When I reflect on my childhood, lots of things come to mind. A loud house full of siblings, hot days spent in the pool, and sprawling out on my bed reading my favourite books over and over again – particularly Possum Magic by Mem Fox, Wombat Stew by Marcia K. Vaughan, and Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker. These books were written around the time I was born (1983, ’89, and ’90, respectively), and hold a special place in my heart. The style and language in them reflect the era I grew up in, and I really enjoy revisiting them still.
While these classic books are a great addition to a home library (and are classics for a reason!), I often feel disheartened when I see them win various ‘book of the year’ awards year after year. We have had so many amazing Australian authors and illustrators hit the scene in the last few years, and I personally believe we should be introducing our children to books that reflect the issues of their own time too.
I’d like to take the opportunity to share a few of my current favourites with you!
Philip Bunting & Laura Bunting
This dynamic husband and wife duo is a firm favourite of mine. With their quirky and often cheeky style, the Buntings have released some amazing books, including a whole series based on Australian animals.
Sandcastle by Philip Bunting
Kookaburras Love to Laugh by Laura & Philip Bunting
Over the past year, I’ve been making a conscious effort to read a more diverse range of books, especially those written by BIPOC (Black and Indigenous people, and People of Colour) authors. When I first stumbled across Sally Morgan’s board book version of We All Sleep, I was immediately hooked. Her books are often nature-inspired, and her text is lyrical and sweeping.
We All Sleep by Sally Morgan & Ezekiel Kwaymullina
Little Bird’s Day by Sally Morgan & Johnny Warrkatja Malibirr
Ohhhh, Anna Walker. The absolutely amazing Anna Walker. Combining timeless, whimsical illustrations with beautifully sweet stories, Anna can do no wrong. She often collaborates with Jane Godwin – who is equally as amazing.
Tilly by Anna Walker & Jane Godwin
Lottie and Walter by Anna Walker
A relatively new find for me, Beci Orpin is the queen of bold, retro illustrations! I really enjoy her board books, but she also has created an amazing look-and-find book that I love called Find Me a Castle.
Dressing Your Family by Beci Orpin
Find Me a Castle by Beci Orpin
One of my all-time favourites, and someone I fan-girl over anytime she ‘likes’ one of my posts, Davina Bell is a rockstar! I love that her books are sensitively written through a child’s perspective, and range from sweet read-aloud board books to hilariously relatable picture books. Davina often collaborates with Allison Colpoys for illustration – which is an unbeatable match.
All of the Factors of Why I Love Tractors by Davina Bell & Jenny Lovlie
The Underwater Fancy-Dress Parade by Davina Bell & Allison Colpoys
If you love colour, you will LOVE Sophie Beer! Sophie has such a fun illustrative style, and has illustrated a number of picture books over the last few years, with more to be released this year. She has also written a heap of board books, many focusing on topics like love, acceptance, and kindness.
Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer
Izzy and Frank by Katrina Lehman & Sophie Beer
I hope this has been helpful, and that it has inspired you to check out some more local authors and illustrators! If you are looking for book recommendations or other bookish content, head over to my Instagram account @bookieboobox , or check out www.bookieboo.com.au if you’re on the hunt for some great new books.