Benny Bungarra’s Big Bush Clean-Up by Sally Morgan and Ambelin Kwaymullina

This picture book’s focus is on the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ slogan. The story explicitly shows the problems animals can encounter when rubbish is left in the natural environment in which they live; like getting stuck in plastic bottles or entangled in fishing line.

It teaches how to recycle rubbish into handy everyday items, cut down on rubbish and to recycle responsibly by using bins.

Coming from more of a non-fiction base, this is a good introduction to these issues for very young children and it also emphasis’s human responsibility towards animals and nature.

The illustrations are bright and colourful, in a contemporary indigenous style.

Snake in bottle

 This book will be a great conversation starter for young readers about current and crucial environmental themes.

Also coincidentally – would be a great book to talk to children about the current:        ‘Plastic Free July Campaign.’



Girl On Wire by Lucy Estela and Elise Hurst

This picture book is exquisite – delicate and graceful, yet piercingly intense.

It tells the story of a young girl facing a personal inner turmoil. We don’t find out what that is for her, but we don’t need to know. Life puts us in the darkness in many ways during our life and when we are there in that dark place it is just dark, for whatever reason, and finding the way out is very often hard. Not knowing her personal dilemma leaves the story open for our individual darknesses – whatever they may be or have been.

‘Turning her face from the wind, she sees for the first time how high the wire is and how far she could fall.’

This book shows that we must be strong even though it appears just too hard and that we have a support network. The interpretation of this is also left open – it could be your higher-self, or God, or a parent, or the community in which you live. It’s the thing you grasp on to, to get you through, the hope that wants you to succeed.

‘She stands up, ignoring the storm still snapping at her ankles and raises her arms out wide again.’

Finally, the girl takes the steps that start her warrior heart beating, and begins the journey, step-by-step, that leads her out of the darkness. There isn’t a full resolution at the end but she is moving…


This book is an analytical heaven. The interplay of meaning painted on to each page, both in words and illustrations, will make you read this book over and over again – not to understand it but because it has touched your soul. It is still resonating with me and I know the depth of this book will keep revealing itself to me over time.

We are all ‘Girl on a Wire.’

This is an important story.



Our Birds by Siena Stubbs

This inspiring non-fiction book about Australian birds is a treasure trove of mixed delights and is unique in many ways – here are some facts about it:

  • The photographer and author is a young indigenous girl who began her photographic journey with birds at only twelve years of age, through to about fifteen for this book
  • The bird names are presented in the indigenous language of Yolnu Matha which have sounds unknown in English, English itself and also their Yolnu Moiety which is a system of classification based on sound
  • This book is part memoir and part journal of the author-photographers life around Yirrkala in North-East Arnhem Land.
  • There is a selection of 21 birds from the area, presented in a light-hearted, fun but informative way, whilst also giving specific information about how the birds tie into cultural beliefs, stories and lifestyle
  • Each double-page spread has a photo of a bird with relevant information and/or a personal story on one side and a beautiful matching landscape photograph on the other

I would especially like to acknowledge Magabala Books (for whom I have been reviewing for quite a while) who are unique, daring and spot on in creating great books with a contemporary vision.

This is a small book but it includes so much interesting information.

Congratulations to Siena Stubbs for outstanding photography and insightful text.

For each book sold, a donation will go to the Small Seeds Big Reads: Magabala Books for Little Hands philanthropic initiative.

Please click hear to listen to Siena talk about her book



not so SCARY bear by Ruth Waters

The clues begin with the title on the cover – the bear in this book is really NOT that scary. He does try to be scary.  He has a traditional role to fill after all! – but he is lonely and wants to be friends with the other animals in the forest.  He cleverly solves this dilemma by using his own interests whilst staying true to his inner self.

Ruth Waters’ story is cleverly encoded – it is a meaningful story told with such delight and warmth.  Just a purely inspiring story that will be read over and over again.

Her completely handmade collages of paper, wool, ‘acrylic, glue and mess’ are warm,inviting and show mastery.  The use of collage creates tension between the individual parts as a comparative representation of a whole scene and fit perfectly into the concept of this book. They are also modern with clean-cut lines using a gorgeous palette of colours.

