Letters to Santa, by Andrew Daddo, ill Michelle Pike

Dear Santa
Would you be a grizzle guts if you’d slept through every Christmas? I thought so. I always miss the food!
So I’d like an alarm clock set for dinnertime.
Even better, can you bring the dinner, too?
Thanks, Santa. I promise not to grumble at you. GB

Christmas is coming and, just like every year, letters to Santa are being written. But this year is different – because this tear the letters are from the animals of the world, and they have their own special lists of wants. The Grizzly bear (GB), for example, wants to be woken for Christmas dinner, while the Aussie roo wants some sunglasses for the glare of headlights on the highway.

This solid novelty format picture book is interactive, with each letter in an envelope reminiscent of its country of origin. Letters are slid out of the envelopes, but remain cleverly attached meaning they won’t be lost and are printed on solid card making them difficult to tear. The illustrations are bright and humorous, and there is plenty to explore from the postage stamp endpapers right to a surprise illustration on the back of book imprint page.

Plenty of Christmas fun here, this one will please kids aged four to eight, and possibly older.

Letters to Santa, by Andrew Daddo, ill Michelle Pike
Scholastic, 2008

A Bush Christmas, by CJ Dennis, ill by Dee Huxley

The sun burns hotly thro’ the gums
As down the road old Rogan comes –
The hatter from the lonely hut
Beside the track to Woollybutt.
He likes to spend his Christmas with us here.
He says a man gets sort of strange
Living alone without a change,
Gets sort of settled in his way;
And so he comes each Christmas day
To share a bite of tucker and a beer.

Whilst in recent years there have a wonderful range of children’s book offerings which attempt to reflect what Christmas is like in Australia, in 1931, when CJ Dennis wrote A Bush Christmas, Christmas traditions were still largely influenced by Northern Hemisphere practises. Dennis attempted, through his humorous poem, to paint a picture of an Outback Christmas, with families struggling with heat, and the hardships of rural life. The family in the poem share Christmas with a lonely neighbour, and enjoy his tales of Christmas in colder climes, which seem so far removed from what they have.

In this delightful picture book offering, illustrator Dee Huxley brings the classic poem to life with beautiful, whimsical pastel illustrations, capturing the humour of the tale and the rustic quality of the location.

This is a wonderful offering, combining a classic poem with the illustrative work of a popular contemporary illustrator and would make a great Christmas gift for any age.

A Bush Christmas, by C.J. Dennis, illustrated by Dee Huxley
Black Dog, 2008

Santa's Aussie Holiday Activity Book

Each year Santa likes to have some fun
a chance to get some rest and sun;
he spins his globe for inspiration
and finds a perfect destination…

Following on from the release of the picture book Santa’s Aussie Holiday, Christmas 2008 sees the release of a companion activity book. With a range of Christmas activities, some of which are completed in the book, and others for which the book includes instructions, there is plenty to keep kids busy before and after Christmas.

Activities include dot to dots, puzzles and writing activities, as well as things to make including an origami penguin and homemade Christmas biscuits.

Sure to be a favourite are the centre of book stickers – there are eighty plus of them featuring Santa, reindeer, sleighs, utes, kangaroos and more. There is also a colour double spread with which to create a sticker scene.

This would make a lovely Christmas present, or a pre Christmas treat.

Santa’s Aussie Holiday Activity Book, by Maria Farrer and Anna Walker
Scholastic, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas, by Heath McKenzie

My true love is an adventurer. Whenever he is away from home, he sends me cards and little notes about the places he’s been. When he asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I said, ‘Surprise me.’
What a mistake!

When your true love sends you a peacock up a palm tree on the first day of Christmas, it should set a few alarm bells ringing. The true love in this humorous offering follows up with two toucans, three polar bears, four rhinos reading and more, in a parade of animal gifts for his dearest.

As well as filling the pages with bright and humorous animal illustrations, author/illustrator Heath McKenzie also offers an interactive element in the from of removable letters, postcards, brochures and more, inserted between every second spread. Younger children will enjoy the bright illustrations and text, whilst older children will enjoy these extra elements.

Whilst the Twelve Days of Christmas song has been reworked on many occasions, this is an original take on the concept, with the novelty element a real delight.

An excellent Christmas gift.

The Twelve Days of Christmas: 1 Man, 12 Days, 78 Gifts, by Heath McKenzie
Black Dog Books, 2008

Santa's Aussie Holiday, by Maria Farrer & Anna Walker

Each year Santa likes to have some fun,
a chance to get some rest and sun;
he spins his globe for inspiration
and finds the perfect destination…

We all know that Santa lives amidst the ice and snow at the North Pole, but when Christmas is over he deserves a little rest, so he heads down to Australia for some fun. His reindeer are left at the Australia Zoo while he tours the country, surfing, scuba diving and more.

