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I’m Australian, how about you?



the front paper with all kinds of different people

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I’m Australian Too is a new book by the beloved children’s book author Mem Fox and illustrated by Ronojoy Ghosh. With beautiful illustration of families from diverse cultural and national backgrounds as well as various sceneries in Australia, I’m Australian Too celebrates multiculturalism within Australia, appreciates the country’s inclusiveness and hospitality, and invites immigrants who migrate from all over the world to Australia to envision a hopeful future in the new country.



From fleeing war and oppression, famine, to seeking a better life, people chose to move to Australia for different reasons, but what unites them all is the dream of peace and prosperity in the new land. Mem Fox’s new book sends a heartwarming message about diversity and solidarity in Australia, and also includes the pressing difficulties faced by refugees.


While the book focuses more on the inclusiveness and celebration of the Australian identity despite different national, cultural, ethnic, religious backgrounds, it does present the immigrants’ home countries or previous experience in a one-sided and negative way, such as being poverty-stricken or war-torn. Therefore, I think it is appropriate to use this book to discuss with young children about the inclusivity of the host country, but the book should also serve as an invitation for children (and adults) to share more in-depth stories of their previous experiences and motherlands to get a richer depiction of their lives as immigrants. Moreover, I’m Australian Too will be a fantastic mentor text for early writers and English Learners, by which they can write their own life stories imitating Mem Fox’s concise structure and humorous rhymes! Creative elementary teachers, are you ready to make a wonderful book “I’m American Too!” with young writers in your classroom? 🙂



What journeys we have traveled, from countries near and far! Together now, we live in peace, beneath the Southern Star.

P.S. You can hear Mem Fox reading this lovely book here, or read about how the book came about here.

Posted by Shiyu Wang




Atlas of Adventures


Atlas of Adventures is a book written by Rachel Williams and illustrated by Lucy Letherland. I discovered this book while preparing for teaching a geography lesson and fell in love with it’s beauty. First of all, the book is around 20 x 12 which allows plenty of room for full page detailed images. The book contains maps and details about each continent, and several locations within each continent. The book has no story line but rather follows a boy and girl as they go on an adventure of the world. At each location, the book provides an activity to take part in such as “Be showered in Cherry Blossoms” or “Visit the Penguins”, along with a description of each activity and 10-12 fun facts about the event, location, or culture within each location.

Carly Hess

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Traditional Thursdays: Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga


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Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga written and illustrated by Christopher Wormell, is an endearing and humorous train story perfect for younger children and pre-schoolers. The story’s beautiful illustrations and animal characters with big personalities keep children engaged in the story and wanting to read more. This story is timeless and a great read for parents and their kids since the book is long enough to sit in both laps and the illustrations span across the binding and onto both pages.

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The writing style of this book uses repetition of phrases like “Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga” and “She won’t fit, but she did” that makes it easy for children to keep up with what is going on in the book, follow along, and eventually read along as well. It gives the story structure and we can see the impending problem start to arise. Wormell uses plenty of dialogue to give his animal characters personality, especially in the distinct way they talk, and it makes it especially easy for the reader (if reading out loud) to change voices for each character and bring the story to life. The text of this book appears in the gutters of the page so that no attention is taken away from the beautiful illustrations above. As seen in the example above, Wormell also makes an effective use of typography to express how to read and say the text differently, also keeping the story engaging and exciting.

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The illustrations in this book are detailed colored pencil that bring the story to life. The illustrations span across both pages and leave a very small gutter so that the reader is encouraged to stay and take in everything in the illustration. The three animal characters are detailed and larger than life compared to the conductor and they make for an interesting trio that the art fleshes out. The colors are soft and attractive to children and the illustration do a great job of conveying the meaning of the text, often going beyond the text. The illustrations are what makes this book a classic, with the colors and vibrancy of the fruit and the background city.

Puff-Puff, Chugga-Chugga is a great book to sit down and read with children. They can look at the bright illustrations on the pages and eventually read for themselves the repetitive lines. They will understand the humor present, engage with the characters, and get excited at the climax of the story.

