Aussie Bites, Nibbles, Chomps, Solos and Mates

Australian Animals

Australian Books: Presentation at 2014 ECIS Librarians' Conference

Australian Children's Fantasy

Australian Children's Fiction

Australian Children's Nonfiction

Australian Children's Picture Books

Australian Fiction Series popular with young readers

Australian History Curriculum Fiction

Australian History Curriculum Non-Fiction

Australian Indigenous Peoples

Autobiography and Biography

Big Books

Bilingual Picture Books

British Children's Fiction

British Children's Picture Books

Early Childhood

ESL and Low Literacy

Graphic Novels

Great Books to Read Aloud


International Children's Books

Middle East and North Africa


New Zealand


Sophisticated Picture Books

Strong Australian Theme

Wordless Picture Books

Good Reads for Grade 2 & 3

Good Reads for Grade 8 & 9

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — 2015 Winners, Honour Books and Shortlist

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — 2014 Winners, Honour Books and Shortlist

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2014

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2013

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2012

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2011

Australian CBC Book of the Year Awards — Short List 2010

Australian CBC Book of the Year Award Winners 1965 - 2012

Carnegie Award Winners 2012

Kate Greenaway Award Winners 2012

Guardian Award Winners 2012

Nestle Awards Winners 2012

Fiction Resource Books for the PYP

Non-Fiction Resource Books for the PYP

Professional Resource Books for the PYP

Literature to support the Attitudes of the PYP

Literature to support the Concepts listed of the PYP

Literature to support the Learner Profile of the PYP

Fiction Books to support the MYP Areas of Interaction

Non-fiction Resource Books to support the MYP Areas of Interaction

Fiction to support the IB Learner Profile for the MYP

Literature Studies in English

Books for IBDP Visual Arts

Books for IBDP Theory of Knowledge

Books for IBDP and the School Library

Australian Adult Fiction

Fiction from East and Southeast Asia

Fiction from India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka


Books with a strong Australian theme suitable for Elementary and Middle School

AUSTRAL ED Contact Details:
a division of gleebooks
PO Box 486
NSW 2037

Phone: 61 2 9660 2333
Fax: 61 2 9660 3597

ABN  87 000 357 317

June 2012

This list of books with a strong Australian theme should be of special interest to Australian teachers teaching overseas or to teachers wanting to further explore Australian themes.  If you would like more information about particular Australian authors or illustrators, or a wider range of suggestions of Australian fiction, picture books, books about Aborigines, or non-fiction about Australia, there are more comprehensive lists of recommended books on our website   or contact me on

Please Note   All prices are in Australian dollars and include the new 10% GST tax.   However this GST does not apply to exports from Australia.

Send orders to Austral Ed by email to    Payment can be made with Bank cheques in Australian dollars, by direct bank transfer or by credit card especially for personal orders.  Freight is sent by the most economical method, depending on urgency.

Recommended by Kate Shepherd and Mandy Clarke


Jeannie Baker
Jeannie Baker has an international reputation because of her intricate collage work. 
Where the Forest meets the Sea  hardback 9780862033170 27.95  pb 9780744513059 $16.95  Big Book 9780744563016  $44.95 is set in the Daintree rainforest in northern Queensland.

Graeme Base
My Grandma lived in Gooligulch  pb 9780140509410 $16.95 has stunning illustrations of emus, lizards, galahs and others.   Humorous verse text.

Thelma Catterwell
Sebastian lives in a Hat  illus by Kerry Argent   pb  9781862910980  $13.99    The true story of Sebastian, the baby wombat who was orphaned and lived the first few months of his life in a woollen hat.

C J Dennis

A Bush Christmas illus by Dee Huxley  pb 9781742032078  $16.95

Written in 1931, this is a much-loved poem about a very Australian Christmas in the bush.  It is a stiflingly hot day and Mum is cooking the traditional turkey and vegetables, followed by hot plum pudding. Dee Huxley brings the family and the hot dry dusty countryside vividly to life through wry, at times satirical illustration..  This picture book would be great for discussion of Christmas in different lands.   (4 – 10 years)

Mem Fox
Mem is extremely well known because of the success of Possum Magic, illus by Julie Vivas  hardback 9781862915640 $29.99 pb 9781862915657 $15.99, Big Book 9781862916678  $39.99 and she is a wonderful storyteller.  Also:
Wombat Divine  illus by Kerry Argent pb 9781862918412  $15.99    Wombat, who is a most appealing creature, wanted desperately to take part in the Christmas nativity play but for each part he was too big, or too small or ....    A marvellous text to read aloud with illustrations that have charm and humour.

