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An unforgettable collaboration between Jackie and the magic Bruce Whatley, whose illustrations leap across the page, and almost make you weep sometimes with their beauty.
Teaching notes are available from Harper Collins for all these books.
See www.harpercollins.com.au

Diary of a Wombat - This is the book that has scooped just about every award around and galloped across the world, making it one of Australia's most awarded and bestselling picture books ever...
It's the story of a wombat. She eats. She sleeps. she scratches. And she is training humans to become better pets.....
The wombat is based on a real wombat, who still lives under Jackie's bedroom. Diary of a Wombat shows kids that sometimes being stubborn and stroppy can get you your carrots...and that two people (or two species) can have a very different vision of the world!

The Secret World of Wombats - The book is about 30 years of living with wombats and studying them. All the dirt on wombats you ever wanted to know: why wombats bite each others bums, how to speak wombat, and how you can get close to a wild wombat, plus tales of Bad Bart the Biter and Moriarty and Mothball and many of the others.With glorious illustrations by Bruce Whatley.

Pete the Sheep - Sean is a shearer and instead of a sheepdog to help him, he's got a sheep sheep - Pete. After being rejected by the other shearers and their dogs, Sean and Pete set up a sheep salon in town. Sheep from everywhere arrive to have their wool shorn in the latest style and even the shearers' dogs end up arriving for a cut in order to look gorgeous.
The Story Behind Pete the Sheep
Pete was a black sheep called Dunmore, who herded all our other sheep into the shearing shed in return for a milk arrowroot biscuit and a scratch behind his horns. (He'd go all dribbly and weak at the knees when you scratched him).
Back in the drought in the late 70's, when there was no grass for sheep to eat and no money to buy hay for them, a friend and I came up with a cunning plan. We'd give a sheep to every preschool in Australia! And then we'd make a living going around each preschool giving the sheep really cool hair cuts...
Luckily it rained before we put our plan into action. But many year later, this is where the story of 'the sheep with a plan' came from.

Josephine Wants to Dance - From the award-winning duo of Diary of a Wombat comes another hilarious tale of a bush animal you'll never forget.
Josephine is a kangaroo - who loves to dance ballet. Her little brother, Joey, tells her that kangaroos don't dance, they hop - but Josephine continues to point her toes and leap through the air.
When a ballet troupe comes to town and both the lead ballerina and understudy are injured, Josephine's talents are called upon to help save the day. Can she do it and, more importantly, does it matter that she's a kangaroo?
A very funny picture book that looks at the importance of believing in yourself and realising your dreams.
Ages 4- 9
ps There are cameos for Mothball wombat too, and the sheep and shearers from Pete the Sheep.
Josephine is based on a real kangaroo, just as Pete and Diary of a Wombat were based on real animals too.
Josephine is based on a roo called Fuchsia and a wallaby called Rosie. Fuchsia was the kangaroo that danced through our lives when my son was small. They'd dance to ' Newspaper Mama!', and then we'd go for a walk. Well, Edward and I would walk, and Fuchsia would dance around us....
Rosie shares our garden with Mothball wombat. Mothball eats the carrots, and Rosie eats the roses. As I wrote Josephine wants to Dance I'd watch Rosie delicately pick a rose with her teeth, then pass it down to her baby. And if you'd visited our farm this morning you'd have seen a small brown wallaby happily bounding through the apple trees with a rose in her mouth.
Josephine is about a kangaroo who loves to dance, but it also teaches kids to dream...and to keep working for their dream as well.

The Shaggy Gully Times -

 STOP PRESS! book cover
Our favourite furry friends Mothball Wombat, Pete the Sheep and Josephine the Dancing Kangaroo are back this month, and they’re on the front page of The Shaggy Gully Times!
Be the first to read the breaking news as it happens in The Shaggy Gully Times. This is the punniest book you’ll ever read, all about the small bush town of Shaggy Gully, home to many animals such as Celebrity Ballerina Josephine, Pete the Sheep, who runs Shaun’s Sheep Salon, as well as Mothball Wombat, the editor of the weekly newspaper, who has a bit of trouble with her spilling, sorry, spelling. 

This week’s edition is jam packed with news!

