One Night, by Penny Matthews & Stephen Michael King

In any farmyard, on Christmas Eve, if you are very lucky, you can hear the animals talk.

It happens only on this most magical of nights.

And it happens only in that moment just before midnight

when the world is silent, waiting.

On Christmas Eve, at midnight, legend says that animals can talk. They speak to remember the part that animals played on the very first Christmas – where a donkey carried the baby’s mother, horses gave up their stall and other animals provided soft bedding. Even the mouse and the spider did their bit, and the rooster crowed to herald the news. Proud of the part their forbears played, the animals celebrate on Christmas Eve.

One Night is a delightful, gentle Christmas tale with the focus squarely on the animals, though two spreads show Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, and the final spread shows all the animals gazing at the sleeping baby.

The text is not overdone, using the animals’ dialogue to show their pride, and the watercolour and pencil illustrations are a perfect complement with soft, expressive animals and night time hues.

A lovely Christmas offering.


One Night, by Penny Matthews & Stephen Michael King
Omnibus Books, 2014
ISBN 9781742990279

Available from good bookstores or online.

Imagine a City, by Elise Hurst

Imagine a city
and drops of rain
A world without edges
Where the wind takes you high…

Fish that fly through the sky , gargoyles that come alive and drink cups of tea, and cats that play chess are just a few of the wonders that populate the pages of this fantastical, magical yet gentle book. The poetic text is minimal – just a few words per page – and invites readers to use their imagination. The illustrations, in black pen and ink on cream backgrounds use light and shadow, and lots of cross-hatching and detail, to amazing effect. There is a historic feel, with steam trains, historical figures and buildings and of course the lack of colour all enhancing this, but it doesn’t feel dated. Rather, it seems the children pictured are in a time slip adventure, taking the reader with them.

The design of the book is also special. In clothbound hard cover, with embossed text and a panel print illustration, the endpapers also use red ink rather than the black of the rest of the book. The whole feels sumptuous and a real keepsake.

Imagine a City would make a perfect gift for a child or an adult.


Imagine a City, by Elise Hurst
Omnibus, 2014
ISBN 9781742990095

Available from good bookstores or online.

A Feast for Wombat, by Sally Morgan & Tania Erzinger

Wombat stared in surprise at the other animals.
Am I special after all?

When Wombat emerges from his tunnel, his friends are really glad to see him, but as Wombat watches them celebrate he feels sad. Each of his friends is good at something: Goanna is the fastest climber, Magpie is the best singer and Dingo is the cleverest dancer. Wombat wants to go back and hide in his tunnel, but his friends run after him to remind him that he, too, is good at things, and best of all, that Wombat is their friend.

A Feast for Wombat is a gentle tale of friendship and self belief. While Wombat wants to be like his friends, he seems unaware that each of them is different, as is he. His friends’ reminder of his own strengths is reassuring, and will reassure young readers, too.

The acrylic illustrations bring the cast of Australian animals to life in gentle bush colours with lovely textured backgrounds, adding to the warm feel of the book.


A Feast for Wombat, by Sally Morgan & Tania Erzinger
Omnibus, 2014
ISBN 9781742990187

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Ugg Boot War, by Kylie Fornasier

I would need a book the size of the Yellow Pages to list all the embarrassing things about my dad. The most embarrassing thing of all is his ugg boots. he wears them all the time, even in public, even in summer, even with shorts.

Jake has a problem – two problems actually, and both of them are on the ends of Dad’s legs. Dad seems permanently attached to his ugg boots. He wears them everywhere, all year round. They are old and stained, but Dad doesn’t care. He says they’re his pride and joy. Jake cares, though. He worries what people might think, and tries desperately to find a way to get Dad and his ugg boots separated – for good.

The Ugg Boot War is a humorous, easy to read story about ugg boots and family. The resolution is both satisfying and fun, and the story is complemented with colour illustrations, by Tom Jellett, bringing the action to life.

