just a note . . .

. . . to say thank you to all the lovely people who have continued to click in to the site during July, even though we've not been able to add new posts. We both really wanted to get at it, but things like day-to-day life and a quite horrible stomach bug caught up with us both. Everything's normalising now and and WTBA will be back on track again next Monday, August 4th.  Thank you again!!!!

Joan & Kim xx 


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Looking for a good belly laugh?

These books will bring it on. Every time!

1. The Terrible Wild Grey Hairy Thing

So maybe this won’t be quite so funny for fastidious housekeepers, but it was really funny at our house.  Because it all seemed so believable.  It was entirely possible that I would lose a sausage behind a chest and leave it there to gather dust for months at a time.  read the full post here


2. It's a Book

Anything remotely resembling a swear word makes for sniggers - and 'Jackass' is close enough.  Max particularly thought this was hilarious and extremely risqué.  read the full post here



3. That’s Disgusting! ... Dangerous ... Mean

Because, between us all, we’d done so many of the things that were categorised as disgusting, dangerous or mean, these books made us laugh everytime.  And then there was the unthinkable things that we had never done, and would never do, that were lumped into the same category – so funny.  read the full post here

4. Cinderella’s Bum

Just the word ‘bum’ in a book(!) was enough to start the giggling.  But then there’s the gamut of bottom jokes that go along with it.  Truly – bum jokes do seem to bring out the schoolboy in any age. read the full post here

when 450 x 431 pigasso.jpg

5. When Pigasso Met Mootisse

It’s the absurdity that appeals here – two famous artists consumed with pride and jealousy – and acting ridiculously as a result. It’s funny stuff – and while we’re laughing at Pigasso and Mootisse, we’re really laughing at ourselves and our own petty jealousies. read the full post here

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Quotable: Brownie Downing

How wonderful to think and understand that thought.  

Brownie Downing was born at Manly, Sydney in Australia on the 9th May 1924.  While her art is just beautiful, parts could be considered controversial today, as historian Robert Holden noted: "Today, Downing’s stylised work would probably not survive the more rigorous tests of political correctness. But .... this is more a reflection of changing times and social values than of Downing herself."  

His last sentence is a well composed reminder about how the historical lens works in our lives. 

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Review: Peaceful Heroes

I confess that I am not a big fan of the whole hero culture that we seem to have going.  Too often the ‘heroes’ aren’t heroic and are anything but role model material.  But Peaceful Heroes is a collection of super short biographies of people who have impacted the world positively and peacefully. 

I think you’ll have heard of most of them – but there are probably some new names in the list too.  For the most part they are people born without special privilege who worked at great risk to bring a bit more good into the world.

The first peaceful hero is my personal hero and ultimate role model -  Jesus of NazarethPeaceful Heroes is careful to note that different people have different beliefs about Jesus, and it does a really nice job of respecting all beliefs (including atheists and agnostics).

Others on the list include Sojourner Truth, Corrie Ten Boom (another personal favourite), Martin Luther King Jr, and William Feehan (a New York City firefighter who died rescuing people on 9/11). 

There are 14 peaceful heroes in all, and their biographies stand alone, so one biography can be read at a time, as the mood or need strikes.  It’s a great selection of heroes in varying circumstances and times.

I also like that the selections are not without controversy – as the book itself says in the biography of Clara Barton: “Most heroes, peaceful or non-peaceful, have both fans and enemies.  What their fans call heroism, their enemies might call troublemaking.” 

This is great starting off point to talk about what makes a hero and to try to understand how any of the Peaceful Heroes might also be considered a trouble-maker by someone else – and then to think about which way we personally lean.

The book doesn’t assume prior knowledge, making it great for younger people who may not have heard of the historical circumstances that surround the various heroes.  For example, in Corrie Ten Boom’s biography there’s a very short and simple explanation of Nazi Germany and who Hitler was. 

All of which is not to suggest that the book doesn’t take a moral stance – it is absolutely aligned with peaceful actions and solutions and it calls an evil act an evil act. There is a clear delineation between the Peaceful Heroes and the evil they are fighting against – which is great, especially for children in the 6 -12 age group who often search for black and white constructions.

