Danny da Vinci – The giant Horse of Milan, by Bruce Whatley & Rosie Smith

Danny da Vinci always said he was born with a pencil in his hand. His mum thought it felt more like a broom!
From the moment Danny was born he drew pictures. Everywhere. Of all kinds of things. Not only with his right hand but with his left hand too.

Danny and his best friend Mick Angelo are apprentices, working in an art studio run by Danny’s Uncle Leo. Danny likes to draw and paint, Mick likes to carve and Danny’s dog, Picasso, likes eating paint, and slobbering on canvases in his sleep.

When Uncle Leo is asked to make a statue of the Duke of Milan, he calls on Danny and Mick for some help. The boys are excited to be given the opportunity but when a series of accidents befalls the statue, they wonder if it will be ready for the big unveiling.

Danny da Vinci: The Giant Horse of Milan is a fun new graphic novel for primary aged children, taking a humorous look at the life and times of Leonardo da Vinci. Using a combination of comic-style text boxes , colour images and da Vinci-style sketches, the story is a fictionalised, humorous account of the making of the Sforza Monument. Whilst history buffs will enjoy the plays on words and twisting of events, those without a knowledge of the great artist will also enjoy the story and the humour.

Lots of fun.

Danny da Vinci: The Giant Horse of Milan, by Bruce Whatley & Rosie Smith
ABC Books, 2007

The Watchmaker Who Saved Christmas, by Bruce Whatley

The days before Christmas had been quiet for the Watchmaker. Watches with faces and hands had been replaced by digital displays and flashing numbers. The Watchmaker felt sad.

Alone in his workshop, the Watchmaker does not expect to be visited by a mysterious Old Man. Nor does he expect to be given a task which might save Christmas. The Old Man has a special clock which needs fixing, and only some ingenuity will see the job done.

The Watchmaker Who Saved Christmas is a beautiful tale of friendship and perseverance, with a real message of Christmas spirit. Children will also love that it explains one of the mysteries of Christmas – how Santa manages to get right around the world in just one night.

Illustrator Bruce Whatley delights with stunningly detailed scenes which reflect the timeless feel of the story.


The Watchmaker Who Saved Christmas, by Bruce Whatley
Random House, 2006

The Smallest Bilby and the Midnight Star, by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley

Every night the smallest bilby looks up at the midnight sky and searches for his favourite star – the smallest one that hangs close to the edge of the sky. Every night she shines down on him. But one night, fearful that she may go away and never come back, the smallest bilby decides to give her something that will make her remember him forever and always.

The Littlest Bilby and the Midnight Star is a delightful offering for young children about the beauty of a simple kiss. Created by the talented, award-winning team of author Nette Hilton and illustrator Bruce Whatley, it is sure to please both little Australians and their parents, and would make a perfect bedtime story.

Whatley has used pen and ink wash on watercolour paper to create subdued, gentle illustrations appropriate to the night time setting of the story. The huge ears and the pink-tipped noses of the bilbies are very cute.

This beautiful offering is the first in of a trilogy featuring the Smallest Bilby and dedicated to Rose-Marie Dusting, who is recognised as the creator of the Easter Bilby concept.

The Smallest Bilby and the Midnight Star, by Nette Hilton and Bruce Whatley
Working Title Press, 2006

Noises at Night, by Beth Raisner Glass and Susan Lubner

When my room is dark and I snuggle in bed,
my eyes should be closed, but they’re open instead.
I hear noises at night, they float through my house –
The bark of a dog and the scratch of a mouse.

When he goes to bed, a little boy is kept awake by the noises of the night. A tap drrrroppp, drrroppps, a truck vrroooomm, vrroooomms outside in the street and thunder booom, boooms. But rather than being frightened, the boy lets his imagination take him on great adventures. The dripping sounds come from his sailing ship, the truck is really the boy’s plane, and the thunder is a drum roll for his trapeze act. Finally, though, all the noises settle down and the boy is able to sleep contentedly.

This gentle rhyming text will make perfect bed time reading, helping children confront night time fears in a fun way. The illustrations are equally delightful, with award-winning illustrator Bruce Whatley using acrylics to contrast the dark of the night with the light of the imagined scenes.

This a lovely hard-cover offering which will find a place in the hearts of youngsters and their parents.

Noises at Night, by Beth Raisner Glass and Susan Lubner, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
Omnibus Books, 2006

Mulga Bill's Bicycle and Other Classics, by A.B. Paterson, illustrated by Bruce Whatley

Whilst it is important that young Aussie readers are constantly offered new and contemporary reading material, it is also important that they are offered a glimpse into Australia’s literary heritage. This new release from ABC Books offers just that, with a nicely illustrated collection of the best of A. B. (Banjo) Paterson.

The collection includes both poems and short stories, and includes some that children may be familiar with – including Waltzing Matilda and Mulga Bill’s Bicycle and others which they are unlikely to have come across, including Weary Will and The Geebung Polo Club. There are offerings which offer an insight into Australia’s past, exploring rural life, transport, and more – including In the Droving Days and Arrival at Illalong – and others which kids will love for their humour – including The Bush Christening and The Man from Ironbark.

The black and white illustrations by Bruce Whatley bring the tales to life, using a combination of serious illustrations and comic-style humorous pictures. There is also a brief biography of Paterson.

This a collection which would be great for classroom and library collections, but would also be wonderful addition to any child’s home library.

Mulga Bill’s Bicycle and other Classics, by A. B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson, illustrated by Bruce Whatley
ABC Books, 2005

Too Many Pears! by Jackie French

Pamela the cow loves pears. She loves them so much she will stop at nothing to get to them – even if it means crawling through a wombat hole or towing a tree behind her.

Unfortunately, Pamela’s pear obsession means there are no pears left for the people. Something has to be done to stop Pamela eating all the pears.

Too Many Pears is the latest humorous offering from renowned author-illustrator team, Jackie French and Bruce Whatley. Like so many of French’s books, the story revolves around food and animals, yet, as always, this story is unique. Whatley’s illustrations bring the tale to life, with the cow’s facial expressions a true delight.


Too Many Pears, by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
Koala Books, 2003

Six White Boomers

If you are an Australian parent then there is a good chance that you grew up singing Six White Boomers at Christmas time. This song, and the legendary singer Rolf Harris, have been a art of Christmas in Australia since 1960. This Christmas you can share the magic with your children.

Rolf Harris and Scholastic Australia (under its Margaret Hamilton imprint) have combined to produce the song lyrics in a beautiful picture book with accompanying compact disc.

The book includes the full lyrics to the song, written by Rolf and his friend John D. Brown, with watercolour illustrations by Bruce Whatley bringing the song to life.

The CD includes a recording of the song so that you and your young ones can sing along with Rolf. And, if you want more, there are two bonus Rolf Harris tracks – Christmas in the Sun and Pavlova

An introduction at the beginning of the book explains how Rolf came to write the song. he explains that he was always amazed to hear Australian sing songs about snow and icicles in the middle of Australian, and so set out to write a song more appropriate to our climate and culture. The longevity of this song’s success indicates that he struck a chord with fellow Aussies.

Every Australian child deserves a copy of this book – one of the few Christmas songs written especially for Australian children. Friends and relatives overseas may also enjoy this piece of Australiana.

Six White Boomers by Rolf Harris and Bruce Whatley
A Margaret Hamilton Book from Scholastic Australia, 2001