Part of Omnibus Books’ fantastic Mates series, The Ugg Boot War is a fabulous Aussie tale for beginning readers.


The Ugg Boot War (Mates)

The Ugg Boot War, by Kylie Fornasier & Tom Jellett
Omnibus Books, 2014
ISBN 9781862919990

Available from good bookstores and online.

Crossing, by Catherine Norton

Some people think that the point of living in a tall building is the view, but that’s not how my parents saw it when they chose to live on the ground floor. All we can see from our apartment is the Wall.
There was a time when I didn’t know that there was any other kind of view, and I felt good, even smug, about the extra space they said we had, and about not having to climb up flights and flights of stairs.

Cara lives in the shadow of the Wall, a wall which protects its citizens from the outside world. By following the rules, Cara and her sister are safe, even when their parents are away doing important work for the government. But hen Cara befriends Leona and Ava, who live in an apartment upstairs she slowly begins to question what she has always known. Are food shortages, high security and unquestioning loyalty really making people happy and safe? Ava doesn’t seem to think the rules are all that important. Perhaps that is why she disappears.

Crossing is a thought-provoking look at life without freedom, in a government-controlled world with shades of Orwell or East Germany. The ever-present Wall, the distribution of food, and the fear of breaking rules overshadow everything Cara does, and her absentee parents seem to care less about her than about their mysterious duties for the government. Through the use of flashbacks and hints of what has happened, readers are invited in to Cara’s world, and to the dilemmas she faces, as they piece together what is going on.

Suitable for upper primary and young adult readers.


Crossing, by Catherine Norton
Omnibus Books, 2014
ISBN 9781742990286

Available from good bookstores and online.

The Boy From Snowy River, by Edwina Howard

‘Well, maybe this is a way you can go. Read this,’ says Gran. She tosses the paper at me.

It’s about the Dargan’s Ridge Festival. On the bottom Gran has circled this:

Celebrate the spirit of ‘The Man From Snowy River’ with the Stockman’s Cup! $500 first place!

George really wants to go to Bill Spills Water World, but it’s expensive, and a long way from Mumblegum, where he lives. Gran has a solution: he can enter a horse race on their old stock horse, Bandicoot. Not much can go wrong – unless Bandicooot’s friend Croak gets involved, or George is accused of cheating, or some rogue goats get free.

The Boy from Snowy River, new in Omnubus Books’ Mates series, is a fast moving, easy to read offering with plenty of humour. Colour illustrations, by Joe Bond, and text embellishments add interest and help in making the text accessible.

Lots of fun for lower primary readers.


The Boy from Snowy River, by Edwina Howard, illustrated by Joe Bond
Omnibus Books, 2014
ISBN 9781862919976

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Bush Book Club, by Margaret Wild & Ben Wood

Echidna loved reading snug in bed,
with platters of ants and buttered bread.
Kangaroo loved reading as she hopped along,
trying not fall in the billabong.

All the animals love reading, and are members of the Bush Book Club. Everyone, that is, except Bilby. Bilby has never found a book that interest him. he is too busy twiddling and fiddling, skipping and hopping. Until one day he finds himself alone with nothing but a room full of books.

The Bush Book Club is a lovely story about books – and the importance of finding the right one. The resolution makes clear the premise held by many teachers, librarians, authors and other book people that there is a right book for every reader, and that a child who doesn’t like books hasn’t been given the right book yet.

Bilby and his friends have been beautifully brought to life in the water colour and pencil illustrations by Ben Wood, and youngsters will also enjoy the settings, especially the tree-home of the Book Club.



The Bush Book Club, by Margaret Wild & Ben Wood
Omnibus Books, 2014
ISBN 9781742990149

Available from good bookstores and online.

Going Bush With Grandpa, by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, illustrated by Craig Smith

I jump in the front. ‘Bye, Mum!’ I yell as we pull out of the drive. ‘I’ll bring you back a shiny gold nugget!’
‘Make it a big one!’ she laughs. ‘Then we can all go on a holiday!’