Posted by Ashanti Charles

Free Friday: Children of Foreign Lands


The cover of the book

This week was our school spring break, which allowed me to return to my childhood home and explore some of the books I read growing up.  Most of them are pretty standard: the long list of Dr. Seuss, the “Guess How Much I Love You” book (and others just as sappy and sentimental), and lots of other classics.  However, during this week at home, I discovered some special old books.  Like, books from the 1800s! I found one particular book, intended for children, that describes and depicts children from different nations all around the world.  The book, Children of Foreign Lands by Elizabeth F. McCrady, was published in 1937, and features 8 stories of children from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Mexico.  The stories end with a short poem that captures the spirit of the preceding passage.  There are also some fun illustrations on each page, and they alternate between color and black and white, which reflects some of the other children’s books from the period.


The title page.  Look at the publication date!!

I remember reading this book as a child, and really looking into how I thought some people lived.  Its focus on children allowed me to view what my life could’ve been like, but it tells a rather one-sided, exoticized story of children from around the world.  Words like “foreign”, especially on the front of the book, indicate an othering and distancing of other cultures.  Even when considering the book in its historical context, many of the cultures in this book are described as completely separate from others.  While I understand that the only world that I’ve known has been this globalized, interconnected set of countries and places, I am reluctant to accept the fact that the world was so separate in the 1930s.



An example of the initial spread of a story.  Here you can see the alternation of the color and black and white illustrations, as well as some of the descriptions of the children (“They did not look like our words”).  

It is really difficult for me to say that this book is an example of misrepresentation in today’s world of children’s literature, as I really believe that the author’s intent in writing this piece was to provide a lens for American children in order to see that other cultures exist, and that there are even other children in those cultures.  However, the outdated nature of this book makes me hesitant to use this as anything other than historical.  I would more recommend using this book as a historical example of contextualized ethnocentric exoticism of different culture other than Judeo-Christian, white American.

One last thought: the end pages in the beginning and end of the book both have an illustration of all the children together.  A previous (child?) owner of the book attempted to place all the children in order based on the sequence of the book! I thought this was a neat little piece of history, coinciding with some of our work at whole-story book reading.


Review by Hannah Baughn


If You Give a Pig a Pancake


If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff and Illustrated by Felicia Bond. Published in 1998 by HarperCollins Publishers

It was personally really interesting reading this book again for the first time in years — it was one that I often asked my mom to read to me, and it has been good to reflect back on why I loved it so much, and what benefits it may give to children today.

The classic book follows the story of a little pig who climbs into a little girl’s window after she offers him a pancake and follows a series of hilarious events that all build on one another. The style of the story goes “if (insert previous silly thing)….then (insert another silly thing), etc.


The illustrations in this book are both realistic and simple, with a bright color palette and plenty of amusing detail (see little big who dressed itself up in the girl’s sweater below). The illustrations serve to characterize the pig as fun-loving and mischievous, as the pig never speaks in the story, which is mostly told from a third person’s point of view (with the voice of the girl). Thus, the illustrations are irreplaceable as they serve as the primary point of characterization, both for the pig and the girl.


The writing style of the book is simple for young readers to understand; the repetition of the same sentence structure provides a good flow for the story, as well as helps create anticipation for each page turn.IMG_6743.JPGIMG_6744.JPG

In terms of mechanics, the two title pages did a good job of setting up the story — the first showing the pig as a little fugitive with a small sack (like the ones people carry when running away from home on a whim) and the second showing the pig peeping into the little girl’s kitchen. There are no special endpage illustrations (at least in the edition of the book that I have), and there is not a great use of gutters in the book as oftentimes art is lost in the gutters — the illustrator didn’t seem to use gutters to divide up characters or events well.

When reflecting on why I enjoyed this book so much as a kid, I think it was the way the pig seemed to ‘live life to the fullest’ that attracted me — the way it flew from one thing to the next and tackled it all with the same gusto. It’s unpredictability made each page turn a suspenseful moment, which was always followed by a squeal of delight when the little pig’s journey continued. I would still recommend this book to elementary-school aged students, if anything it is a good example of the fact that the choices we make lead to very real consequences, and can be given an educational twist by helping children think through why they make certain decisions, and how they can ensure that they make the right ones.
Posted by: Abby