Jackie French
Diary of a Wombat  illustrated by Bruce Whatley  hardback 9780207199950 $24.95 
This is a very funny book, full of irony and whimsical humour.  Bruce Whatley's illustrations of this  hefty, very determined but endearing wombat are also a delight.  The text is very simple but because of the layers of irony children would perhaps need to be about five years old before they could really appreciate the humour.

Bob Graham
Through his own very idiosyncratic cartoon style of illustration and gentle sense of humour, Bob Graham creates wonderful stories about families. 
Greetings from Sandy Beach  pb 9780850915211 $16.99    A superb portrait of a family camping trip to the beach!   Winner of the CBC Picture Book of the Year Award 1991.

Gracie Greene
Tjarany/Roughtail (and Joe Tramacchi and Lucille Gill)   pb 9781875641307  $22.95  
This is a beautiful and innovative book from the Aboriginal publisher Magabala in Broome, Western Australia.  Ostensibly it's a picture book, but it also combines traditional stories with stunning art in the traditional style with information on Aboriginal culture and language.   Winner of numerous awards, it is a book for all ages.

John Heffernan  
Two Summers   illus by Freya Blackwood    pb 9781865045979 $15.99        The difference between two summers on an Australian farm is graphically illustrated but subtly told by a young boy pondering the difference between the last year when Rick came to stay on the farm and this year when the farm is stricken by drought.

Sheena Knowles
Edward the Emu  illus by Rod Clement  pb 9780207170515  $14.99      Edward is the most expressive emu imaginable as he shows his boredom at being an emu and tries to imitate the other animals in the zoo. The sequel is Edwina the Emu  pb 9780207189142  $14.95.

Alison Lester
Her illustration style has a charming simplicity.  
In Imagine pb 9781741147124   $14.95 there are detailed scenes of children at play among the animals of the jungle, ocean, farm, Australian bush, dinosaur swamp etc. Bordering the page are the names of all the animals shown in the illustrations.  So there is lots of searching and learning.
Also Magic Beach  hardback 9781742373126  $19.99  pb 9781741144888 $14.95  Big Book $39.99    A description of a beach so beautiful it is like magic.
My Farm  pb 9781741147865 $14.95      Life on an Australian farm. 

Ernie Dances to the Didgeridoo   pb 9780733621055  $16.99     A simple but vibrant introduction to Aboriginal life and to the tropical seasons in the north of Australia.  
Are We There Yet? A Journey around Australia  hardback 9780670880676  $24.95    vividly depicts a family journey by campervan around Australia.  Told though the eyes of 8 year old Grace it describes the many adventures and different landscapes of Australia.

Pamela Lofts ed
An Aboriginal Story series  series  pb $16.99 each
A collection of picture books of simply told traditional Aboriginal stories illustrated and told by Aboriginal people.  Very appealing for younger readers.  (5 - 9 years)
The Bat & the Crocodile   9781865046273                             

Dunbi the Owl   9781865046266
The Echidna & the Shade Tree

How the Birds got their Colours    9781865046242             

How the Kangaroos got their Tails   9781865046259
The Kangaroo & the
Porpoise   9781865046297
Warnayarra - The Rainbow Snake

When the Snake bites the Sun    9781865046280

Jill McDougall
Anna the Goanna and other Poems  illus by Jenny Taylor pb 9780855756161 $19.95       A vibrant collection of poems which have been inspired by the author's experiences while teaching in remote Aboriginal communities.  As well as lively poems that children will enjoy, the book and its often humorous illustrations offer an insight into the everyday life of children who live in remote Aboriginal communities.     (8 - 15 years)

John Marsden
The Rabbits  illus by Shaun Tan  hardback 9780734410788  $28.99  pb 9780734411365 $17.99      A sophisticated picture book for middle & secondary students.   A powerful allegory which surveys, with the assistance of extraordinarily innovative illustrations, the impact rabbits (and human rabbits) have had on the Australian land.   Winner of the CBC Picture Book of the Year Award 1999.

Penny Matthews
A Year on Our Farm  illus by Andrew McLean  pb 9781862914926 $15.99     This picture book is a vibrant detailed account of a year on an Australian farm.   The text is simple but the illustrations add complex detail as we see the children helping their parents in the many activities round a farm.   The book is a celebration of the seasons on an Australian farm in the country, not in the harsh outback but a softer Australian countryside.