Pete is off on a bush camping trip with his Grandpa, whose name is also Pete. Both of them are excited about the prospect of finding a gold nugget with Grandpa’s super duper new metal detector. But as well as looking for gold, the pair are spending time together – they play jokes, they sing songs, and Grandpa cooks his speciality – curry.

Going Bush with Grandpa is a lovely story of the friendship and connection between two generations of a family. Pete and Grandpa share a special bond and the reader is given the sense that the real nugget here is that connection – though they’ll also hope, along with Pete, for a gold nugget to be found.

With text by Sally Morgan and her son Ezekiel Kwaymullina, and illustrations by Craig Smith on every spread, the story is accessible to readers in early primary years.


Going Bush with Grandpa

Going Bush with Grandpa, by Sally Morgan and Ezekiel Kwaymullina, illustrated by Craig Smith
Omnibus, 2014
ISBN 9781742990262

Available from good bookstores and Sally Morgan and online.

The Book of You: Jodie, by Randa Abdel-Fattah

‘Jodie…?’ Deyana said in a hushed tone.
‘What’s going…?’ Rania couldn’t bring herself to continue.
There was a message on the page.
On what had been a blank page only moments ago.
A message addressed to me.
The three of us screamed and ran out of the room.

Friends Jodie, Rania and Deyana are surprised to find an old book hidden behind a brick in the wall of the library storeroom. They are more surprised to find that the book is empty of words. But when they discover that the book writes itself, directly to Jodie, they are disbelieving. How does the book know what is happening in Jodie’s life, and is the cryptic advice the book gives useful or just plain confusing?

Jodie is the first book in a new series, The Book of You and so sets up the premise of the series – a book with a connection an orphan previously resident in the school, which mysteriously communicates with the reader. At the same time, this is also a story about the issues of a blended family and marital breakdown, as Jodie struggles to deal with the breakdown of her parents’ marriage and the new stepsister her father’s new relationship affords.

Tween readers will enjoy the novelty of the premise and the book’s role in events, and will look forward to further instalments in the series.


Jodie (Book of You)

Jodie , by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Omnibus, 2013
ISBN 9781742990101

Available from good bookstores and online.

Redcap's Christmas, by Susan Cason & Ben Wood

Redcap strides along the path to the snow goose airstrip. He’s on his way!
He practices what he’ll say when he gets there. ‘Hi, I’m Redcap. I’m the son of Twist and Tippy-toe. I’m hard-working and honest. I’m clever and cheerful.’ He smiles his biggest smile. ‘And I’m looking for a job.’
The job he’s dreamed of for weeks and months and years.
The job.
In the workshop.
At the North Pole.
Working with the greatest elf of them all.

Redcap is a hard working young elf who wants nothing more than to work at the North Pole and to meet the greatest elf of them all – Santa Claus. Getting a job doesn’t prove too hard – but keeping it might prove more than a little difficult, especially with the kind of help his new friend Jellybean has to offer. There’s a week to go until Christmas and it seems that every day has a new challenge for Redcap and the other elves. Will he keep his job and get to meet Santa?

Redcap’s Christmas is a delightful Christmas offering for young readers, following Redcap’s adventures in the lead up to Christmas. Each chapter is a new adventure, seeing a new problem arise at Santa’s workshop, with Redcap playing the leading role in coming up with a solution. Although suitable for solo reading, it is easy to see this being read aloud one chapter per night as a pre-Christmas treat.

Illustrations are a mix of grey scale images on most pages, with one full page coloured illustration at the beginning of each chapter, and the hardcover format makes for a sturdy offering, perfect for a gift.


Redcap’s Christmas, by Susan Cason & Ben Wood
Omnibus, 2013
ISBN 9781742990217

Available from good bookstores and online.