Some of the values and lessons available from the Peaceful Heroes include:

  • Jesus of Nazareth – pick a value, any value – but the biography in the book focuses on kindness to enemies

  • Mahatma Gandhi – peace, equality and independence

  • Ginetta Sagan – courage and fairness

  • Abdul Ghaffar Khan – justice and non-violence

  • Paul Rusesabagina – standing against authority and ignoring racial vilification

While this is a brilliant book for children from, say, 6 years upwards, it makes a very nice coffee table book for an adult household too – the art is striking and lends a wonderful connectivity to the varied stories – it’s a book that will lead to many interesting thoughts and discussions, and hopefully some new (and perhaps more worthy) heroes. 

And perhaps most importantly, it may lead to thoughts about the personal peaceful heroes in our lives: parents, friends, neighbours, community and church leaders and countless others who through small peaceful acts earn the title ‘hero’ from someone.

By Jonah Winter  Illustrated by Sean Addy

Snippet “One thing is for certain: In any war, innocent people are going to get hurt - people who are just going about their daily lives.”

Review: The Butter Man

Have you ever had to wait for something you really wanted or even needed – and has that waiting felt like it would never end? 

The baba (father) in this story tells his little girl about a time when he was a child living in Morocco.  There was a drought and his family was running out of food and so they ate less and less each day.  Eventually the gnawing hunger pervaded all of his thoughts and his mother came up with a way to distract him – from his own hunger and from the other worries in his life. 

It was her way of making the waiting a little easier and it worked brilliantly. (It’s a clever and loving solution – but I’m trying not to give away too much of the story!)

This is lovely look at a boy’s life in Morocco and at his life as a grown man and father.  There are lovely connections between the two worlds – couscous for dinner, a parent who goes away to work, a child who is hungry, a parent who finds a way to calm the child till it’s time to eat, and both stories culminate in a shared family meal.

The simplicity of life in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco appears charming and peaceful but the continuing drought has a profound impact and while there is still peace and love, there is also concern and hardship.  Quite a nice lesson that peace and love can in fact exist side by side with concern and hardship. 

There are quite a lot of words in this story, but the pictures provide some prompts and the font is clear and large – making it ideal for beginning readers to read to themselves.  It’s also lovely for when you have a bit of extra time for at bedtime. 

The rather naïve style of the illustrations matches very nicely with the homey telling and evokes Morocco in a way that is clear but not intrusive of the story.

The Butter Man will help to nourish ideas like:

  • it’s alright to have to wait sometimes – and sometimes it’s inescapable

  • families matter – in good times or bad

  • even really significant problems can be made less impactful when we think of others

  • there is value in delayed gratification sometimes

  • it’s hard to beat simple pleasures or simple foods

  • across time and cultures, there is more that connects us than separates us

These are some of the key ideas I hope to settle in the hearts and minds of my children – and myself.

This is also great to read in times of drought – to see the impact of drought and to remember how insulated many of us are from the vagaries of life.  Or when families have to spend time apart for a greater cause. Or when you’re having couscous for dinner!

By Elizabeth and Ali Alalou Illustrated by Julie Klear Essakalli

Snippet  “But even as we sat around the steaming platter with our spoons held high, we had to wait just one minute more.  Just long enough to say our blessing.”

And a little PS - Elizabeth's latest book is The Eighty-Dollar Champion and Julie creates gorgeous hand-mades for kids.  Her label is Zid Zid Kids.  

Review: You and Me, Murrawee

We featured You and Me, Murrawee earlier in 2014 - it struck a chord in many hearts and we're repeating it here in honour of National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June, 2014):  

Some stories have a profound message – one that everyone needs to hear more than once – one that is just as relevant to a toddler as it is to the toddler’s grandpa.  This is You and Me, Murrawee.

The story is told as the musings of a young girl – maybe 10 or 12 years old – who has a gift for seeing what is no longer present.  The girl is on a family camping trip in the Australian bush and as she plays and paddles and watches her family, she senses the life of an indigenous girl, 200 years ago, doing many of the same things she is doing. 

She calls the girl Murrawee which is the Ngarrindjeri people’s word for elder sister.  There’s nothing of the supernatural in this book – just the careful imaginings of a girl who is sensitive to her environment and to the blessings of living in Australia.

