Now I Am Bigger, by Sherryl Clark & Nina Rycroft

look, there’s someone
just like me

hands on head
arms out wide
touch my nose
tickle my ears
that baby does
everything I do

From the moments after birth, to a birthday party, Now I am Bigger captures the big and little moments of a baby’s life. Similar in format to a verse novel, this picture book offering consists of a series of free verse poems each focussing on one of baby’s experiences – being wrapped in a light cocoon after birth, floating in a bath, looking in a mirror, learning to crawl and walk – and brought to life in gentle water colour and pencil illustrations.

The poems can be read separately, but together create a lovely exploration of the world of a baby. Perfect for read aloud to the very young, the gentle rhythm of the text could be used as a bedtime story, but will also appeal to older children who have babies in their lives.

Now I am Bigger

Now I am Bigger, by Sherryl Clark & Nina Rycroft
Working Title, 2010
ISBN 9781921504174

This book can be purchased in any good bookstore, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

A Ute Picnic, by Lorraine Marwood

The sound of heat,
a roar like a sawmill
hungry for wood
that day,
that forty-five degree day

(Black Saturday)

From confronting, but very real, explorations of the realities of bushfire, as above, to the silliness of passersby mistaking a milk tanker for party lights, this poetry collection captures the highs and lows of rural Australian life.

Award-winning poet Lorraine Marwood offers a collection that is very Australian, and which delights in its variety. What is common across the collection is the excellence which makes each poem give the reader pause to consider, to enjoy, to celebrate.

Spiders are made fascinating:
of spider
curled against the daylight
waiting for the moon


and cows, which feature prominently (as is to be expected in a rural-themed collection) play follow-the leader (Cow Tracks and Facts) and swing hips in joy of gourmet anticipation (They Buck Only for Oats).

In a classroom setting rural youngsters will delight in the familiarity of the subject matter, and the accuracy of its portrayal, whilst city kids will delight in the novelty of the images. In private, readers will enjoy dipping into the poems one at a time, or reading cover to cover.

A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems is an outstanding poetry collection from an outstanding poet.

A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems

A Ute Picnic and Other Australian Poems, by Lorraine Marwood
Walker Books, 2010

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

There's a Goat in My Coat, by Rosemary Milne

Wriggle and Giggle
Wriggle your fingers
And wriggle your toes
Wriggle your hips
And wriggle your nose
Wriggle your bottom
And wriggle your head
Wriggle and giggle
And jump out of bed!

There’s a Goat in My Coat is a picture-book sized, hard cover collection of poetry from the author of the ‘Playschool’ song ‘There’s a Bear in There’. The opening poem is about getting out of bed, and the final poem rounds off the collection with the same poem, re-jigged for going to bed. In between, there are poems to reflect a wide range of days. Some are nonsense narrative poems like ‘Bouncy Bear’ and the more realist ‘Round and Round the Roundabout’. Others are about slippers and socks and rolling down hills. The title of the collection comes from a poem called ‘I’m a Walking Zoo’, a nonsense rhyming poem. There are long poems and short ones and following around the page ones. Illustrations range from real to absurd and are loose watercolours and pencil.

It’s clear from the outset, that There’s a Goat in My Coat is going to be a fun collection for young children. It’s silly and funny and perfect to read out loud. The content is styled to make the listening to the individual words and lines as much fun as the poem itself. There’s a mixture of poetic styles too, with rhyming poems, rhythmic ones, and others that employ repetition to good effect. There are poems that ask to be acted out, poems for counting, observational poems, something for every taste. The illustrations add to the humour and fun. Some are full colour, others are set in white space. Front endpapers are set on the same sunny yellow as the cover, while the end endpapers reflect the going to bed of the final poem. A perfect collection to give away as a gift, or to keep to share with your own young children.

There's a Goat in My Coat

There’s a Goat in My Coat, Rosemary Milne, ill Andrew McLean
Allen & Unwin 2010
ISBN: 9781741758917

Reviewed by Claire Saxby Children’s book author.

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

Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids, edited by Jim Haynes

Kids love verse, and the Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kidsis, as the title suggests, packed full of verse. There are poems short and long, chosen especially for the Australian audience.

Selected by poet and entertainer Jim Haynes, the collection includes poems from Australia and around the world on topics ranging from the serious to the downright silly. What is common is the use of rhyme and rhythm, and the aim of the selector to appeal to Aussie kids.

