8 Amazing Picture Books for Christmas

There are so many wonderful picture books being published at the moment, but I’ve selected a variety to review that would make great Christmas presents.



Unknown The Lion and The Bird by international bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Marianne Dubuc is the tender story of the unlikely friendship between a lion dressed in denim and a bird with a broken wing.

One autumn day, a lion finds a wounded bird in his garden. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Then one day spring arrives, and so too do the other birds. Will Lion and Bird have to say goodbye to the friendship for the summer?

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 7.34.23 amThis moving story is so relevant in today’s times when the world is full of vulnerable people like refugees who have been damaged by circumstances, and are looking for a safe haven and a new life.

As well as compelling text, this book is beautifully presented in hardback with the pictures left to tell the story on some pages.

It’s no wonder that The Lion and The Bird has been published in 15 countries across the world.

It’s a beautiful book that can be shared at leisure, and it features themes of friendship, waiting and change.

The Lion and The Bird is published in Australia, New Zealand, UK and Ireland by Book Island.


In this contemporary fairytale, a young boy and escaped blue bird free their country from the rule of tyrannical despots.

This picture book for children aged five-years plus, explores ideas of freedom and justice and meets the demand for more culturally diverse picture books in an increasingly multicultural society.


Every illustration by Mattias De Leeuw is a work of art in this book.

It compliments the lyrical text by Laila Koubaa.

At the door, he breathed in the sweet smell of Jasmine. The front of the house was like one big flower. 

The richness in both the text and illustrations make this book an enticing read. It is beautifully translated into English by David Colmer.

Azizi and the Little Blue Bird is another wonderful book for opening young minds to the world around them. It is also published by Book Island.



Australian Kids through the Years is a wonderful book written by Tania McCartney and illustrated by Andrew Joyner.

It takes readers on a leisurely tour through history starting with Australia’s first children, through the 1800s, 1900s and into modern times.

There are so many fascinating facts in here about things like the way children lived, how they dressed, how they did their hair, what they ate, what they did for fun and what they read.

This book is a feast of fabulous illustrations and easy to follow text with interesting language and information that young readers can pore over for hours.

Unknown-1At the back is a summary of the years, and National Library references for all the illustrations.

Adult readers will also be able to reminisce as they meander through history in these colourful and lively snapshots of Australia’s past.

Australian Kids through the Years is a great way to bring history into both the family and the classroom.

Australian Kids through the Years is published by the National Library of Australia.


9781760067229_COVERI’ll admit upfront that I’m biased about these beautiful books because they were written by my crit buddy, Alison Reynolds, and I have watched their progress from initial idea to finished product.

But right from the start, I was drawn to the two compelling characters and their special friendship. Bree is a feisty little girl who likes to get her own way, but who has a good heart and is able to recognise her own faults. Pickle is a gentle, slow moving and very large bear who admires those qualities in his friend that he doesn’t possess himself.

In The Decorating Disaster, all about teamwork, Pickle and Bree have very different ideas about how the home they share should be decorated, and this leads to humour and disaster, but also some important revelations.

Even though they are the very best of friends, Pickle and Bree are very different, but they soon realise that some jobs like hanging wallpaper and painting, just aren’t supposed to be done alone.

At the end of this adventure are some tips on teamwork that both teachers and parents/guardians will find helpful to share with young readers.

In The Birthday Party Cake, all about welcoming differences, it’s Jason’s Birthday and Pickle is planning a special bear surprise for his friend. But when Bree decides to lend a hand, her idea of a perfect party is not what Pickle had in mind. But can Pickle and Bree find a way to save Jason’s birthday?

This adventure carries tips at the back for welcoming differences and considering the feelings and wishes of others.

9781760067236_COVERPickle & Bree’s Guides to Good Deeds are wonderfully illustrated by Mikki Butterley whose humorous pictures are a perfect match for the rollicking text.

They are great for reading in schools and homes to introduce children to concepts like sharing, accepting others and getting along.

Two more Pickle & Bree’s Guides to Good Deeds are coming soon.

They are published by The Five Mile Press.


Bertie Bear was going on a long journey. He didn’t realise it would be on a camel! And he never imagined he would be having adventures of his own, far away from Jessie.

UnknownThis delightful story of a real bear’s outback camel and train journey has been cleverly woven into a work of fiction by Janeen Brian.

The rhythmic text along with Anne Spudvilas‘ stunning illustrations introduce young readers to the vibrant colours of the outback and its characters.

I also like the way the story is told from the lost toy’s point of view.

This is a work of fiction, but the real Bertie makes a ‘star appearance’ at the back of the book.

Where’s Jessie? is published by the National Library of Australia.



UnknownI love Craig Smith‘s work so I was so excited when I heard a picture book was about to be released that he had both written and illustrated – and I wasn’t disappointed.

Remarkably Rexy also just happens to feature one of my favourite animals, a cat.

Rexy is a typical cat, but he’s also a bit of a dancer, and quite proud of himself because he’s always being praised for his good looks and talent.

But his perfect existence is shattered when Towser the barking dog next door escapes.

Unknown-1The text is hilarious and Craig’s vibrant illustrations are beautiful.

Remarkably Rexy is so much fun for cat lovers of all ages. It also has a link to a free audio reading.