The children – the girl and Murrawee – run past ancient rocks, they paddle in the same river, they watch their fathers teaching their brothers, they eat dinner with their families and sleep on the same river bank.  There’s a lovely connection between a modern child and a girl who walked that path before.  There’s also an awareness of inheritance and responsibility.

It’s hard for an author and illustrator to give value to two distinct lifestyles at the same time – but that’s what this book does.  And that’s the profound message of this book.  Both lifestyles are valuable, both are joyful and loving, both are interesting.  And there is tremendous intersection in the things all people ultimately value – family, time, nature, room to grow.

Although this would be a great book for 3-6 year olds – the time that children generally start noticing race and often start stereotyping as they try to create order in their world – it is not really about race.  It’s more about culture and heritage.  And particularly about the intersection of different cultures.  

Read aloud, You and Me Murrawee calls for soft tones, quiet times and pondering – it’s a lovely one to read after a busy day. 

And you’ll probably be left with a hankering to go camping as well as an overwhelming sense of privilege if you live in Australia.

By Kerri Hashmi Illustrated by Felicity Marshall 

(also searchable by: Australia Day, Sorry Day) 


Review: Terence the Toilet Travels The World

I mentioned to my adult children that I was going to do a top 5 on ‘poo’ books, and Terence the Toilet was the first book they each thought of!

When you’re a ‘bog-standard’ toilet, chances are there are magazines left in the bathroom with you – magazines that show ‘exotic bathrooms in exotic places all over the world’.  And that can leave you feeling restless and unsatisfied.  That’s what happened to Terence – and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that most of us have felt that way too after leafing through the magazines left in the bathroom.

Terence decides it’s time to see the world and so off he goes – to Wall Street, Paris, the African Plains and even more places.   Everywhere he goes he meets other toilets who are leading fascinating lives, but still he feels restless.  So he goes in search of a guru toilet.

Eventually he finds the wise guru toilet – who turns out to be a hole in the ground, having shed all his worldly goods and cares. The guru’s advice to Terence: ‘The only journey you need to take is the journey within.’  That’s all it takes – Terence is transformed – into a second hole in the ground.

I don’t like giving away too much of a story – especially when it builds as carefully as this one does – but this is an out of print book so you’ll need to find a second hand copy or a library copy.  That's why I wanted to make the whole story fairly clear.  It’s such a good one, so funny and so important at the same time.

The ‘funny’ comes from the juxtaposition of a toilet into the troubled thoughts of modern western society and from the drawings that somehow manage to give Terence - and the other toilets he meets - distinct personalities. 

And then there are the various situations Terence finds himself in.  For example - he “lunched with the sophisticated bidets of Parisian hotels and learnt all about the history of butt rinsing etiquette…then he ventured even further afield to the parched African plains to see the roaming portaloo tribes he had heard so much about…’ 

Terence the Toilet is funny and memorable but it also has a lot to say – things like:

  • there’s nothing wrong with a ‘bog-standard’ life…

  • ... but if you want another life it’s available to anyone – even a toilet!

  • perhaps contentment isn’t found in the high life after all

  • vastly different lives have much in common – the Wall Street toilets and the pygmy toilets of the Amazon are still both toilets

  • it’s probably not a good idea to take some aspects of life too seriously

  • it’s worth the struggle to keep searching to find the contentment you’re looking for

And it is really good for a laugh!  Keep an eye out for it.

By Ann Louise Stubbs

Snippet:  ‘Please, oh wise guru toilet, I have travelled so far, I have seen so many places, but I still do not know where I belong!  Where should I go next?!!’

Review: Someday

Heavens this is a beautiful book!  It’s a teary one – a lovely wander through the life of a baby girl told through the eyes of her mother.  Truly – I get goosebumps every time I read it.

A young mother holds her newborn and kisses her fingers.  Then tells the baby of her mother-wishes for the baby’s life.  Things like, ‘Someday your eyes will be filled with a joy so deep that they shine.’ And even things like ‘Someday you will hear something so sad that you will fold up with sorrow.’ 

These are not a mother’s wishes for a simple, clean and shiny life – rather they are a mother’s wishes for a life for her baby that embraces all that life has to offer. 

There’s a lovely progression as the mother talks to her child from ‘one day’ in the past, to ‘sometimes’ in the present, to ‘someday’ in the future.  And the gentle and inviting illustrations take the child from baby, to childhood, adolescence, adulthood and through to old age.