The over 600 poems included in the volume are organised into 20 categories, or chapters, including poems about creatures, about childhood, and about places, or poetic forms including the limerick and the epitaph. Poets represented are well known, including Banjo Patterson, Edward Lear and TS Elliot, or lesser known, modern or historic. Some poems will be familiar to readers, others will be new. All have the potential to touch the reader and stay with them afterwards.

This is a wonderful offering for kids and adults, for home, school or library.

Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids

Big Book of Verse for Aussie Kids, edited by Jim Haynes
Allen & Unwin, 2009

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

Untangling Spaghetti, by Steven Herrick

When my dad heard my brother call me
‘A Dork!’
He said,
‘Jack, we don’t say that word in this house.’
So Jack walked quickly out the back door
Stood in the yard
And yelled at me,
‘You dork!’
In his best older brother voice!

Untangling Spaghetti is a collection of poetry for children from award-winning author and poet Steven Herrick, bringing together poems from his previously published collections . From the funny, like House Rules above, to the silly and even the sad, the collection is fun to browse or to read cover to cover.

Poems are arranged into themes, including House Rules, the Big Match and Seeing the World and demonstrate Herrick’s keen understanding of, and empathy with, a child’s view of the world. He says in his introduction that many of the poems come from the experiences of his own sons and in other poems, including the poetry visitor, Herrick’s own experiences are also obvious.

This wonderful collection deserves a place in school libraries and classrooms, but will also be loved at home.

Untangling Spaghetti: Selected Poems from Steven Herrick

Untangling Spaghetti: Selected Poems, By Steven Herrick
UQP, 2009

Can You Keep a Secret, by Mark Carthew & Jobi Murphy

For anyone who loves nursery rhymes – and for anyone who has yet to discover their wonders- this delightful offering is just perfect. This cushioned hardcover book offers hundreds of rhymes, brightly illustrated and with touches such as the ribbon bookmark making it a great gift and a collector’s item.

From the seemingly universally known rhymes such as Hey diddle diddle, and Mary had a Little Lamb to lesser known ones including Five Bananas, Chubby Little Snow Man and many, many more, there are rhymes to suit every mood or occasion. Compiler Mark Carthew has divided his selections into six categories: Nursery rhymes, Playtime Rhymes, Action rhymes, Counting Rhymes, Finger Rhymes and Lullabies and Gentle Rhymes, and has included a Foreword with a little insight into his selection process.

All rhymes are colourfully illustrated by Jobi Murphy using ink outlines and bright fills. Some pages uses bold or bright backgrounds, whilst others are on white. There is plenty of variety to delight young readers.

This is a volume to be dipped into and to be treasured by young and old. Simply beautiful.

Can You Keep a Secret?

Can You Keep a Secret, by Mark Carthew and Jobi Murphy
Random House Australia, 2008

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

The ABC Book of Lullabies

Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

The ABC Book of Lullabies is a collection of lullabies, some familiar, some less so. Some contain extra verses that are less well known. But these lullabies have been gathered to showcase the work of some popular Australia’s children’s illustrators. There are thirteen double spreads and each features a lullaby illustrated by a different illustrator. Styles vary from realistic to fantasy, from watercolour to Photoshop. Many depict night-time scenes, but others, like Tamsin Ainslie’s illustration for ‘Lavender’s Blue’ depict an imaginary garden that is part collage. Lullabies like ‘Lavender’s Blue’ show that it’s sometimes less the words that count than the mood of the singer/singing. Emma Quay’s illustrations for ‘The Man in the Moon’ also grace the cover.

Books like The ABC Book of Lullabies are produced for two audiences simultaneously: the child who focuses on the images as the words are read to them and the adult (usually) who is reading. Each will take different things from the reading. An adult may well be interested in the differences between the images and the differing styles of each illustrator. Short bios, including sketches and photos are included in the final pages for those readers. Each illustrator shares a little about what they do and why, and why they’ve chosen the particular lullaby. Children will enjoy this collection whatever time they read or are read to, but it does make a lovely bedtime collection. For adults, The ABC Book of Lullabies is a bit like a sampler, introducing the work of some of Australia’s most talented illustrators. Or perhaps an illustrators’ version of a anthology. Recommended for 3-6 year olds and adults who love illustration.

The ABC Book of Lullabies

The ABC Book of Lullabies, various illustrators
ABC Books 2008
ISBN: 9780733323621

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

Anna the Goanna, by Jill McDougall

I had a bike
I really liked
It had no brakes
It had no light…

Opening with the adventures of this bike – and of its rider – Anna the Goanna and Other Poems takes children of all backgrounds on a poetic journey through life in remote communities. Written by the author for the Aboriginal students that’s he taught, to provide some relevant literary experiences, the poems will appeal to Aboriginal students, but will also captivate children (and adults) of all backgrounds.