Santa’s Aussie Holiday sees Santa touring Australia, from the Great Barrier Reef to Rottnest Island, as he takes a well-earned break in the days after Christmas. The illustrations emphasise the whimsy of the piece, with little details such as the pink galahs in the grasses near Uluru, and the emu and its chicks running alongside Santa’s ute, providing plenty for the reader to discover.

A fun offering with rhyming text and a true-blue Aussie feel, this would make a lovely Christmas gift for a child aged three to six.

Santa’s Aussie Holiday, by Maria Farrer and Anna Walker
Scholastic, 2007

An Aussie Night Before Christmas Pops Up, by Kilmeny Niland & Yvonne Morrison

’twas the night before Christmas
there wasn’t a sound.
Not a possum was stirring;
no-one was around.

Since it was first published in 2005, An Aussie Night Before Christmas has been one of Australia’s most popular Christmas offerings. Now this title is available in a pop up format, certain to delight young Aussies.

With the text an Australianised version of Clement Moore’s famous A Night Before Christmas, the book is filled with Australian images – from Santa arriving in a ute, to thongs, farm dogs and gum trees. The pop up elements are delightful, including the outback house, a big Christmas tree, kangaroos with wagging tails and Santa sliding down the aforementioned gum tree.

This would make a great Christmas gift, appealing to kids aged 2 to 8, though as with any pop up book, the smallest readers may find the pop ups just too tempting.

An Aussie Night Before Christmas Pops Up, by Kilmeny Niland and Yvonne Morrison
Scholastic, 2007

Fair Dinkum Aussie Christmas, by Bucko and Champs

We wish you a ripper Christmas
A full-bore ripper Christmas
A dead-set ripper Christmas
And a snappy New Year.

Like it or not, Christmas is coming, and it won’t be long before you start hearing Christmas songs playing in shopping centres, schools, and even your home. This year, instead of singing of snow and sleigh rides, how about focussing instead on Australian traditions such as barbecues, fire trucks and utes?

In Fair Dinkum Aussie Christmas, Bucko and Champs (aka Colin Buchanan and Greg Champion) share ten uniquely Australian Christmas songs, many sung to familiar tunes. From Deck the Shed With Bits of Wattle and We Wish You a Ripper Christmas (see excerpt above), to Australians Let Us Barbecue, sung to the tune of the national anthem, there is plenty here to tickle the funny bone of Aussies young and old, and, importantly, to get them singing along. The accompanying CD means there’s no excuse for not joining in, and the blokey voices of Bucko and Champs mean there are no high notes to strain for.

Presented as a hardcover picture book, with colourful, humorous illustrations by Kilmeny Niland, this is a durable offering which will last many Christmas seasons and become a family favourite. It is also suitable for school use, especially for teachers searching for something different for end of year assembly items. Beaut stuff.

Fair Dinkum Aussie Christmas, by Bucko and champs, illustrated by Kilmeny Niland
Scholastic, 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

Aussie Jingle Bells, by Colin Buchanan and Nick Bland

Dashing through the bush, in a rusty Holden ute,
Kicking up the dust, esky in the boot.
Kelpie by my side, singing Christmas songs,
It’s summertime and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongs.

The words to this one will be familiar to most Australians – Aussie Jingle Bells has been sung at concerts, Christmas pageants and more for several years. Now, though, singer Colin Buchanan (who some will recognise from Playschool) teams with illustrator Nick Bland, to present the song in a hardback picturebook format, with plenty of Aussie scenery and a CD recording of the song.

This is a wonderful Christmas treat which kids and parents alike will enjoy for years.

Aussie Jingle Bells, by Colin Buchanan and Nick Bland
Scholastic Press, 2006

The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Heath McKenzie

With shops full of tinsel and presents, it’s pretty obvious Christmas is on its way. But there’s a catch. Alongside the tinsel and lights, are scenes of snow, plum puddings and all the trappings of a Northern Hemisphere style Christmas. Here in Australia, Christmas usually entails cooling down and trying to escape the heat as we celebrate this special event in the midst of our summer.

The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas, puts an Aussie slant on the old song, with partridges and maids a milking replaced with a kookaburra up a gum tree, wombats, possums and, of course, flies.

Accompanying the humorous text are colourful, funny illustrations with illustrator Heath McKenzie interpreting them in a unique way. The seven possums playing are in front of the TV with Playstations, and the six sharks are swimming in paddle pools.

This is a fun Christmas offering which will appeal to Aussie kids, but would also make a novel gift for overseas friends and family.

The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas, illustrated by Heath McKenzie
Black Dog Books, 2006