Australia is home to some unique and truly delightful animals that I would so love to encounter in the wild. Today’s post looks at three of them; two of the stories are by the well-known Australian children’s book author, Mem Fox. Mem has a comprehensive author’s website here. Her life’s passion is children’s literacy! Possum Magic was her second book, published in 83 and she has since gone on to write 33 more.
Our two possum protagonists have the endearing names of Hush and Grandma Poss. Now Grandma Poss is a whizz at bush magic and and devises a pièce de résistance, a magic that makes Hush invisible. Unseen, Hush gets into all sorts of fun and loves all that invisibility offers, like safety from snakes and sliding down kangaroo backs!
One day Hush decides she wants to be able to see herself again and asks Grandma to reverse the magic, but despite looking through all her magic books, Grandma Poss is stumped. All she remembers is it has something to do with human food, so off they set on what becomes a tour of the famous cuisine of some of Australia’s most well-known cities. The first attempts were failures, but a vegemite sandwich in north Australia brings Hush’s tail back into visibility. Perth pavlova results in the appearance of legs and body, while a final stop and some lamington in Tasmania seals the deal! The final page shows a map of the culinary tour and a glossary of the dishes. Mem bursts into rhyme a few times in the story, otherwise the words are simple and flowing and easy for children to follow. The illustrations are charming: grandma Poss in pinny and pumps cycling around Australia with Hush on her back…. The story is a delight in itself but would be a huge asset to any classroom teacher wanting to introduce Australia to his/her students. This book makes me want to hop straight on a plane to Sydney and then into the bush!
Mem talks about the inspiration for Possum Magic here.
Read this book and then tell me you haven’t fallen in love with koalas. This story tackles the common feeling of not enough motherly love to go round. When Koala Lou is born EVERYONE loves her, but none as much as her Mom who reminds of the fact 100 times a day. But the inevitable happens and siblings arrive and Koala Lou wishes her mother would repeat those words. So she comes up with a plan. She will compete in the bush Olympics. Winning her event will surely assure her mother’s love (sound familiar?). Well despite all her training, Koala Lou comes in second to her rival and she runs off into the bush and cries her eyes out. Once night has fallen she creeps home and into a certain person’s warm arms and longed-for refrain! Once again, it is the simplicity that strikes me in the appeal of this story, one that every kid can relate too.
This fun journey into the Australian outback is written in rhyme, with an excellent meter, making it a joy to read aloud. Six woolly wombats go on a walkabout, and a passing ravenous dingo dingo decides this lunch is too good to miss. One by one, a wombat strays from the others intrigued by all that one can see in the bush (golden wattle, kookaburras, gum trees, a billabong – all explained in a glossary). Suddenly Jen and Jack realize the others are no longer following. Hiding by the trail, they spy the dingo with a large sack that’s squirming on his back. The two, worried about their four playmates, come up with a cunning pit plan to thwart the hungry canine. Four thankful wombats escape and six happy wombats walk back home two by two for tea. The illustrations are in warm colours, focusing on flora and fauna. Since the wooly wombats look pretty similar, Blackall has given each Wombat its own accessory (paper hat, string skirt…) to give them some individuality. 2-5 year olds will enjoy the rhyming text and the round wooly wombats!
# 86-88 in the There’s a Book Read to Me Picture Book Challenge
Status of these Three Species
Koala – While not officially endangered, this species has seen its population decrease by 90% in the last decade!
Leadbeater’s Possum – Discovered not to be extinct in 1961, as previously feared. They are only found in the Victorian central highlands, in old forest areas that are being logged. These possums nest in tree hollows, and these are only found in old trees.
Wombat – The Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat is one of the world’s most endangered species.