I love this picture book.

Congratulations Ruth Waters on a high standard debut picture book that everyone will enjoy.

The Trouble in Tune Town by Maura Pierlot and Sophie Norsa

Learning to play an instrument can definitely be frustrating – for everyone involved!

In this rhyming couplet story the protagonist gets fed up with practicing and the notes decide to run away. This becomes quite a problem when it is time to get the concert started and all the musicians have no notes to play. A sweet solution is found and the point of the story is revealed – the focus of learning to play an instrument needs to be on fun rather than perfection.

This will be a great book for frustrated instrument learners, their families and also their teachers. There are a few musical terms throughout the book and for those not quite musically au fait there is a glossary at the back to look up terms or use as a resource.

This book is not available in bookstores but can be purchased through the following author websites:

or through Booktopia




Pepsi the Problem Puppy by Sandi Parsons and Aska


Every child wants one!

Every parent thinks twice!

…….and then somehow, in one way or another they arrive!

This book is all about the ‘settling-in’ phase and how that is viewed very differently by each member of the family.

Rosie is the protagonist who has long wished for a puppy.

Her little brother Jacob always seems to say the wrong thing – especially when Mum’s around.

Dad is the parent who finally gives in and finds the puppy, although his research about the most suitable dog for their particular family wasn’t so good.

Mum is the reluctant parent who is not impressed with all the upset and happenings that Pepsi the puppy is causing.

Granny can see the funny side of everything Pepsi does and it is ultimately because of her that the dog gets to stay.

Children will laugh at the funny scenarios presented in this early independent reader novel.

And as an added bonus – the author has a real dog called Pepsi with his own webpage that you can look up here:  Pepsi

… looks like he can read too! What a clever doggo!!

Message in a Sock by Kaye Baillee and Narelda Joy

This very touching and true war story is special.

It doesn’t just depict a time in history – it actually transports you right there.

Unlike most war stories, this story focuses on the women left at home during WW1 and hones in on one aspect of how they supported their men – the soldiers.

Kaye Baillie tells the story of a little girl placing messages into the toes of socks that her mother has knitted during a war appeal to assist Australian soldiers serving in France. She includes other features in her story, including a poetic ‘Knitter’s Song’ that encapsulates the whole premise of this tale and the words of the original letter that sparked this book into being. Her story is underpinned by excellent historical research that makes this tale even more touching.

Narelda Joy’s collage illustrations perfectly compliment not only the story but the era of war. The colours and materials used have very vintage muted tones in hues of brown, green and blue. Another interesting aspect is that all the people in this story, including the child protagonist, Tammy, are always looking down, but the soldier looks you straight in the eye – a very open for interpretation move on the part of the illustrator.

This beautiful book and it’s unusual perspective will be treasured for not only it’s uniqueness but also for it’s truthful historical interpretation.

I feel very special to have known about this book for quite a long time. Kaye Baillee told me about it on the first day I met her and I have been anticipating it’s release since 2016! Congratulations Kaye – it was worth the wait!

There is a very special Book Launch happening for ‘Message in a Sock’ for those who would like to attend on Anzac Day, 25th April, 2pm – 3pm at The National Wool Museum, 26 Moorabool Street, Geelong, Victoria.

 Here are the details:

MidnightSun Publishing together with author Kaye Baillie and illustrator Narelda Joy are proud to launch their picture book, MESSAGE IN A SOCK at the National Wool Museum with FREE ENTRY to the Museum all day.

Join Sue Lawson, writing teacher and young adult author of books including FREEDOM RIDE and PROTEST IN AUSTRALIA as she discusses MESSAGE IN A SOCK with Kaye Baillie and Narelda Joy. Listen to a reading from the book then handle replica World War 1 socks knitted by a talented Red Cross volunteer. Enjoy a hot drink and Anzac biscuit then view the Museum’s sock knitting machines and the collection displaying the full story of wool.  National Wool Museum volunteers will demonstrate ‘casting on’ and signed copies of MESSAGE IN A SOCK will be available for purchase.