Hop up! Wriggle over! by Elizabeth Honey

Hop up, wiggle over, wakey wakey, HUNGRY!
Crunch crunch, gobble gobble, lick lick, MORE!

So begins this beautiful little movement and sound filled offering for early childhood audiences. This unconventional animal family – Mum is a koala, Dad a big red kangaroo, and the nine children include a wombat, an echidna, a bilby and more – move through the day joyfully, from wake up till bedtime.

The text is minimal – just four words or phrases per spread, being the sounds the animals mutter (sploosh! boing…boing) or the occasional word such as yum yum! and a joyful Dad-dee! when Dad arrives at the park where the children are playing. Illustrations, in watercolour with pencil outlines are pastel-toned colours of the Australian bush, with white backgrounds and lots of fun detail for youngsters to discover. Movement is depicted with a few well placed lines, and the joy of the family is evident in their faces.

A joyful celebration of families and of Aussie animals.

Hop Up! Wriggle Over!, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2015
ISBN 9781743319987

Available from good bookstores and online.

Of Poetry Collections

I’ve been pondering poetry of late, particular poetry for children, inspired both by some study I’m doing and by the rediscovery of some of the poems of my childhood, including that of A. A.  Milne, some of the earliest poetry I remember loving  (along with Dr Seuss).

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is that makes a poem, the different forms used, and the ways that poetry is collected.  The poetry I’ve been sampling is pretty varied – from Blake, to Ted Hughes,  to AA Milne , to Michael Rosen and more. And, of course, because I’m a proud Aussie, I’ve been revisiting some of my favourite Australian poets. Which has reminded me that there aren’t a lot of children’s poetry books published in Australia, particularly single author collections. For now I’m not going to attempt to analyse why – that’s perhaps a whole series of blog posts.  Instead, I thought I’d start with a list of the poetry collections published in recent years. Initially I looked for those published in t past 5 years, and asked friends on Twitter and Facebook to help.  I ended up with a few titles that were more than five years, but in order to prevent the list being too depressingly short, I’ve kept those in.

So, here it is, my list of single-poet poetry collections for children published in recent years.  I’m hoping I’ve missed some, and that this post will draw some comments from those who remember what I and my friends haven’t.

From Lorraine Marwood:

A Ute Picnic (Walker Books, 2010)

Note on the Door (Walker Books 2011)

Guinea Pig Town  and Other Animal Poems (Walker Books, 2013)

Redback Mansion (Five Islands Press, 2002)


Elizabeth Honey

Mongrel Doggerel (Allen & Unwin, 1998)

The Moon in the Man (Allen & Unwin, 2002)

Honey Sandwich   (Allen & Unwin, 1993)

I’m Still Awake Still  (Allen & Unwin, 2008)


Steven Herrick

Untangling Spaghetti (UQP, 2008)


Doug McLeod

 Sister Madge’s Book of Nuns (most recently Working Title Press, 2012)


Colin Thompson

 There’s something really nasty on the bottom of my shoe (Hodder, 2003)

My Brother Drinks Out Of The Toilet (Hodder, 2000)

The Dog’s Just Been Sick in the Honda (Hodder, 1999)


Meredith Costain

Doodledum Dancing (Penguin, 2006)


Anne Bell

Muster Me a Song (Triple D Books, 2002)


Christobel Mattingley

Nest Egg: A Clutch of Poems (Triple D Books, 2005)


Max Fatchen

Poetry Allsorts (Triple D Books,  2003)


Andrew Lansdown

Allsorts: Poetry Tricks and Treats (Wombat Books)


Rosemary Milne

There’s a Goat in My Coat (Allen & Unwin, 2010)

Duncan Ball

My Sister Has a Big Black Beard (Harper Collins, 2009)

Michelle A. Taylor

If the World Belonged to Dogs (UQP, 2007)


Janeen Brian

By Jingo! (ABC Books, 2005)


Geoffrey McSkimming

Ogre in a Toga (Scholastic, 2007)

John Hay-Mackenzie

Cautionary tales for boys and girls (Murdoch Books, 2009)


Jill McDougall

Anna the goanna: and other poems (Aboriginal Studies Press, 2008)


So, have I missed any? If you know of any single poet collections published in Australia in recent years, do drop me a line and I’ll add them. I haven’t included verse novels here, because I’m intending to compose a separate list of these, and perhaps also  of anthologies.

