A guest post by Sarah, 38 year old mum to Neve (9 3/4), Cissy (3) and Jemima (10 months).
I think my favourite author would have to be Alison Lester. I love the Australian-ness of her books, the gentle stories and illustrations and the fact that the substantial nature of them kind of creeps up on you. These books are “worthy” without boasting about it. My kids love them too.
Alison Lester grew up on a farm near Wilson’s Prom in Victoria, riding horses, spending time at the beach and her stories really reflect this upbringing. Alison herself says that she thinks what is appealing about her books is that they are “filled with the spirit of the young”. I think she captures this so beautifully. Her characters are adventurous and not afraid to be who they are – great qualities!
Some of our favourites include:
(for ages 2-5)
“Imagine if we were….” and be transported to other worlds. Every second page opens up to a double spread of other places. Filled with animals of every variety (listed around the outside so you can play an animal version of Where’s Wally).
“Imagine if we were surrounded by monsters where pteradons swoop and triceratops smash where stegosaurs stomp and tyrannosaurs gnash”. Turn the page and you are there. You can also go to the jungle, savannah, Antarctic, a farm, under the sea and the Australian Bush. This book converted me and I’ve been a fan ever since.
Inscribed at the front, “to Mum and Dad for a wonderful childhood”.
This book is told in seasons – and includes all the happenings on the farm. Alison takes us to the local show; she rescues a baby wombat, feeds the cows, and musters cattle along the beach. I imagine these events to be highlights of Alison’s own childhood and I end up feeling quite nostalgic for a more innocent time and place. The children in this story have such great adventures – it really is a window into quite a different life than the one of our urban children.
“In September it was time to bring the cattle home from the bush run. That year, Jake and I were finally old enough to go along. It took a day to ride down and muster, and a day to drive them home along the beach. We splashed through the shallows and jumped the waves. I decided to be a drover when I grow up.”
There is a bit more text in this one, so you probably need to be a bit bigger to appreciate it fully.
“Ernie is going to live in Arnhem Land for a year. His parents are working in a hospital there.”
It’s a new take on the other Tessa, Clive, Frank, Rosie books, with Ernie in Arnhem Land. I think this book is so delightful because in pointing out the cultural differences between us it manages to reinforce the fact that children are the same no matter what their culture.
I absolutely love the pages about the school play.
This book came about following Alison Lester’s own journey to Arnhem Land.
This book follows the travels of a family in a caravan travelling around Australia. Every second page has a map showing where they are and how far they have gone. They visit all the places you expect but it is not just a tourist guide. The book is filled with little vignettes of the experience – caravan park showers, where they sat in the car, playing monopoly in the caravan when it rained and the catch cry of younger brother Billy…. “Are we there yet?”
I’m Green and I’m Grumpy (for ages 18 months – 4)
In this story everyone hides in the cupboard, and there is a rhyming clue to guess what each character is dressed up as. “I’m green and I’m grumpy, I’m huge and I roar. I’m a thundering, rumbling…. (open the flap) DINOSAUR!“, finishing up with Rosie – a bit younger than we see her in Rosie Sips Spiders – asleep in the cupboard. Very sweet.
So if you haven’t visited Alison Lester’s books before, check them out at the library when you next visit – I’m sure you will love them as much as I do.