While lovely to read with a young child, this will probably strike the deepest chords with that young child’s parents.  It’s my go-to baby shower or pregnancy present for mothers who are expecting girls and I gave it to my daughter-in-law Kathleen when she first announced that I was getting a granddaughter.  (Kathleen recently told me that when she first read she thought it was nice. But now that that granddaughter is here and profoundly impacting her family and the world everyday, Kathleen says she can’t read it without crying!)

For a young child this is a story about:

  • how life progresses

  • the joys still to come

  • connections between generations

  • Joy

For the child’s parents it’s about:

  • love that isn’t changed by circumstances

  • hope, dreams and wishes and good things to come

  • connections between generations!

  • Joy!

This is an especially nice gift book for:

  • parents of girls

  • parents-to-be (of girls or boys because ultimately the wishes are the same)

  • adult daughters leaving home and embarking on a new life

By Alison McGhee  Illustrated by Peter H Reynolds

(also searchable by:  Mother, Mom, Mum, Daughter

Snippet “Someday, a long time from now, your own hair will glow silver in the sun.  And when that day comes, love, you will remember me.”

The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business

The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business

Wanna hear a joke?

There was once a family of moles who decided to go for a walk in the sunshine.  First there was Daddy Mole, then Mummy Mole, then Sister Mole, then Brother Mole, then Baby Mole – all walking in a line with their noses to the ground. 

Suddenly Daddy Mole stopped and said, “I smell honey – do you smell honey Mummy Mole?” 

Mummy Mole sniffed the air and said, “I do smell honey – do you smell honey Sister Mole?” 

Sister Mole sniffed the air then said, “I do smell honey – do you smell Brother Mole?” . . .

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Kissed by the Moon

Kissed by the Moon was William's 'new baby' present.

Kissed by the Moon is more a lullaby with pictures than a story book. The perfect ‘snuggle down to sleep’ book.  In it, a baby grows and moves through early life to the tune of beautifully worded wishes from a loving adult.

The illustrations are classic Alison Lester (the little house on the title page is almost the same as the ‘welcome home’ house in The Journey Homeone of my favourite houses ever).  There’s a fairy floss sunset over a peaceful bay, a riotous flower garden, loyal pets playing on an ocean shore line, Australian animals peeking out of a forest and so much more to enjoy.

The words read like lyrics or like a cheerful prayer.  There is a certain lilt to them when read aloud. And they’ll bring an internal sigh of longing from any adult because they do indeed represent many of our very best wishes for our babies.

If I had to choose a favourite I suppose it would be ‘May you grow sleepy at sunset, sing to the stars, and drift into dreams.  But that might be my subconscious talking since none of my babies could sleep at night!

At the end of a weary day or a joyful one, this little book will probably come out again and again.  I bought it as a welcome present for my new grandson William – it suits his family and some of my fondest wishes for him are right there too.

Kissed by the Moon is lovely for:

  • New Parents or parents-to-be
  • Babies and toddler who need gentle words and soothing tones to settle to sleep
  • Children who have behaved badly and need to sit closely with someone they love and have kind words spoken to them
  • Australian ex-pat families who want to remember the beauty in Australia
  • Teens and young adults embarking on new adventures -  because we wish the same for them.

By Alison Lester

Snippet: “May you, my baby, follow the rivers, wander the mountains, and walk in the wild.” 

At the time of writing, Kissed by the Moon was only available from Booktopia.

At the time of writing, Kissed by the Moon was only available from Booktopia.


Vesuvius Poovius

Vesuvius Poovius

Vesuvius is a problem solver – and Rome has a big problem – a poo problem.  No one knows what to do with all the poo.  It’s so bad that ‘Some people even dropped it into other people’s pockets when they weren’t looking.”  (Now if that line doesn’t bring at least a grimacy smirk to your face I don’t know what will.)

Because poo is such a problem, it’s also a “forbiddenus wordus’, which leads to a whole slew of hilarious euphemisms like ‘huge daffodil’ and ‘cola cube’.  Aside from all the usual uses for a poo book, this one does a great job of teaching how and when and why to use a euphamism . . .

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The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas

The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas

We have quite a collection of princess-and-the-pea stories – mainly because Alec (our second son) was called Princess for quite a few years after a camp where he slept on a whole pile of mattresses.