I'm Still Awake, Still, by Elizabeth Honey & Sue Johnson

‘I’m still awake, still!’ called Fiddy.
‘Not tired, little Fiddy?’ said Parlo. ‘When I can’t sleep I dream up something wondrous and sing about it in my head. Try that, little Fiddy.’

Fiddy is a busy little boy so, when bedtime comes, he finds it hard to get to sleep. Marlo tries reading him a story, and Parlo tells him to sing a song in his head. But Fiddy is still awake. His family are busy downstairs, so Parlo seeks help from the animals and flowers. Eventually, it is Nonno’s song, and his patience, which lull Fiddy off to sleep.

I’m Still Awake, Still is more than a bedtime story, though it is certainly that. Accompanying the tale, illustrated by Elizabeth Honey, is a CD recording of the songs which feature in the story, written by Honey and singer/composer Sue Johnson, from band Coco’s Lunch. The story is also read aloud by Honey on the CD, and the lyrics of the songs are printed on the endpapers of the book.

There is much to be discovered here, and enjoyed on different levels and at different times. One could imagine the CD, for example, being played at rest time either at home or in a childcare setting.

A lovely offering.

I'm Still Awake, Still!

I’m Still Awake, Still, by Elizabeth Honey and Sue Johnson
Allen & Unwin, 2008

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

To The Boy in Berlin, by Elizabeth Honey & Heike Brandt

A postcard from Leo Schmidt?
I can’t believe it!
I’m trying to solve the mystery of a boy called Leopold Schmidt who migrated to Australia years ago. Leopold is long dead, but this new Leo is very much alive (and kicking).

When Henni leaves a note in a box of old books under a house, she doesn’t really expect it to be answered by someone living on the other side of the world. But in a curious set of coincidences, the note she left for anyone related to Leopold Schmidt was found by the uncle of thirteen year old Leo, who lives in Germany. Soon, Leo and Henni are exchanging emails, trying to unravel the mystery of Leopold. Then there are the dramas of their own lives, which they share with each other in a way more honest and intimate than if they lived in the same town.

To the Boy in Berlin is a funny, but also sad and insightful story, told from the dual perspectives of Henni and Leo, through their exchanged emails. Each character’s emails have actually been written by a different author, in an unusual collaboration between Australian author Elizabeth Honey and her German translator, Heike Brandt. The idea was developed long distance, but fleshed out when Brandt was able to visit Australia.

The character of Henni will be familiar to fans of Honey’s work, having earlier appeared in titles including The Ballad of Cauldron Bay and Fiddle Back. The addition of a second viewpoint character and the novelty of the email format will delight fans of the earlier books, but this new offering also stands alone.

Great reading for 10 to 14 year old readers.

To the Boy in Berlin

To The Boy In Berlin, by Elizabeth Honey and Heike Brandt
Allen & Unwin, 2007

This book is available online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Audiobook Review: Don't Pat the Wombat! by Elizabeth Honey

When grade six gets to go on a camp to a pioneering village, Mark and his mates are rapt. No school and no parents for a whole week. But, best of all, they get to escape from the teacher they call the Bomb, who has it in for Jonah, one of Mark’s mates. But when one of the teachers on camp falls ill, guess who they send as replacement? With the Bomb there, the whole camp could be ruined.

Don’t Pat the Wombat is a fun story which deals with serious issues of friendship, victimisation and adult alcoholism, but in author Elizabeth Honey’s hands, these serious issues are dealt with using humour and loads of interest, to engage readers without trivialising the issues.

This audio book version is read by Damon Herriman, whose reading brings the first person narration of Mark to life, and gives life to the character and his tale.

Good stuff.

