renumbered from thirteen to Twelve-and-a-Half.
It was the oldest in Plymouth Street, a cranky brown house, with a blistered green door, and a step worn into dimples and hollows that collected the rain in little pools in which Roie and Dolour, when little, had always expected to find frogs.

The Harp in the South is the story of the Irish Catholic Darcy family, living in the slums of inner Sydney in the post war era. Mumma and Hughie and their teenage daughters Dolour and Roie are poor and face a daily struggle to survive, yet they are a family, and, in their own way, able to find some happiness.

In the course of the novel Roie meets her first beau, Tommy, and learns lessons about love, and Dolour grows from a surly child to a blossoming teen. Mumma, meanwhile, lives with the sadness caused by the disappearance of her only son ten years before, and also nurses her mother through her final months. Hughie, the man of the family, is an alcoholic, and unreliable, but his love for his family shows through during tough moments. The Darcy’s neighbours also feature in the story – their lodgers, Patrick Diamond and Miss Sheily with a disabled son Johnnie, as well as Lick Jimmy, the fruiterer from next door, all have their own challenges and foibles.

Whilst there is a sequential plot, this is more of a snapshot of life (and love in its many forms) in the Sydney slums than it is a single story. Readers will connect with, and cheer for, the characters and emerge wanting to know more.

The Harp in the South was first published in 1948 and has been continuously in print ever since. In its newest incarnation, it forms part of the Popular penguins imprint.

The Harp in the South (Popular Penguins)

The Harp in the South (Popular Penguins), by Ruth Park
This edition Penguin 2009

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

The Merry-Go-Round By the Sea, by Randolph Stow

The boy looked down from the sky. He looked down on Rick holding open the gate, and closing it while Goldie waited. He looked down on Rick walking ahead in the road, being nudged now and then by Goldie’s nose, but not turning. The hairs on the back of Rick’s neck were golden. Two crows were crying in the sky, and everything was asleep. The day, the summer, would never end. He would walk behind Rick, he would study Rick forever.

Six year old Rob Coram lives in Geraldton, Western Australia, far away from the war raging in Europe and the Pacific. But when his much-loved cousin, Rick, goes away to fight in that war, it suddenly becomes much more real and personal. As the war drags on, Rob longs for Rick to come home. When Rick, returns, though, he is different, and Rob struggles to maintain the closeness he once felt.

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea provides a glimpse into family life in war-time Australia, and will especially evoke a sense of the familiar in Western Australian readers. It is also a coming-of-age novel, showing Rob’s growth through his childhood and into his teens, whilst his cousin, made a man in his desperate survival as a prisoner of war, seems to regress and to appear younger back in the world of his childhood.

With a cast of aging aunts and grandmothers, fathers and uncles who seem to play only small roles in Rob’s childhood, younger cousins and childhood friends, Rob’s life rolls through the six years of this tale, with childhood scenes of humour and adventure, interspersed with sadness and tension.

First published in 1965 and reprinted numerous times, The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea has now been rereleased as part of the popular Penguins series, allowing it be rediscovered by past fans and uncovered by a new generation of readers.

The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea , by Randolph Stow
This edition Penguin, 2009