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Australian Children’s Book Week: Awesome Possum Magic Coins, and Aussie Kids’ Books

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Jen Sherman

Staff Writer

Jen is an urban and cultural geographer who did a PhD on public libraries and reading. As a researcher, her interests are focused on libraries, reading, book retailing and the book industry more broadly. As a reader, she reads a lot of crime fiction, non-fiction, and chicklit. And board books. All the board books. You can also find her writing about books for children and babies at Instagram: shittyhousewife / babylibrarians Twitter: @jennnigan

It’s the CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) Children’s Book Week this week (it runs from 19–26 August), and the theme for 2017 is ‘Escape to Everywhere’. Schools and public libraries across Australia are celebrating books by Australian authors and illustrators with activities, competitions, and stories.

The most exciting news, I think, is the release of commemorative $2 coins with illustrations from Possum Magic, a beloved children’s classic by Mem Fox. The book was written by Fox when she couldn’t find any Australian children’s books for her daughter, and it is a warm and charming tale full of Australian creatures, places, and foods.

The coins contain illustrations from the original book, and there is also a commemorative album available that includes three $2 coin designs, four $1 coin designs, and a special 1 cent coin.

In celebration of Children’s Book Week and the super exciting news about the Possum Magic coins, I’ve put together a list of some of my favourite Australian kids’ books.

Possum Magic by Mem Fox

Of course this one had to be first on the list! Featuring Hush and Grandma Poss, and the bush magical powers that Grandma Poss had. On their adventures, they eat Anzac biscuits and Minties and pumpkin scones and Vegemite sandwiches. They travel to Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. Just thinking about this book makes me homesick.

Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox

Mem Fox has actually written a lot of wonderful books, and I already have a small collection set aside for my baby (I will be somewhat disappointed if my kid turns out to hate reading). This one is one of my favourites. It’s a great one to read aloud, with a delightful rhythm and fun illustrations. Besides, it’s sheep! Who doesn’t love sheep?

Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

This book is pretty much as advertised—it’s the diary of a wombat. Wombats are wonderful creatures, short, stout, and pretty much pure muscle. They’re adorable in the ‘looks like a furry boulder’ kind of way. The diary features entries such as: ‘Monday. Morning: Slept. Afternoon: Slept. Evening: Ate grass. Scratched. Night: Ate grass. Slept.’ The illustrations are great, too.

Are We There Yet? by Alison Lester

This one has more words than the others on the list so far, and we join a young family on their road trip around Australia. Mum, Dad, and three kids take off in a campervan and drive around the entire coast of Australia, and down into the middle too. They visit famous sites like Uluru, Kakadu, the Pinnacles, Surfers Paradise, Bondi Beach, and the Great Ocean Road. The trip takes an entire school term (about ten to twelve weeks), and is the kind of trip I’d like to do one day.

The Little Refugee by Ahn Do, Suzanne Do, and Bruce Whatley

Ahn Do is an Australian comedian and TV personality, and his book The Happiest Refugee is his memoir about his family’s escape from Vietnam to Australia when he was a child. The Little Refugee is that story told in the form of a warm and uplifting children’s book.