Outback Pets: a fun 'real people' book that may lead to a request for a pet crocodile!

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As you can see, this is a fun, beautifully illustrated book. Great for ages 2 to 8 years. Which makes it perfect for Ivy and Angus.

They’re both pet-obsessed. We have a dog, but there is always another pet we should get. So far this year the list has included a horse, lamb, little dog with a curly tail, guinea pig, rabbit, hamster, pig and a big dog that can be friends with our dog… but NOT a snake! Thankfully.

In all this discussion and dreaming of pets, ‘Outback Pets’ by Therese Hall and Geoff Cook has become an all-round favourite in our house (it’s their dad Alec’s favourite because it’s the only book we’ve found with his name as one of the protagonists). This is a book, as you would assume, about people living in outback Australia and their pets.

‘There’s plenty of room in Australia’s outback for all kinds of pets…

Some are big,
some are small,
some have feathers,
some have scales,
and most have tails.

Come on a trip around Australia and meet the outback’s amazing pets and their devoted owners.’

Each page is a simple introduction to a person, place and pet accompanied by a fun portrait style illustration. Some of our favourites are Justine from Alice Springs and his goanna Pete, Chris from Darwin and his crocodile Stampy, and Don from Orroroo and his camel Carbine.

 ‘All of the pets and their owners in this book are real. We met them in outback Australia, where they live far from the big cities, in all kinds of landscapes—from the desert to the tropics. If you go to outback Australia, you might meet them, too.’

There are short bio’s for each owner in the back that give nice insights into lives all over Australia. Learning about others helps expand kids’ understanding of the world and broaden their concept of society and our place in it and I particularly like this book because it raises the possibility and excitement that they actually could meet someone from a book!

Published in 2015 by RM Williams Publishing, it’s sadly not in print just now. Well worth the search at specialist book shops though and will very likely be in the library.

Names in this book – Patrick, Justin, Kev, Chris, Mandy, Matt, Tara, Nick, Talia, Don, Poppy, Scarlett, Paris, Athol, Alec, Geoff.

"the book was better"—you hear that a lot after a movie :)


They tell me I say it every time. So yes, I’d love this tote bag!

Unfortunately it doesn’t ship to Australia, but for our north American readers, what a great gift for yourself or a reading friend.

It would be perfect for shopping (for books or anything at all) or an everyday handbag (for carrying books or anything at all).

3 minutes with Kate DiCamillo: the magic of reading aloud

I stare at him, open-mouthed. I’m struck with a sudden knowledge that this boy that I’m so afraid of is in fact just like me. He’s a kid who likes a story.

This just in! Four hours ago, on the PBS News Hour, Kate DiCamillo talked about the magic and power of reading aloud. It was a short but wonderful segment.

I know you’re busy, I really do, so I hope you can find a little time to listen or read the transcript. Spoiler: the kid in the top quote was the school bully :-).

Here’s another small excerpt:

We humans long not just for story, not just for the flow of language, but for the connection that comes when words are read aloud. That connection provides illumination. It lets us see each other.

You might also like this post and this very special book, or a whole host of Kate DiCamillo books.

Bruno: a brilliant book for embracing differences in people and in life

Bruno: a brilliant book for embracing differences in people and in life

ages 2 to 8 years
Most everyone has had almost-perfect days, stupid days, rainy days, peculiar days and uninteresting days. It’s the mix that makes life interesting. Bruno is a cat who tells the story of six very different days in his life.

They’re the sort of days we’ve all had—with surprising, quirky twists. Among those days, there are totally relatable moments, like this one:

That day, the power went out on my street, At night, so as not to be in the dark, I lit candles. It was very pretty. Since they don’t happen very often, I really like days when the power goes out.

And totally fantastic days, like when Bruno and his friend Ringo, a horse, find that they can breathe underwater and end up in a backwards swimming race with their new friend Bup, a fish. Bruno muses:

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Mark & Rowan Sommerset: It's not a book, but it's something we made!

Mark & Rowan Sommerset: It's not a book, but it's something we made!

We’ve long been fans of the the uber-talented, uber-funny, author/illustrator duo Mark and Rowan Sommerset so, when the email came to say they’re selling their home, I immediately checked it out. Well, my oh my! Their publishing arm is worthily called Dreamboat Books and their house is all of that. I couldn’t wait to share it with you! Video below, but first click here for a gorgeous slide show (there’s a luxury yurt!)

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The Huge Bag of Worries: a comforting tale for little or big worriers

The Huge Bag of Worries: a comforting tale for little or big worriers

ages 3 to 10 years
My Ivy is a worrier; she comes from a long line of worriers on my side so there was really no escaping it. She worries that she will miss out, that someone might speak unkindly and that she won’t get to hug me when I’m in hospital having the baby. Nearly every day there is a new worry or 10. I wasn’t really sure how to help her because it’s something I only learned to deal with in adulthood, and those methods don’t really work for a 5 year old.

Talking to a friend, she recommended The Huge Bag of Worries (she uses in her speech pathology practise) and it has been a game changer!

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a timely reminder (to me) that reading together should be a treat, not a prescription

When I say to a parent, ‘read to a child’, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.
— Mem Fox

This from Mem Fox really resonated with me today.

I always love reading to my kids, it’s one of the highlights of my day and gives me rest from constant busyness + connections on a physical, mental and emotional level and great discussions that give me insight into their amazing minds.

 But, in my enthusiasm to read many and varied books to them, our reading doesn’t always come across like chocolate (sometimes you’d think I’m trying to take them to the dentist!).

 So I’m grateful for this timely reminder that what is most important is helping my kids love books, not how many we read in a day.