News flash! The Shaggy Gully Bushfire Brigade and the rest of the community have come together to rescue the miserable animals from Mr Nasty’s Goo! (Correction, zoo).

Police Report! Gunna the Graffiti Goanna has struck again! And who is the mysterious blonde up the three bear’s gum tree?

And in other news… how does Emily Emu save the day? Can poor Bluey Spider ever find true love? Will the visiting Kiwis thrash the Wallabies in the Match of the year?
Read all about it! In The Shaggy Gully Times!

The Shaggy Gully Times!
Amazing Discovery of the Punniest Newspaper You've Ever Read!

It all started a few years ago when Bruce and Jackie were down in Shaggy Gully, following up the rumour that internationally acclaimed prima ballerina Josephine was really a kangaroo.(A likely tail/tale!) Jackie was just s/boiling the d/billy by Shaggy Gully Creek when Bruce pulled over a b/log for them to sit on..
…and there under the log was an old tin can, tied up with baling twine. And inside the can was a yellowed newspaper …. the last known copy of the once bestselling Snaggy Gully Times.
Jackie brushed off the spiders and Bruce deciphered all the mouldy bits- well, mostly, anyhow. And now everyone can read all about it!  
Will Sm/ellie the elephant and her friends escape Mr Nasty's Big City Poo? How about the mysterious blonde up the three bears b/gum tree? And what terrible accident happened to the Shabby Guppy Swimming Drool? Find All the News That's Fit to Stink, in this celebration of that old fashioned country newspaper, the Daggy Gunky Limes!

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Flood, and its Beginnings

I grew up in Brisbane, in houses on stilts with big verandas. Each year floods would surround us, water like café latte, thick with foam. We kids would dangle our feet over the veranda, and watch the cars screech to a stop at the floodwater.
Floods in those days were a break from school, the adventure of forming a human chain to haul my mother’s mini minor car back when it floated down the street (We tied it to the peach tree where it floated happily till the flood subsided.)
            It never occurred to us to be scared of floods. Every house we knew was built out of flood reach, and we all knew which streets that would turn into rivers when the tail of a cyclone whipped past, crashing corrugated iron and garbage bins against the fences.
             The first I knew of the 2011 Queensland floods was the call from a friend’s mother, in Townsville. She had just outraced a wall of water, frantically reversing her car and screaming to try to warn those still heading towards the floodwater. She cried as she said ‘They didn’t stop. None of them stopped!’ She had grown up with floods. They hadn’t. They didn’t know the savagery of water.
            The 2011 floods swept into unprepared towns. Land had been cleared, so the water gained speed. Houses had been built on flood plains, labelled ‘never to be built on’ in my childhood, but homes and gardens now.
            My father was frail, living next to the river, cut off by floodwater. He watched from his veranda as that tiny tugboat pushed and shoved the walkway out to sea. If it hadn’t, his home might have been swept away, and him as well. All I could do was stay on the phone, as he sat on his veranda and watched the river rise.
Dad was always a story teller, and I can still hear his voice showing me the dramas, hour by hour: the police rescue boat racing after a family stranded on an out of control houseboat, the café that floated past, still with the tables set for lunch.
            Dad died before the book was printed, but I still hear his voice on every page.
My brother provided shelter to other families whose homes were under water. The power might have been off but the BBQ gas bottles were full, and when they rang to say they were safe I could hear laughter in the background.
My nieces cooked and cooked. Another niece, a nurse, helped care for a dementia ward, as well as those who came to the nursing home for shelter. They were cut off for about 36 hours, and no other nurses could get in to relieve them. They kept on going. As she said, it’s just what you have to do.
As the water receded my brother and nephew joined thousands of others with mops, spades and hoses. My nieces kept cooking for the clean up, linking via the Internet with others to keep all the volunteers fed.
            More than 60,000 volunteers registered that first day. Probably double that number just turned up. But the most extraordinary thing was that none thought of themselves as heroes. They just did what was needed- and did it with jokes and laughter too. It was so very, very Australian.
            After Hurricane Katrina they locked the survivors in football stadiums. Australians held barbeques, cooked chocolate chip biscuits, and then got out the mops and shovels.
I was proud to be part of my family in those weeks. I felt and proud to be Australian, too.
The flood was still snaking through the streets when Andrew Berkut from Scholastic rang me and told me I had to write the book. And so I did, in ten days, instead of the three years a book usually takes. Bruce worked with the same urgency, and when I saw the strength and beauty of his work I cried again.
             Had we captured it? My hand shook as I gave the first copy to my brother. He had been there. I hadn’t. He looked it and said ‘I’d already forgotten what it was like. It’s a good book, Jacq. It’s important that we remember this.’
            Bruce and I were even more apprehensive about the reaction of kids who had lost homes and teddy bears in the flood. We had hoped to show that bad things happen, but that they pass too- and if you look, there are those who’ll help. But when we finally showed the children the book, on the morning of the launch, a small boy just touched one of Bruce’s extraordinary pages and said ‘I’d forgotten the flood was that colour.’ By the time I had finished reading the book, they were smiling.
            I think- I hope- that when kids read Flood they’ll remember the matter of fact heroism, the strength of hands that helped and offered hope, and not the terror of dark water that rose unstoppable in the night.