Don’t Pat the Wombat!, text by Elizabeth Honey, reading by Damon Herriman
ABC Audio, 2006

The Ballad of Cauldron Bay, by Elizabeth Honey

Henni is back. First seen in 45 & 47 Stella Street, and later in Fiddle-back, this third book has all the laughs and growing pains that can be expected from author Elizabeth Honey.

When Tibor is offered the use of a house at remote Cauldron Bay for the Easter holidays, he invites his friends from Stella Street to come along. Henni can’t wait to get there, but it takes time to negotiate who is going and for how long. Still, like all good things the holiday finally begins and is going just great, until Tara comes along to ruin it.

Tara is sophisticated and very into boys. She’s come on holiday because things are not going well at home. Tara doesn’t do things the way Henni and her friends do, and Henni is not happy about her holiday being wrecked by this intruder. She is learning that not everything goes to plan and that being a teenager is complicated.

The Ballad of Cauldron Bay sees Henni growing from a child into a teenager. As with the earlier books, Henni acts as narrator, recounting the tale in a chatty-first person style which is complemented with the pictures she draws both to explain and for simple illustration. This time round Henni has a new computer on which to compose her story. She has given her computer a name (Byron) and addresses him directly within the story, reminding the reader of her youth and her presence as a narrator telling a story in retrospect.

In true Honey style, The Ballad of Cauldron Bay is a delightful mix of humour and drama, of issues and dilemmas and of poetic language. An outstanding read.

The Ballad of Cauldron Bay, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2004

Honey Bunch, by Elizabeth Honey

If you are under twelve (or have kids under that age) and haven’t heard of Elizabeth Honey, then you’ve been missing out. Honey is one of Australia’s funniest and best author/illustrators. Her work includes picture books, novels and poetry for a range of ages, all with her whimsical illustrations and unique humour.

In Honey Bunch, three of Honey’s bestselling children’s novels are brought together in one volume. This should be enough Honey to keep any fan satisfied and to get any reader new to Honey’s books hooked.

In 45 & 47 Stella street and Everything That Happened, strangers move in to Henni’s neighbourhood. But these aren’t any old strangers – they’re strange strangers. They keep to themselves and actively discourage the neighbours from getting to know them. Henni and her friends think something is wrong.

In Don’t Pat the Wombat, grade six gets to go on school camp. Everything would be great, if it weren’t for the grumpy teacher known as The Bomb, and his tendency to pick on Jonah. Mark and his friends are not impressed.

In What Do You Think, Feezal, the final story in the book, Bean moves to Sydney with her parents. She lives in a luxury penthouse on the top of a magnificent building and has everything a girl could want – well, almost everything. What bean really wants is a dog and some time with her parents. Will she get either?

Honey Bunch is suitable for eight to twelve year old readers.

Honey Bunch, by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2002

The Moon in the Man, by Elizabeth Honey

Rhyming is fun. Kids love the magic of a poem – whether it tells a story, plays with a rhythm or simply explores the fun of words.

The Moon in the Man is a magical new collection of poetry from Elizabeth Honey, which kids will adore, and parents and teachers will love reading and sharing.

Full of fun and simple rhymes and finger plays, accompanied by bright colourful illustrations, the book will help students to enjoy and improvise with language.

Poems include short whimsical rhymes and loads of finger plays complete with diagrams to show the actions. And if these aren’t enough you can see Elizabeth Honey performing these rhymes on the net at www.allenandunwin.com/moonintheman.asp.

If that is not enough, there are also longer poems perfect for clapping, clicking or tapping along to, building on children’s love of rhythm, and, to finish the books, a couple of quieter, reflective ones.

This is poetry collection which should have a place in every kindergarten, playgroup, child care centre and school, but which is also perfect for sharing at home. Children will love to come back to their favourite rhymes over and over, and will quickly start to memorise the words and read the poems along with you. The poems are also excellent for creative writing sessions, with easily repeatable patterns which children could use to add on extra verses.

Elizabeth Honey is a prize-winning author of novels, poetry and picture books, with a style and energy of her own. Her last picture book Not a Nibble! was the Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year in 1997.The Moon in the Man continues her tradition of excellence.

The Moon in the Man, written and illustrated by Elizabeth Honey
Allen & Unwin, 2002.