Saturday, June 1, 2013

Armchair BEA (day 5): Children's Literature- Reppin' Australia

Sorry for my absence yesterday folks, I had a full up schedule and didn't get a chance to write about non-fiction and ethics but wowzers you all did really well covering it all, so I don't know that I could have actually added anything new anyway!

So children's literature! I LOVE children's lit and it's such an important genre because 9 times out of 10 it's the writing that informs whether someone becomes a reader or not. I was a reader from a young age (I doubt there are many of you who don't share that claim) and I always loved fairytales. I had these two huge compediums of fairytales and nursery rhymes. Both were filled will really beautiful and detailed illustrations to accompany the stories and rhymes from the 16th to the 19th centuries and both are now locked away awaiting the birth of my children, whenever that will be. I loved pouring over the story of Rose Red and the Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme was my absolute favourite. A couple of years later I was given a book of stories about British and Irish sprites and fairies and pixies. I'd like to say it was this book that lead to me loving to research the subject of my reads and to examining the subtext that is hidden to all but those of us obsessive enough to dig a little deeper.

But the most wonderful books I read as a kid were all Australian. When it comes to Australian children's lit my mum is a book-pusher, I read my fair share of Hungry Caterpillers and Baby-Sitter's Clubs, but it was the books written by Australian authors set (mostly) in our very own country that I read the most often and loved the hardest. And since I know there aren't a huge selection of Australians taking part here I figured I'd introduce you all to some BRILLIANT reads. There are classics stories written by our bush poets (Mulga Bill's Bicycle), books which challenged gender stereotypes at a time when that was unheard of (Seven Little Australians), series that forced ordinary Australian teens to become guerilla fighters (Tomorrow when the War Began) and series which were just delighfully absurd (collections by Paul Jennings). It's an absolute pleasure to present you with my lists of favourite picture, children's and YA Australian books.

Get reading!

Picture Books 
My selection is perhaps a little dated since I don't have anyone to buy picture books for, but I know for a fact that most of these books are still just as popular today as they were when I was a little gal. All are uniquely Australian, and though not listed you should also hunt out the many, many picture books which tell the dream-time stories of the Indigenous Australians.

Wombat Stew by Marcia Kay Vaughn
Mulga Bill's Bicycle by Banjo Paterson, Deborah and Kilmeny Niland
Possum Magic by Mem Fox
Animalia by Graeme Base
The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan
John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat by Jenny Wagner and Ron Brooks

Children's Books 
Since this is an Australian list I can't really include Roald Dahl, but I'm going to pimp him out anyway because ALL of his books should be read, Matilda, George's Marvellous Medicine, James and the Giant Peach, The Magic Finger, The on and so forth. Similarly if you don't read The Magic Faraway Tree or The Wishing Chair, both series by Enid Blyton, to your kids then I consider you to have failed in your parental responsibilities. But on to the Aussie contemporaries and classics!

Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner
Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park
Unreal/Unbelievable/Quirky Tales (or any other short story collection) by Paul Jennings
Two Weeks With the Queen by Morris Gleitzman
Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs
Rowan of Rin by Emily Rodda (a series)
Storm Boy by Colin Theile

Young Adult
If you've run out of Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Divergent books to read then why not turn to Australian YA? This is the bracket I have the least to suggest, but head to this Goodreads list if you're interested in the many, many YA Australian books and series I haven't read. These should be enough to get started though!

The Infernal Optimist by Linda Jaivin
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Tomorrow when the War Began by John Marsden (a series)
Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Deadly Unna by Phillip Gwynne


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