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 A Day to Remember
The Day We Remember
         The barges, lifeboats and rowing boats set out from the big ships before dawn on April 25, almost a hundred years ago. As the sky grew grey, the first men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on a narrow strip of Turkish beach.
Over the next six months a legend grew of heroes who advanced no matter what the odds; of mates who shared their last crust with a friend; of ‘diggers’ who refused to salute an officer, who died with a last joke and a grin.        
The stories left out a lot that didn’t fit the image. But it was also true.
          The first Anzac day in 1916 was created to urge more men to feed the war. A Day to Remember is the history of that one day of the year, and how it has changed over almost 100 years. It’s the story of Australia, too.
         My father in law landed at Anzac Cove, too. He never spoke of it.* Every year he marched, increasingly bitter, with friends unemployed because of the depression, or with lungs or eyes rotted from mustard gas. The marches were mostly men only affairs back then, as were the dawn services, in case crying women disturbed the silence.
         My childhood saw the battered and weary of World War two, men scarred in body and mind from Japanese prison camps or the Burma railway, the mothers of my friends and my violin teacher, who had survived concentration camps.
Boys of my own generation marched away as conscripts to Vietnam, while I walked in anti war demonstrations. As a historian I came up against determinedly uncooperative bureaucracy as I tried to check a list of places where Australian troops have been sent since the 1970’s#. While newspapers talk of Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, few Australians know our defense forces serve as peacekeepers places like Tonga, Cambodia, Somalia and Rwanda and Haiti. Peace is not easily won, or kept. But many do the best they can.
I’ve seen Anzac Day change from the grim faced marchers of my childhood, to the years when it seemed as if Anzac day might vanish except for a dedicated few, or when the Anzac day marchers faced anti conscription demonstrations, and women with placards who demanded the right to march too. In the past two decades our reawakening sense of history has recreated Anzac day yet again. Each year the marches are larger, the commemorations broader. Anzac Day itself has been a catalyst for many people to discover Australian’s history, too.
         Last Anzac day I stood with friends in Braidwood’s main street.  Children marched with their grandparents’ medals. A poodle sat next to us, a sprig of rosemary in its collar. A kid called out ‘Daddy’ as her father passed.  Most of us, I think, wept a little as the Last Post played.
         And we remembered.
For some it was a celebration of military tradition. Others in the crowd were pacifists, or felt that Australians shouldn’t be in Afghanistan. It didn’t matter. There are many different memories that make up Anzac day now. We remembered fathers, husbands, aunts, sons, daughters and grandfathers; those who our country sent to war and then forgot, when they returned home damaged; the starving and tortured who struggle towards refugee camps; all who suffer in war, or give their lives to try to make things better.
I wrote A Day to Remember because by   honouring the suffering and sacrifice of others we find the gift of empathy ourselves. On this one day of the year, it is good to stand together, and remember not just the past, but why we need to remember, too.

*For those trying to calculate my husband’s age: Jack Sullivan survived Gallipoli and World War 1, though probably never quite recovered. He married and had children late in life.
# The six months of attempts to get two short paragraphs of already public information approved as accurate by the Department of Defence for a history series for kids would take at least three pages to describe.