To say I’m a little fixated on children’s books (I should specify that it’s picture books I’m referring to) at this stage in my life certainly would not be overstating the fact, I am. I take the two girls to the library every week and take quite a while selecting a great many books to keep us all entertained between visits. Now that Miss Two is old enough, she picks some of the books as well. I’m never sure why certain books have caught her attention but I always add them to the pile praying they are not going to drive me crazy reading them over and over again but there is usually at least one that I try to hide at the bottom of the stack. When I was considering this post I thought I would just do the top five children’s authors, but then I just couldn’t narrow it down, so I’ve split them into two categories, Australian and International authors – stay tuned for part two next week.
After careful consideration and many, many hours of reading them, here are our (Miss Two and my) top five Australian children’s authors.
1. Mem Fox
I really couldn’t put anyone else in the number one spot, she has been a constant in our house from day one. There are so many on our list of favourites, Where is the Green Sheep, Harriet you’ll drive me wild (a great one for Mum’s at the end of their tether!), Sleepy Bears which we read every night to Miss Two for months, Wombat Divine, Time for Bed (though Mr Good HATES this one), A Particular Cow, Koala Lou and the gorgeous Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge. But of all the wonderful stories none quite compare to Possum Magic.
2. Jackie French
I think my affinity with Jackie French books stems as much from the fact that she is something of a gardening guru as from the delightful humour and Australian-ness of her stories. The Wombat books are just too funny, we are especially into Baby Wombat’s Week at the moment. Pete the Sheep still cracks me up and Josephine Wants to Dance is a particular favourite of Miss Two. As a teacher I’ve also read several of her historic novels aimed at young readers and they are terrific too.
3. Pamela Allen
I love the simple stories and delightful characters which fill the pages of Pamela Allen’s books. The Grandpa and Thomas books are wonderful and the quirky, rhyming tales of Mr McGee are great for a giggle. Felix, the story of a cat who gets his head stuck in a jar has also made its way to the top of Miss Two’s pile regularly for the last year or so. Of course it is Who Sank the Boat? that has held the number one favourite Pamela Allen spot from the start and who could argue with that.
4. Rod Clement
Not such a prolific author as the ones above, but his books (or those he wrote with others) are just beautiful. They also rhyme wonderfully and are very funny so I can stand reading them over and over again. The three that we are most familiar with and borrow regularly are Edward the Emu, Edwina the Emu and Olga the Brolga.
5. Margaret Wild
Now we’ve read several of Margaret Wild’s books; Itys Bitsy Babies, Fox, Lucy Goosey, Our Granny and Chatterbox, a particular favourite, and they are all lovely. But it is one book alone that secured the last spot in my list for Margaret Wild and that is Miss Lily’s Fabulous Pink Feather Boa. When we had this from the library I made Miss Two read it every night. It’s just gorgeous, a story of a lonely potoroo finding a place in the world thanks to the help of Miss Lily, a crocodile who runs a guest house and who dances with a pink feather boa every evening.
Honorable mentions go to Alison Lester (Are we there yet?, Noni the Pony and Ernie Dances to the Didgerido), Graeme Base (Waterhole and Animalia), Nick Bland (The Very Cranky Bear and The Very Itchy Bear) and Nettie Hilton (A Proper Little Lady). Even breaking my list in two I couldn’t stick to just five.
I’m sure I’ve missed some absolute classics. Do you have any favourite Australian picture books I should keep an eye out for?
Liz has done the top five of garden pests this week – I’m heading over for some much needed advice.