This one is great.  Prince Henrik needs to find a proper princess to be his wife.  Trouble is, he wants a wife who likes hockey and camping.  These are difficult qualities to find in a real princess and when he looks at his sister-in-law, who passed the infamous pea test, he’s not so sure that’s the best way to choose a princess.  Henrik decides to adjust the pea test to suit him! 

Potential princesses fail the test miserably . . .

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The Fly

The Fly

Fair warning – this one is kind of gross.  It’s the story of a fly who learns that swimming can be very dangerous – well, if you go swimming in a toilet bowl. The fly is merrily swimming away when suddenly everything goes dark, then it starts to ‘rain’ and then . . .

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Giveaway - The Myth of the Spoiled Child

This one is closed - thank you so much to everyone who participated - the winner was Katie L from Vancouver, Canada.

This giveaway will run from Tuesday 13 May to Monday 2 June -  and a computer app will randomly select the winner.

There are four ways to win:

  1. subscribe - here's the link
  2. send an email to hello@wherethebooksare.com and write The Myth of the Spoiled Child giveaway in the subject line
  3. like us on facebook
  4. share our page on facebook

 You can enter more than once, every  'like' or 'share' is automatically counted. 

And if you're already receiving our newsletters you are automatically entered that way.

Also, if there's any doubt in your mind about how much we like this book, just read Kim's review here.


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I Love Lemonade

I Love Lemonade

A sequel to Baa Baa Smart Sheep, this time Quirky Turkey tries to take revenge on Little Baa Baa by giving Little Baa Baa a glass of ‘lemonade’ – it all backfires horribly. And then insult is added to injury. Poor Quirky Turkey – once again the butt of Little Baa Baa’s quick wit.

This is great to read with Baa Baa Smart Sheep – the reaction usually goes something like: Belly laugh, “so disgusting,” “poor turkey.”  I guess we’ve all been the turkey at some point – and possibly the sheep at some point too . . .

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The Duck in the Gun

The Duck in the Gun

First published in 1969, The Duck in the Gun has become a story for the ages.  It was newly illustrated in 1984, adding to the humour of the situation and the story. Here’s what happens:  A General and his army are about to start a war with a town, when they discover a duck has made a nest in the gun. 

Rather than just firing the gun anyway, the General approaches the Prime Minister of the town with a series of ideas and compromises – maybe they could borrow one of the town’s guns – maybe they could share a gun.  Eventually the General and the Prime Minister agree to postpone the war until the ducklings hatch.  In the meantime .....

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Our newest Top 5 are here!

Our newest Top 5 are here!

Why scatalogical (poo) books?  Because poo is funny – especially if you’re developing a sense of humour and trying to understand how bodies work and how society works.  It’s taboo but harmless, gross but universal and embarrassing, but safe .....

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Limpopo Lullaby

Limpopo Lullaby

In February and March 2000, Mozambique had an awful flood – it was devastating to the families, villages and cities there.  As always, when natural disaster strikes, especially so far away, we watched the effects of the flood with heavy hearts. I was pregnant with my last baby at the time and so one particular story is etched in my memory.  It’s the story of Sophia Chunbango whose home was flooded and who climbed a tree with many others to escape the flood waters.  Sophia however was heavily pregnant and miraculously ended up giving birth in the tree above the fierce flood waters ..... 

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A backyard chook (chicken) is endlessly entertaining – they’re full of personality, charming to watch and then there’s the eggs.  Peggy is a backyard chook – she has a lovely little house in a suburban back yard with sunflowers and a trampoline.  One day a strong wind blows her into the city (it’s Melbourne I’m pretty sure – but you have to look for clues).  This presents both a dilemma (how will Peggy get home) and a brilliant opportunity to see new things.  Peggy is quite the inquisitive chook, as chooks tend to be, so seeing the city through her eyes is a lot of fun.

This is a great story ....

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Things go amusingly awry when a monster writes a letter to his cousin Fred.  The letter is accidentally delivered to the little boy under whose bed Fred lives.  Then there’s all sorts of confusion as the monster and the boy get ready for a visit that was never meant to be!  Told by both the monster and the boy, we get to see both sides of the story – the anticipation, the apprehension, the preparation and .....

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