Remarkably Rexy is published by Allen & Unwin.


This hilarious book written and illustrated by Dave Hackett (Cartoon Dave) is one of my favourite picture books this year because it’s so relatable.

“Come on Daddy. It’s time for bed.”

“But I’m not tired,” says Daddy.

How can a little girl put her daddy to bed when he doesn’t want to go?

imagesTime for Bed Daddy is so funny because it’s a complete role reversal, and so much fun at bedtime.

I remember how hard it was to get my kids to bed when they were small, and how tensions often rose.

This book is a great tool for turning bedtime into a playful occasion that’s fun for everyone.

Time for Bed Daddy  is published by University of Queensland Press.



Writing Humour – The Summer of Kicks

Today, I’m pleased to welcome hilarious Dave Hackett to DeeSribe Writing. Dave has generously agreed to share his comedy writing tips with us, and I’m reviewing his very funny new book for teens, The Summer of Kicks.

Dave Hackett (Cartoon Dave) is currently seen each week on Channel Eleven’s Toasted TV and Channel Seven’s It’s Academic, He has written a number of cartoon and funny books for kids, and is known for his lively humour, and he brings this to his writing in The Summer of Kicks, and to his main character, Starrphyre.


For a long time I’ve had a real yearning to write a comedy/romance from a teenage guy’s perspective.

Growing up, I was the only guy in a house full of girls, and I wanted to tell a story from that perspective. Like a three-year-old with an IKEA flat-pack bunk-bed and desk combo to assemble, I wanted to write a character who knows what his end game is, but has no idea how to get there. He’s surrounded by girls at home, overloaded with inside information on the female species, but getting close to anything that would resemble a potential girlfriend in the real world is going to require more than a step-by-step instruction booklet and a handful of allen keys.


  1. Be Funny. Comedy really sucks if it’s serious.
  1. I’ve heard it said that to write comedy, it’s a great idea to work with someone else. Find a partner – someone to bounce ideas off. Someone whose gasping-desperately-for-air-stomach-cramping-peeing-their-brand-new-jogging-pants response to your last line is evidence enough that you’re onto something witty. If nobody likes you enough to work that closely with you, at the very least, read your funny bits to anyone you can find, and gauge their response. (two year olds and cats don’t count).
  1. This is a gold mine of opportunity, because (and this might surprise you) – your characters can say anything you want them to say. If you’re writing about teenagers, go and listen to actual human teenagers talking to each other (some might put a label on this activity, like ‘eavesdropping’ or ‘invasion of privacy’, but let’s just call it research). Go out into the world, sit near a bunch of them in the food court and listen to them talk. It’s hilarious.
  1. Take a character or two, find a situation and ask: What’s the dumbest, most embarrassing thing that could possibly happen here? Make a list and then choose the thing that you’d least like to happen to you. And go there. And stay there. And then make it worse for them. Unbearably worse. (See, this is fun!) In your story-writing world, you are God. You’re the all-seeing, all-knowing, designer of all things (but let’s just clarify that this is just in your story-writing world. You’re not actual God. Don’t get ahead of yourself). The bottom line is, what you say goes.
  1. Remember, humour doesn’t work if it’s forced or too contrived. If you’re having trouble with funny, if it’s not coming naturally to you, maybe you should be writing sanitation manuals, or a series on the joys of accounting. But if it is comedy that you really want to tackle, don’t be afraid to look close to home for your ideas. Think of all the moments in your life that were cringe-worthy at the time, that you can look back on and laugh about now, and start there.

Comedy is challenging to write, but life is comedy that writes itself.


Starrphyre is your average sensitive-meets-dorky 16-year-old, with a tragic hippy name thanks to his parents – live to air radio therapist mum, and a bass player dad from a one hit wonder 80s metal band.

All Starrphyre wants is one date with his dream girl, Candace McAllister. Or at least, a meaningful conversation. It seems like he might get his wish when he gets the starring role opposite her in the school musical, but things don’t quite go according to plan. Added to this are Starrphyre’s ongoing battles with his sister’s meat headed boyfriend who has become his room mate, a friendly stalker, an internet scandal and a pair of shoes that get him into a whole lot of trouble.

The Summer of Kicks_978 0 7022 5336 2_COVER_FINALStarrphyre makes mistakes, but you can’t help liking him. He has a good heart and a great sense of humour, but he also has many cringe worthy moments in the story, which is one of the things that make this book so authentically teen.

In Starrphyre’s character, Dave Hacket captures all the awkwardness and vulnerability of being sixteen and embarking on first relationships.

Starrphyre’s loyalties are often torn between family and friends, between friends and friends, but you get the feeling he will make the right decisions in the end.

I also loved the secondary characters in the story from his oddball but wise mother, the sex therapist to his school mates and the people he works with in his first job.

The lives of the characters in this story are entwined in a complex mesh that brings plenty of twists and surprises to the story.

There’s plenty of action and humour to carry the reader along with Starrphyre on his journey and I also like the way female point of view characters are sensitively portrayed through the main character’s eyes.

I can see this book appealing universally to teens of both genders.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog, Dave and sharing your great tips. I hope that The Summer of Kicks finds its way onto many bookshelves:)