Some poems capture the fun of childhood, with bike rides, and trips to town and games. Others focus on the sorts of things which might captivate a child’s interest – insects, birds and animals feature strongly here. Still others deal with important social issues including a sobering but insightful look into petrol sniffing in Sad Boys in which a narrator talks about a much loved brother who has been changed by this habit.

The accompanying watercolour illustrations bring alive the colours of the Australian Outback, and capture the mood of each poem, with fun (where appropriate) and also with sensitivity.

This is a beautiful book which kids will love, and which should also find a home in every school in Australia.

Anna the Goanna and Other Poems, by Jill McDougall, illustrated by Jenny Taylor
Aboriginal Studies Press, paperback edition 2008

Kaleidoscope, by Dale Harcombe

Kaleidoscopeis, just like the children’s toy for which it is named, an unexpected delight. Behind an unassuming (though attractive) cover lies an array of beautiful poetry, with each turn of the page providing a new perspective and a new delight.

From the title poem which captures the magic of the kaleidoscope and the new perspective it offers, to the bittersweet (but oh so real) twist in Hopscotch – which opens by describing the innocent delight of a game between two girls then turns to show the cruelty those same girls can show to a third – and from poems about war to one about a dramatic moon rise, poet Dale Harcombe offers insight and reflection to readers, who must pause to absorb each new observation.

This little offering is a delight, both for poetry lovers and for those who perhaps don’t ordinarily read poetry, as the poems are accessible to all.


Kaleidoscope, by Dale Harcombe
Ginninderra Press, 2005

If the World Belonged to Dogs, by Michelle A. Taylor

Reviewed by Dale Harcombe

Written due to an Australia Council literary grant, If the World Belonged to Dogs is a welcome addition to the sometimes sadly lacking library of good poetry books for children. Many of the poems in the collection appeared in School Magazine, which over many years has been responsible for publishing a number of Australia’s leading and upcoming writers.

Michelle A Taylor has captured the playful humour and inquisitive nature of children, starting right from the first short poem, Where is Wednesday?

In the middle of the sandwich
Neither here nor there
That no-man’s land
Where the week begins to bend
Too late for the beginning
Too early for the end.

The simple rhyme coming in the last two lines ties the poem together neatly.

Taylor shows great insight into the interests of children. Her comparison regarding What Does Friday Look Like? is fresh, interesting and, above all, child centred and I loved How to Catch a Hiccup and also the image of fairies hiding rainbows in When it rains, Do Fairies? What young child hasn’t pondered about the habits of fairies and what they get up to?

This collection contains an interesting mix of poems. Taylor knows when to use rhyme to effect and when to leave it alone or use only internal rhyme. Her images are visual and vital. I defy you not to be able to see the scene in the opening of A Paddock Full of Poems which takes its title from A Paddock Of Poems, the Max Fatchen collection of poems for children.

And suddenly,
the paddock is full of poems,
pushing their way in
through the barbed wire fence,
galloping bareback
on the black mares,
their manes wild in the breeze.

In the title poem, the playful and visual imagery, of each person in the family portrayed as a dog, is sure to amuse children and have them thinking which kinds of dogs their own family members might resemble. The ending in particular will bring a wry smile to any face:

And my dog would put on its glasses
then say with a smile

‘Dogs do not think they are human
but they know that humans are dogs.’

In the hands of an imaginative teacher this poem, and indeed this whole collection, could provide food for thought and discussion perhaps.

The collection is divided into nine sections: Fantastical Nonsense, (which contains some of my favourites) Creatures Great and Small, Families, Bread and Butter, A. B.C, Disgusting Habits, Goosebumps, A Big Country, and Lazy Bones and Lullabies. Between them all, it has poems to please any taste. I’m sure the poems collected in Disgusting Habits, and Goosebumps, will appeal particularly to boys in the 8-10 age group.

One of the poems that appealed to me was The Ocean in Different Clothes where Michelle A. Taylor captured the essence of two different cultures according to the ocean at their shores.

A fun read, this book is a must for any library, classroom or anyone with an interest in contemporary children’s poetry.

If the World Belonged to Dogs, by Michelle A. Taylor
University of Queensland Press 2007
ISBN 978 0 7022 3609
PB RRP $16.95


Dale Harcombe has had poems published in many of Australia’s literary magazines and newspapers. Ginninderra Press published ‘Kaleidoscope’ her first collection of poetry in 2005. You can read several of her poems at She also writes poems for children, some of which have appeared in School Magazine or been published by Harcourt Education.