A B Paterson
Some of the most well known and popular poems by Australia's most well loved poet who wrote at the turn of the last century, beautifully illustrated by a variety of artists.
Waltzing Matilda  illus Desmond Digby  pb  9780207170980 $14.99  The edition illustrated by Freya Blackwood also contains an audio CD pb 9781865048161  $19.99

Mulga Bill's Bicycle illus by K & D Niland  pb $14.95  IBBY Illustration Diploma 1976

The Man from Snowy River   This famous poem is available in two editions, each illustrated by a different illustrator.  The version illustrated by A Macarthur-Onslow is a classic  pb 9780207157080 $14.99,  whereas the version illustrated by Freya Blackwood pb 9781865046969 $15.99 was published in 2008.

Elaine Russell
A is for Aunty  pb 9780733308727  $14.99       Elaine Russell's vibrant colourful illustrations show us the life she remembers as a child living on a mission in northern New South Wales.   With each letter in this alphabet book there is a short text which gives us vivid images of racing Billycarts, of being chased by Emus or of picking Quandongs.      (7 - 12 years)

Jenny Wagner
The Bunyip of Berkeley's Creek illus by Ron Brooks   pb 9780140501261   $14.95      A classic with a marvellous text and illustrations.  The bunyip stirs from the billabong but doesn't know who he is and none of the animals or people that he meets are much help.  Winner of the CBC Picture Book of the Year Award 1974.

Nadia Wheatley
My Place illus by Donna Rawlins hardback 9781921150708 $29.95 pb 9781921150654  $19.95      Brilliant in concept and in execution.  By moving backwards in decades from 1989, the book shows how a particular neighbourhood in Sydney has changed from an urban street to the first white settlement and earlier still to the time when the Aborigines lived there. The story is told through the eyes of the various children who lived there.  Winner of CBC Book of the Year Award Younger Readers 1989.


Elaine Forrestal
Someone Like Me  pb 9780140380927  $16.95      Winner of the 1998 CBC Award for Younger Readers.  Tas gets into a lot of trouble for an ordinary kid living in the country.  Why do certain kids pick on him and why does he react so fiercely?  An absorbing well written story.      (7 - 11)

Jackie French
Jackie French is a wonderful storyteller who has written vividly on a wide range of topics.
Walking the Boundaries  pb 9780207200434  $14.95  An historical time-slip novel which looks at the importance of the land.   (10 - 14)

Daughter of the Regiment    pb 9780207196744 $14.95  

A hole in the air in the chook house enables Harry to have a glimpse back in time, to see Cissie who lived more than 150 years ago near the farm where he lives.   A compelling historical time-slip story.    (8 - 12 years)
Soldier on the Hill pb 9780207196379 $16.95  A vivid picture of life in a small Australian country in 1942 as the Japanese were moving closer to Australian shores.

May Gibbs
The Complete Adentures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie  hardback 9780732284282  $39.99, pb 9780732284299 $14.99
An Australian Classic.  The story of the many adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, gumnut babies, who are always under threat from the wicked banksia men.  Delightful illustrations, especially in the hard back edition with a number of colour plates.   (6 - 10 yrs)

Libby Gleeson
My Story: The Rum Rebellion The Diary of David Bellamy  Sydney Town, 1807 - 1809  pb 9781741697797 $16.99 
A well written absorbing story of one year in the life of David Bellamy during the early settlement of Sydney.  (10 - 14 yrs)

Morris Gleitzman
In Misery Guts pb 9780330272315 $14.95 and Worry Warts  pb 9780330272469 $14.95  Keith persuades his parents to shift from dismal dreary England to Australia but still finds there are problems in the land of his dreams.
Belly Flop pb 9780330362573  $14.95    Against a setting of severe drought in a small country town, Gleitzman succeeds in writing a very funny book but the glimpses we get of the anger, bitterness and frustration that simmer just beneath the surface layer of humour are all the more potent.
Toad Rage   pb 9780141306551 $16.95     This is a very funny story about Limpy the cane toad who is determined to change humans' adverse opinions of cane toads so he sets off on a dangerous and hilarious adventure.   Toad Heaven  and Toad Away  are the sequels.   pb $16.95  each   (8 - 14 years)

Phillip Gwynne 
Deadly Unna?  pb 9780141300498 $19.95   A perceptive and highly entertaining book describing the growing friendship between Blacky, a white teenager and Dumby Red an Aboriginal young man from out of town and how it is affected by the narrowness and pervasive racism of a country town. Winner of the 1999 CBC Book of the Year Award.    The sequel is Nukkin Ya    pb 9780141309439  $19.95          (13 years up)

Elizabeth Honey
Don't Pat the Wombat  pb 9781865080888   $15.95    A school camp in the bush sets the scene for an absorbing portrayal of students and teachers.  Funny and believable.    (7 - 12 years)

Paul Jennings
Paul Jennings is Australia's most popular author, even outselling Roald Dahl.  His stories are funny, quirky and often have a strange twist to the ending.

