Molly the Pirate by Lorraine Teece and Paul Seden

This story will float you into the seven seas of pirate life from the pure role-playing perspective of a child. This book is full of imagination from all angles.

Molly lives on a farm and in this story she becomes a pirate and her crew are the chickens, her dog and her cat. This story is pure childhood pretending fun and I love that this pirate protagonist is a girl and that the plot has been kept at a realistic and believable level that all readers will relate to.

Paul Seden really brings the text alive – watching the characters’ antics, expressions and outfits are humorously delightful.

He adds leveled dimensions of imagination right throughout the story. A hat, a stick, and an eye-patch turn very quickly into full pirate regalia. The way he amalgamates the desert setting into the rolling seas is enchanting and clever.

The more I read this book, the more I love it! This is a definite ‘read it again’ book that neither children or adult readers will tire of and it is one of those amazing books where you will notice something new every time you read it.

I will even say that it is one of my favourite picture books of the year.



Free Diving by Lorrae Coffin and Bronwyn Houston

This historical based picture book is founded on a song written by the author. (words and sheet music included.) You can watch the beautiful book / song collaboration here:


I have decided to transcribe Magabala’s information about this book and will then say what I think :

” ‘Free Diving’ is a poignant tribute to the Indigenous men and women who worked in Western Australia’s pearling industry as ‘free divers’ in the late nineteenth century.  In a practice known as ‘blackbirding’ (forced unpaid labour), European pearl lugger owners used Indigenous people to dive for pearl shell.  With no protective suits, the divers faced threats such as decompression sickness known as the ‘bends’, shark attack or of being swept away by huge tides.  At sea for weeks at a time, there was also the risk of the luggers being shipwrecked in cyclones that formed off the coast. ”

Firstly, the story and illustrations carry a deep darkness and sadness throughout – how could they not! However I feel that although extremely well done that this story is not well suited to the picture book form.  I struggle to find who the audience might be and longed for more depth whilst reading it.  I would prefer to see this story extended, to delve deeper into the issues and emotions presented, to let the audience really know and feel the protagonist, his family, his struggles and his comparative interactions with the Japanese and Malay men who were also involved in this greedy, money hungry exploit.

Bronwyn Houston must be commended for her evocative illustrations.  This is a style I have not seen her do before and the depth of maturity in her work resonates well with the subject matter.

Ballerina Monkey by Nicole Madigan

This story begins with Malik the monkey’s dilemma – he wants to be a ballerina. He watches curiously as the pink flamingoes dance in the river every morning and longs to be able to dance in the same way.

His other monkey friends don’t understand his obsession and tease him but when he goes and talks about it with his Mum, she assures him that he can do anything he wants to do and can be anyone he wants to be.

He decides to get lessons from the flamingoes, which he loves, but again he wears the wrath of the other monkey’s jeers – that is until the King of the Jungle and his pride of lions pay a visit and love his dancing so much that he gets to deliver a special performance and his friends now clap and cheer for him. In the end Malik has fulfilled his wish and his friends are happy for his accomplishments too.


This book will entice conversation and discussion about all the above scenarios and issues.  It is suitable for 3 – 7 year olds and I am sure they will also enjoy the bright illustrations.


Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins

The words in this story take us on a journey set in northern Australia.  The story begins in the dry season and takes readers right through the monsoonal changes and into the lush and long awaited wet season.

The illustrations will capture you as soon as you look at the front cover with three cheeky frogs climbing up water lily fronds.  Fern Martin’s mix of indigenous art, collage, ink and watercolour make each double-page spread inviting.  She envelopes the story and makes the reader feel part of the scenery using a pastel based colour palette.

You really feel like you’ve been taken on an adventure after reading this picture book and at the end you feel a contented happiness as the order of life flourishes.

Baby Band by Diane Jackson Hill and Giuseppe Poli

The founding message in this book is the disconnectedness of the modern world and how small things can turn things upside down and unify us all as one.

The story is set in an apartment block with all the occupants going about their solitary lives. This all changes when a baby is born and breaks the silence with a lot of crying. The neighbours are brought together when the baby eventually finds something that makes him happy and in their own special way, they all join in!

I certainly can relate to this picture book as I was living overseas when my first child was born and I felt quite isolated – and he sure did cry a lot!

This book also makes me reflect on the joy babies bring to the World – how people stop and talk to you and want to look at the warm, snuggly bundle in your pram.

Babies are miracles and as this book shows they can perform the miracle of uniting people of all ages and interests to form a common friendship.

Giuseppe Poli’s illustrations are happy and playful and work well with the text. He has a sense of humour that will delight readers young and old.

Be sure to take a look at the illustration only page just after the story ends and also at the endpapers that depict the story in a nutshell.

A happy, uplifting read for all ages.






Lizzy’s Dragon by Melissa Gijsbers

Lizzy’s Dragon is a fantasy adventure story set in a countryside town.

There are elements in this story that children are going to love, beginning with Lizzy’s wish for a pet. She actually wishes for a lizard but ends up with a much larger reptile when she finds an egg and ends up raising a dragon.  Lizzy then has to problem solve just where to keep it as it grows larger and larger – and all this in secret!

Together Lizzy and her pet dragon ‘Bubbles’ become superheroes when the area in which they live becomes threatened by a natural disaster. United they save the area and the lives of the people who live there.

The relationship developments in this story are interesting. The most distinct is the sibling rivalry between Lizzy and her younger brother, Joey – it actually made me smile in reflective memory! Their problems are solved in the end as a result of the maturity that Lizzy gains from her experience. The relationship with her parents also changes as Lizzy takes on a huge responsibility and proves that she has what it takes to make responsible decisions and as her parents realise that they can place their trust in her.

There is the possibility that Lizzy and Bubbles could go on many more adventures as the story sets up the pretext for a series.

This book is suitable for independent younger readers or a great introductory read-aloud chapter book for parents to share with their children – either way a very enjoyable book.



My Dog Socks by Robyn Osborne and Sadami Konchi

Sometimes the most simple of stories can portray the most depth and ‘My Dog Socks’ is a testament to this. The interplay of story, illustrations and concepts all have layers that give depth of meaning to this beautiful story of a boy and his dog – some obvious, others quite subtle.

Firstly, the story, written from the boy’s perspective, is penned in poetic prose, which flow seamlessly from one page to the next in an enticingly fun and totally intriguing style. The emotions attached to strong relationships are explored, showing the unconditional love and acceptance of the multitudinal sides of all living beings – the ups and downs of life and being there to support each other through the good and not so good times and also the acceptance of differences that comes with such a strong bond.

The abstract elements of the watercolour illustrations cleverly convey the author’s words and add depth by the use of an extremely clever shadowing technique that depicts each stage of the story. The dog is painted in a deep navy blue-purplish colour to make it stand out from the natural settings – I learnt this from the illustrator herself. It adds to the layers I mentioned at the start – stunningly so!

‘My Dog Socks,’ is based on a real dog that belonged to the author before he moved on from this world. It is, no doubt, the invisible layer of love that undertone Robyn’s words. Socks lives on posthumously on Facebook and avid dog lovers would enjoy this site:

You can see a picture of the real ‘Socks’ and get some great teaching ideas on the Publisher’s website – Ford Street Publishing – here:

This book is not only for lovers of ‘man’s best friend,’ but for those of us that love all animals – and you just might be surprised at how many other animals you can actually find throughout this book!

Congratulations to Robyn Osborne and Sadami Konchi – I see more depth and fall in love with this book just a little bit more every time I read it.