stories for the adventure that is school (or any other big life-changing adventure)

Savannah is off to pre-school this year, and William and Ivy start Kindy. In honour of these major life moments, here's a small collection of books that are lovely to read in the first week or two of school. I hope you find something that feels right for your new (or returning) school kid.

I’m going to read Off to School Baby Duck to all three of our new school kids via Marco Polo this week too. It’s a cute story of a baby duck who is scared to go to school but, predictably, has a good day. It was a favourite for their fathers long ago—mostly out of print now, but full of nostalgia for our family.

I hope the first week of school* goes smoothly if you have a little person you love who is starting that big adventure!

* School in Australia runs on the calendar year, but even if you’re well and truly settled into the routine now, I’m sure you’ll enjoy those stories.

a beautiful story of friendship, love, hope, joy and newfound strength—perfect reading for a new year


Summer is in full swing in Tasmania and everywhere we look trees are laden with fruit. We're closely watching our plum and nectarine trees, eagerly awaiting the first ripe fruit, and I think this is what drew us to Together Always when we saw it in the library. That and the wonderfulness of friendship for the start of a new year.

The opening line is:

From time to time, there were cherries and plums in the orchard.
From time to time, there were apples and pears.

The story continues about the idyllic lives of Pig and Goat—they're the best of friends:

... no matter what hung from the trees, Pig and Goat were always together.
Side by side.

When Pig got lost, Goat found the way.
When Goat felt giddy, Pig told a story.

We will stick together, said Goat.

Pig and Goat do stick together—in the sun, in the orchard, in the stream. They help each other as friends do, and life is wonderful. But one day Goat feels BIG. He's ready to leave the orchard to explore the world and, although Pig isn’t, friends stick together. So off they go.

Together through the gate.
Together through the mist.
Together over roots.
Together over rocks.
Climbing higher and higher.
But Pig longed for the orchard.

Pig wants to go home and Goat doesn't, so the friends finally say goodbye. Their worlds are different without their friends, but they find that they are stronger because of what they've learned from each other. Eventually Pig and Goat discover that it doesn’t matter what is between them, they will be together. Always.

I've had some lovely discussions with Ivy around this book. It's great for building emotional resilience, emotional independence, accepting change, and for understanding that even as friends grow and go their ways, the friendship can remain. 

Together Always is a truly beautiful book—the story and the illustrations are full of hope, life and joy. All of us at WTBA wish you the same for 2018.

Amazon  -  Book Depository

Book Depository has free postage anywhere in the world and great pricing, but Amazon might be cheaper for North American readers.

by Edwina Wyatt illustrated by Lucia Masciullo – Hardie Grant Egmont, 2016
ages 1 to 8 years  /  picture books + emotional resilience, heartwarmers

sending wishes for a joyous Christmas and a New Year filled with love and peace

It's that wonderful time of year again and, as we write the last post for the season, we thought you might like this quote, found on Twitter via @HappySonship:


Christmas is about believing what a woman said about her sex life.

Christmas is about a family finding safety as refugees.

Christmas is about a child in need receiving support from the wealthy.

Christmas is about God identifying himself with the marginalized not the powerful.

Amen to that.

Thank you so very much for reading along with us throughout 2017, your support and presence is appreciated more than you can probably tell. We'll be back on 15 January but please still feel free to make contact with us at any time. And to browse the site, of course.

We hope you have a lovely break and that you're able to refresh and renew your spirits; may you have good health, joy and peace in abundance—and always a loved one to read to.

See you next year!

Joan, Kim, Samantha, Jesse, Louisa xxxxx

our really great (new-ish) Christmas Eve tradition—choosing, giving and opening books!

our really great (new-ish) Christmas Eve tradition—choosing, giving and opening books!

Our family is still young and we don’t have a lot of traditions yet, but one that we borrowed from Kim when Alec and I were newly married is giving and opening books on Christmas Eve.

Kim and I get the job (joy really) of choosing the books for our families, and we hide them away till the night. But those choices are sometimes pretty difficult! Here's what I've bought for this year—I think I did well:

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classic literature isn't just for grownups

classic literature isn't just for grownups

ages 0 to 3 years
One-year-old Angus’s favourite book at the moment is A Christmas Carol from the BabyLit series. 

If you’re not familiar with BabyLit, they're board book primers (covering things like animals, counting, sounds, flowers and much, much more) that are a sweet introduction to classic literature. The words are simple and each page connects an object to a story via engaging artwork. For example, in A Christmas Carol:

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'cause Christmas is different (and the same) everywhere

'cause Christmas is different (and the same) everywhere

ages 3 to grownup
I’ve been a John Williamson fan since childhood and a few months ago we were lucky enough to go to one of his concerts as a family. Amazing. There's really nothing quite like a live performance.

During intermission, I came across Christmas in Australia. I had no idea John Williamson had written a children’s book and just had to buy it—my only regret was that the kids were so exhausted by the end of the show we couldn't wait in the line to get it

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the latest in the Matilda Saga—every bit as wonderful as we'd hoped

the latest in the Matilda Saga—every bit as wonderful as we'd hoped

I’ve just finished this new book in the Matilda Saga. Actually, you could say I just started it too since I started it last night and finished it this morning! All of us at WTBA love this series, so imagine my delight when I spotted Facing the Flame on the shelves at Avid Reader yesterday, even though the official release date is December 1.

When Louisa saw me reading it she sighed: “It’s short.”—and added with mock exasperation: “Jackie French!” We always hope that the next Matilda Saga book will be in the 600 page realm so that we can enjoy the characters for longer.

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a one-of-a-kind book of elephant sized opposites—and surprises!

a one-of-a-kind book of elephant sized opposites—and surprises!

a lovely book for all ages
'Opposites' books are pretty great—and not uncommon. They're wonderful for building kids' vocabularies and usually simple enough to keep even the little ones interested. Elephant Elements is a book of opposites, but it's not the common variety—more like one-of-a-kind.

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imagining kindness, sharing, abundance, and equality

imagining kindness, sharing, abundance, and equality

ages 2 years to adult
In The Power and The Glory, Graham Greene wrote: “Hate is a lack of imagination.” Perhaps it follows that love is an abundance of imagination. There’s plenty of both to go around in the world just now, so I suppose the thing to do is notice imagination, encourage it, and let it build.

Sometimes we think of imagination as the stuff of fantasy worlds—The Lord of The Rings scaled down to everyday life, if you like. And that’s a wonderful way to imagine. But John Lennon’s Imagine reminds us that there’s more to imagination.

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