The Cabbage Patch Fib pb 9780140377699 $14.95  and its sequels The Cabbage Patch War, The Cabbage Patch Pong and The Cabbage Patch Curse have large print and are ideal for those just beginning to read.  A bind-up of all 4 stories is available in paperback 9780143302551  $19.95.

Robyn Klein
Hating Alison Ashley  pb 9780140316728  $17.95 is a very funny story of two girls who take an instant dislike to each other and why. (8 - 12)   Also available as a play,  pb 9780140327496 $19.95

Penny Pollard’s Diary pb 9780733618062  $15.99  Penny Pollard is horse crazy, very determined and very funny and one of Robin Klein's most popular creations now back in print.

Alison Lester
The Quicksand Pony  pb 9781742378008  $15.95  Set in the Australian bush, this adventure story involves a young girl’s search for her beloved pony, a mustering trip and a mystery.   (8 – 13 years)

Also The Snow Pony pb 9781864489309 $15.95  An adventure story set in the Snowy Mountains.  (9- 13 years)

Meme McDonald and Boori Pryor
My Girragundji  pb 9781864488180  $14.95   
A vivid story about a young Aboriginal boy growing up between two worlds.  His fears of the bad spirits about the house at night and of the bullies at school are lessened when he finds a spirit friend in a little tree frog.   Inspired by the childhood memories of Boori Pryor.    (8 - 11 years)
The Binna Binna Man pb 9781865080710 $15.95  A sequel to My Girragundji where the narrator is now older.  This very moving story reveals some of the deep problems facing Aboriginal people today as they struggle to gain strength from their traditions to withstand the pressures of drugs and to be strong in the face of losing so many of their young people.     (9 - 14 years)
In Njunjul the Sun   pb 9781865086415 $16.95  the young boy is now sixteen years old and he leaves his close-knit Aboriginal family up north to stay with his uncle Garth and his white girlfriend in the big city of Sydney. He has been in some trouble and this is a chance to sort himself out and to get rid of the feeling that he is no good.  The book has very amusing real life stories as well as drama and gives us an insight into the views of a young Aboriginal.     (12 years up)

Melina Marchetta
Looking for Alibrandi  pb 9780140360462 $19.95     It has been a bestseller with adolescents and adults because of its vitality and exuberance.  Josephine is an Australian, of Italian background and this is the story of her final school year.  Winner of the CBC Award 1993.    (13 years up)
Saving Francesca  pb 9780143000976  $19.95  The most enjoyable story of Francesca and the ups and downs of her year eleven at a Catholic Boys school which is accepting girls into Year eleven for the first time.  It is fascinating look at the effect of girls on the culture of a boys school and also the way the girls are changed.     (13 years up)

John Marsden
The Tomorrow when the War Began series is an extraordinarily popular series about a group of teenagers who are forced to fend for themselves and to fight for their country when Australia is invaded by a foreign power.  It is gripping, compulsive reading.   By far the most popular books ever written in Australia for young adults.   Tomorrow when the War Began pb  9780330274869  $16.99  Film Tie-In 9780330403801   The Dead of the Night pb 9780330356473  $16.99  Film tie-in 9780330403818   The Third Day the Frost pb 9780330356688 $16.99  Film Tie-In 9780330403825 Darkness be my Friend pb 9780330360050 $16.99  Film Tie-in 9780330403832   Burning for Revenge pb 9780330360630 $16.99  Film tie –in 9780330403849   The Night is for Hunting  pb 9780330361361 $16.99  Film Tie-in 9780330403856  and the final title in the series The Other Side of Dawn   pb 9780330362139  $16.99 Film Tie-In 9780330403863   The new film tie-in editions are $18.99 each    (12 – 18 years)


James Moloney
Dougy  pb 9780143000976 $19.95    is an uncompromising but realistic story of an Aboriginal boy growing up in a small Queensland country town where racial tensions are high.  (12 - 16 years)

Ruth Park
Ruth Park is one of Australia's most well loved authors for adults and children.
The delightful Adventures of the Muddle-Headed Wombat illus by Noela Young  pb 9780207167331  $14.95 hardback 9780207167416 $34.95   The adventures of the muddle-headed wombat are a long time favourite with young children.     (6 - 11 years)
Playing Beatie Bow pb 9780140314601 $16.95  An excellent time-slip story in which Abigail finds herself in the old Rocks area of Sydney in the 1870s.  Winner of the Book of the Year Award 1981.   (10 - 15 years)

Randolph Stow
Midnite  pb 9780141307312  $16.95    A wonderful parody of the early colonial and bushranging times in Western Australia.  A story for all ages, marvellous to read aloud. 

