Six Aussie Picture Books to Hug Tight


Today’s guest post is from the wonderful Sandy Fussell, an award-winning, bestselling Australian children’s author, who is also the in-schools Literary Festival Co-ordinator at The Story Crowd, children’s book reviewer for the Sunday Telegraph Funday supplement and one subject short of an Industrial Maths and Computing degree. Phew! 

Here, Sandy brings us a small sample of some of her favourite picture books by Australian authors and illustrators. TMB

To purchase books in this blog post click on title links or cover images.

6 Aussie picture books to hug tight |

I began collecting picture books for my future children – or so I said. For a wonderful eight-year-window I shared them with those children, until they grew up and moved on. Now I collect picture books for my future grandchildren – or so I say.

Filled with warmth and hope, innocence and wisdom. Filled with important stories, magical words and beautiful illustrations. Here are six Aussie picture books to hug tight.

Florette – Anna Walker

6 picture books to hug tight: FloretteMae loves her garden. She can’t take it with her when she moves to the city so Mum suggests making a new one. The city spreads out over pages of rooftops, pavement and grey rain. Not a green patch in sight.

Mae follows an apple-bird until it disappears into a forest behind glass. A tiny stalk of green peeps through a gap. She carries it home to make a garden. Changing the colour of the city begins with a child and the green sprig in her hand.

Oh, those illustrations. Glorious.

The Fix-It Man – Dimity Powell & Nicky Johnston

6 picture books to hug tight: The Fix-It ManThe Fix-It Man is a thoughtful, caring story of a young child dealing with grief and loss. Dad is amazing at repairing things yet there’s one thing he can’t fix. His peach and honey brew makes Mama feel better but she’s still sore inside.

When the truly terrible thing happens and they face life without her, everything feels broken. Although Dad doesn’t have any cracks or holes, something is wrong. Needles, thread, glue and even tea aren’t the necessary tools for the biggest fix-it job. What’s needed is the love between a dad and daughter.

Twig – Aura Parker

6 picture books to hug tight: TwigNobody notices the new girl at bug school. Heidi is a stick insect, so perfectly camouflaged by the twigs and trunks of the surrounding trees, she’s accidentally woven into a class project. A new class craft project ensures Heidi is never lost in the background again. She finds sometimes it’s handy to be a twig, for basketball, hide-and-seek and helping short friends who can’t reach things.

This book is crawling with the most delightful bugs to ever scuttle and scamper across a page. Perfect for young artists to copy and colour.


Boy – Phil Cummings & Shane Devries

6 Aussie picture books to hug tight: BoyBoy can’t hear or speak, but the village is not a quiet place for anyone else. The forest has been badly burned by a dragon and a battle between the king’s knights and the dragon rages constantly.

When Boy accidentally wanders into the middle of the fighting, he is oblivious to shouted warnings. “Why aren’t you listening?” the king demands. “Why are you fighting?” Boy writes in the sand.

The answer reveals a misunderstanding. The king, the dragon and the knights are the ones who are not listening. Boy’s simple wisdom restores peace.

Through the Gate – Sally Fawcett

6 Aussie picture books to hug tight: Through The GateA young girl looks at her new house with dismay. The roof is drooping and the paint is peeling. The old house is in a new town with a new school. Everything has changed and there’s nothing to smile about.

As the week unfolds and she passes in and out of the front gate, the house changes and the girl’s view of her world changes, too. Each pass through the gate makes the world a little brighter with the discovery of new things. The pages fill with colour creating a beautiful visually poetic story of change, perspective and resilience.

Say Yes – Jennifer Castles and Paul Seden

6 Aussie picture books to hug tight: Say YesSay Yes is about the 1967 referendum which removed discriminatory laws against Aboriginal people. Mandy is not allowed to do the same things as her friend. She can’t swim in the local pool and the teacher says she must go to a different school. Because Mandy is an indigenous Australian.

But people have the power to enact change. Rich with visual imagery, the pages are dominated by black and white drawings, photos and historical documents. Bright colours are used to emphasise hope – for the dresses the girls wear and the referendum result.

This is a significant and necessary book, reinforcing the need to continue working towards friendship, fairness and hope.

To read more about Sandy Fussell and Sad, The Dog, her own ‘picture book to hug tight’, visit her website

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