Koala, by Claire Saxby & Julie Vivas

In a high tree fork, a grey ball unfurls. Tall as a toddler, a dozy young koala sniffs at leaves. … Climb, little Koala,
it’s dinner time.

Following the adventures of one young koala as it becomes time for him to separate from his mother and find his own way in the world, Koala is a wonderful blend of narrative and fact. Koala must overcome hunger, predators, natural disasters, and even other koalas before, finally, he finds a new home where he can live safely.

Part of the wonderful nature Storybooks series, Koala uses narrative non-fiction to trace the life of a fictional koala, grounded in fact, and supported on each spread by additional facts. The text is lyrical, making it accessible and a joy to read, and the illustrations, by one of Australia’s best-loved illustrators, Julie Vivas, are superb.

A must have for Australian homes and classrooms, Koala is also sure to be enjoyed by overseas audiences.

Koala, by Claire Saxby & Julie Vivas
Walker Books, 2017
ISBN 978192512639

I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell ill Charles Santoso

Adam does not like Koala.

Koala is the most terrible terrible.

He has terrible eyes that follow Adam everywhere he goes.

Adam does not like Koala.

Koala is the most terrible terrible.

He has terrible eyes that follow Adam everywhere he goes.

Adam takes a very active dislike to Koala from the moment he receives the gift. First Adam tries to tell his parents, but they don’t understand. Every night, they tuck Koala into bed with him before they turn off his light. Adam tries to ‘lose’ Koala, in all sorts of creative ways, but somehow Koala is always found before bedtime. Always. Illustrations are pencil  and mostly in very neutral browns and greys, with only a few elements picked out in colour. White space (or almost white) is used to increase tension and night scenes are shown with dark greeny-blacks that keep the focus tight on Adam and Koala.

I Don’t Like Koala is a striking picture book, full of dark humour. It is sophisticated and simple, allowing the reader plenty of room to bring their own ideas and experience. It is beautifully spare in both text and illustration and invites slow page-turning as the details reveal themselves. It’s just a little bit spooky, in the most delicious way. Is Koala really playing an active role, or is it all in Adam’s imagination? Recommended for early schoolers.

I Don’t Like Koala, Sean Ferrell ill Charles Santoso
Koala Books for Scholastic 2015

ISBN: 9781742761497

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller


Father Koala's Nursery Rhymes, by Kel Richards

Tom, Tom the piper’s son,
Stole a pig and away he run.
Tom got caught, the pig got away,
And Tom went sailing to Botany Bay.

There is no doubt that kids enjoy hearing silly poetry – the sillier, the better. And Father Koala’s Nursery Rhymes is full of silliness.

Australian versions of popular nursery rhymes fill the pages, with Three Fat Chooks (instead of Three Blind Mice), Here We Go ‘Round the Banksia Bush, Swaggie Put the Billy On and many more. The comic illustrations of Glen Singleton complement the humour of the rhymes and, in many instances, outshine it.

This is not great literature, but is something children will enjoy.

Father Koala’s Nursery Rhymes, by Kel Richards, illustrated by Glen Singleton
Scholastic, first published 1992, this edition 2005