Colin Thiele
Thiele's novels have been well known and loved for some forty years.  His stories have humour, adventure and a very strong sense of place. 
Uncle Gustav's Ghosts  pb 9781741102376  $12.95    My favourite.  Set in the Barossa Valley of South Australia amongst the German emigrants which was Colin Thiele's own background, it is hilarious, exciting and features a variety of ghosts, including poltergeists.  (10 - 14)
Storm Boy illus by Robert Ingpen pb 9781741101874  $14.95 The well known story of the friendship between a boy and a pelican Mr Percival.  It has been reprinted with the original illustrations capturing the beautiful desolation of the sand dunes of this coastline. (6 - 12 years )

Ethel Turner
Seven Little Australians  pb 9780140347333  $17.95  hardback 9780642276308 $34.95  illustrated by John Lennox.   The well loved story of a family of 7 children, a little on the larrikin side.  It is still amazingly fresh and engaging even though it was written in 1894.  Great to read aloud.    (7 years up)

Nadia Wheatley
My Story: A Banner Bold   The Diary of Rosa Aarons Ballarat Goldfield 1854 pb  9781741697773  $16.99 

A vivid description through the eyes of Rosa Aarons of the dramatic events of the Eureka Stockade, the miners' uprising against unfair treatment at the Goldfields.   (11 - 16 years)

Tim Winton
Well known for his adult novels, Tim Winton's novels for teenagers have been a runaway success.    Lockie Leonard Human Torpedo  pb 9780141307305 $17.95  Written in colloquial language, this is a funny story of first love, of fitting into a new town with a poetry reading police sergeant as a father, and of surfing.    (11 – 15 years)

Blueback: A Fable for all Ages    pb 9780143304333 $17.95  

Tim Winton's love for the ocean and the creatures in it is reflected in this beautifully written story of Abel and his mother whose lives revolve round the ocean on the west Australian coast.  (9 up)


Gisela Kaplan
Famous Australian Birds  hardback 9781865088358  $24.95
This is an extraordinarily informative and entertaining book.  Kaplan is a recognised authority on birds and she also runs a bird rescue centre at her home and so she has many marvellous stories about true life birds that she has cared for.  The unique characteristics and habits of eight species of birds including the emu, magpie, sulphur- crested cockatoo, kookaburra, lyrebird and wedge-tailed eagle are described in lively detail.  Excellent photographs, distribution map, fact files and also glossary and index add to the detailed information in this excellent book.  (8 - 15 years)

Pat Lowe with Jimmy Pike
"You call it desert we used to live there."  pb  9781921248115 $39.95 In a marvellous collaboration, Pat Lowe's photographs interact with Jimmy Pike's striking paintings to make us see the desert landscape with new insight.  Pat Lowe describes with great simplicity what Jimmy Pike has told her about the way his family and community used to live in the Great Sandy Desert.  (10 up)

John Nicholson
The Mighty Murray  pb 9781865085654  $15.95    A very detailed historical and environmental account of the River Murray and its importance to Australia over its 2,500 km length from the Snowy Mountains till it meets the sea in South Australia.   Wonderfully illustrated with maps and water colours and line drawings.  (11 years up)

Papunya School Book of Country and History  by Papunya School Publishing Committee pb 9781865085258 $16.95    
This book shows the history of the Papunya region in the centre of Australia through the eyes of the staff and students.  This is a wonderful account from the Aboriginal viewpoint in an innovative collage format, vibrant with drawings, paintings, maps and painted photographs.

Deidre Stokes
Desert Dreamings   hardback  9781740702249  $29.95         An excellent introduction for younger students to Aboriginal desert art.  Looks at the various types of art, the stories that are told, some of the artists, the influence of modern methods and how the artists work today.   (9 - 14 years)

Upside Down World Map    paper $10.95,  laminated $24.95   Drawn from the perspective of those living in the southern hemisphere, the Upside Down World Map is centred round the Pacific Ocean and of course Australia.  Promotes some interesting discussion about cartography and gives students a different geographical perspective.


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If you would like to order any of the books listed above for yourself or for your overseas school, you can send orders to Austral Ed by email to

All prices are in Australian dollars and include GST of 10% which is not applicable for overseas purchasers. Books can be sent to an address within Australia or overseas.

© Kate Shepherd 2010.