Lizzie Nonsense, by Jan Ormerod

When Papa takes the sandalwood he has cut into town, it is fifty miles along sand tracks, and he will be away a long time.
Then Lizzie and Mama and baby are all alone in the little house in the bush.

Alone in the bush with her mother and baby brother for months on end, Lizzie must entertain herself – and she does. With her imagination she creates weddings and parties, oceans and churches. Her mother fondly calls it ‘nonsense’ but Lizzie knows her mother likes nonsense too.

Lizzie Nonsense is a charming look at the experience of pioneering families in the Australian bush. Lizzie’s carefree nature makes light of the hardhips that she and her mother face, with hard work, low rations, snakes and isolation all there for contemporary readers to see.

Jan Ormerod’s illustrations, using a combination of crayon, watercolour and gouache, complement the historical nature of the story and are simply delightful. The cover illustration, showing Lizzie sitting on the limb of a gum tree and looking into the distance, yet directly at the reader, provides a nice link between past and present, as if Lizzie is waiting to share her story with the reader.

Lizzie Nonsense is perfect for sharing at home, but would also make an excellent classroom tool, especially for themes relating to history.

Lizzie Nonsense, by Jan Ormerod
Little Hare, 2004

Valley of Gold, by Jackie French

From the time the Earth was formed four billion years ago, until the present day, Valley of Goldtraces the story of one valley – the Araluen Valley, where author Jackie French has lived for most of her life.

Although the valley is real, the stories in Valley of Gold are fictional, because, as French says, if the neighbours recognise themselves they might throw stones at my windows. Although they aren’t true, the stories could have happened and the characters could have existed, because each story is set in a different period of the valley’s history.

From the hunting of the last ‘tiger’ in 35 000 BC, to the discovery of gold in 1853 and on to French’s own golden discoveries in more recent times, each story gives the young reader some insight into life in the valley in the time period in question, as well as a more general awareness of Australian life in those times.

Valley of Gold is great for personal reading, but would also make an excellent classroom resource, especially for classes learning about Gold mining, Australian history, conservation and other topics.

Valley of Gold, by Jackie French
Angus & Robertson (an imprint of Harper Collins), 2003