(Artwork inspired by aboriginal dot paintings by Miss M and Sir I)
Wombat Stew by Marcia K. Vaughan and Pamela Lofts: One day, a very clever dingo catches a wombat and sets about making wombat stew, with a little help from the other animals. Fear not for the wombat, though! My kids loved this one and went around singing, “Wombat stew! Wombat stew! Gooey chewy, crunchy munchy, for my lunchy, WOMBAT STEW!” for days after.
Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French: This was a birthday present for Sir I from my Aussie writing buddy Jo. Features a sleeping-all-day back-scratching carrot-devouring hole-digging wombat who trains humans to feed her on demand. Very entertaining.
The Biggest Frog in Australia by Susan Roth: In the Dreamtime, the biggest frog in Australia wakes up very thirsty. He drinks up all the puddles, the billabongs (I added this new word to my vocabulary and I’ve been itching to use it ever since!), the rivers, the lakes, even the rain in the clouds. Now the frog is huge and swollen, the land is dry and parched, and the other animals are suffering. They need to get all the water out of the frog, but how?
Bilby Moon by Margaret Spurling: A bilby is enthralled by her first sight of the full moon, smiling down at her. Her joy turns to distress on subsequent nights as the moon starts losing pieces of itself. She enlists the help of other desert animals to find the lost pieces, becoming sadder as the moon grows thinner and finally disappears. Then an owl tells her not to worry–she’ll be surprised again the following night when the moon comes back. A charming, reassuring story.
Stories from the Billabong by James Vance Marshall: This collection of aboriginal stories from the Dreamtime has lovely dot painiting-inspired illustrations. Not all the tales are appropriate for my kids’ ages, so I picked only a handful of them to read aloud (usually the animal ones). We all enjoyed “How the Kangaroo got her Pouch”.