Australians are spoilt for choice when it comes to children’s literature – Aussie authors have been punching above their weight for decades, creating iconic works, and winning literature awards from around the world. From Ivan Southall, Libby Hathorn and Mem Fox; to Bob Graham, Shaun Tan, Sonya Hartnett, Philip Bunting and many more, Australian authors have been capturing funny, beautiful and distinctly Australian stories for and about our children. Here are some latest ones worth celebrating, from both established and emerging authors:
My Shadow is Pink by Scott Stuart
This warm story about a father-and-son uses lively rhymes to introduce big topics to a young audience – being true to yourself, challenging stereotypes, and celebrating differences. Our main character is a young boy with a pink shadow – unlike the rest of his manly relatives, whose shadows are blue. His pink shadow loves ponies and sparkles and things “not for boys”, which worries the boy because he so wants to fit in. One fateful dressup day, everything changed… Scott Stuart wrote this story based on his experiences supporting his young son, who loves the character Elsa from Disney’s Frozen. He now actively promotes self-expression and challenges gender stereotypes as an author/illustrator and via Tiktok.
Hello Jimmy! by Anna Walker
Hello, Jimmy! works on so many different levels – it is a warm story about a father-and-son rediscovering their emotional connection to each other; it is a sensitive portrayal of a family going through separation, and is a good conversation starter about sadness, loneliness, navigating change, and diverse families; and Jimmy the parrot , being a cranky and irrepressible character, makes this a lively read-aloud. Once again, Anna Walker has taken familiar events from daily life, and used her distinctive style to create jewel-like moments brimming with drama and emotion.
Sing Me the Summer by Jane Godwin and Alison Lester
What a partnership! Jane Godwin and Alison Lester are successful and beloved authors in their own right; in Sing Me the Summer they have combined their powers to produced a wonderful ode to the seasons. The gentle rhymes and bright pictures celebrate the changing colours and fun activities of different seasons – picnicking on the beach, stomping through fallen leaves, bonfires on cold nights, and playing in lush springtime grass. Also watch out for cameo appearances by beloved characters Noni the Pony, and My Dog Bigsy!
The Fire Wombat by Jackie French and Danny Snell
Jackie French knows a lot about wombats, as her bestselling Diary of a Wombat series can attest. The story of Fire Wombat was inspired by a wombat she saw during the devastating 2020 bushfires. In the hot dry countryside, the bush animals can see and sense the encroaching smoke and flames. Led by a small wombat, they eventually find safety in the cool underground tunnels of a wombat burrow. Fire Wombat has vivid imagery and is an ultimately hopeful story about resilience, courage and friendship. It is also a great conversation starter about bushfires and their aftermath.
Our Home, Our Heartbeat by Adam Briggs, Kate Moon and Rachael Sarra
Our Home, Our Heartbeat celebrates Indigenous achievements across different eras, professions and communities. Adam Briggs, better known as Briggs, is a rapper/comedian/writer/actor from the Yorta Yorta nation. He wrote this story, based on his song “The Children Came Back”, to normalise Indigenous success, inspiring and informing all children of the contribution of Indigenous people to Australia. Like many of great stories, this is one Briggs wished he had when he was growing up. The vibrant illustrations show children doing the things they love, and convey a huge sense of fun and energy.
Bluey: The Creek by Bluey
Bluey is the little Aussie series turned worldwide phenomenon, for all the best reasons. It has been praised for its relatable characters, realistic storylines, and for healthy depictions of emotions, gender identity and parenting behaviours – and last but not least, for being funny and adorable! The Creek is inspired by an episode of the same name. When Dad takes Bluey, Bingo and Mackenzie to the creek to play, they discover that it is a beautiful place with lots to discover and explore. Enjoy the story for itself, or use it to inspire your little ones to enjoy and investigate nature.