Tag Archives: Australian Christmas

The Australian Twelve Days of Christmas – Heath McKenzie


On the 11th day…


Black Dog Books

First published 2006

ISBN 1921167319

RRP (per Riverbend Books) $12.99 as a 2009 published board book edition

Lucky enough to have a signed copy of this one – which has been a favourite for years. Heath McKenzie brings his own unique illustrative style to a different take on the old standard.

Small does enjoy this version – but possibly mostly because of my crazed out-of-breath reading of it, which seems to fit the illustrations! – she does find the possums a tad evil looking as they maniacally play their video games. I rather like the ‘Eight flies feasting’ because, after all, what is Christmas (and summer) in Australia without the wretched things.

Check out Heath’s website here.

Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle – Glenda Millard/Stephen Michael King


On the 10th day ……


ISBN: 9780733322495
Australian Pub.: November 2008
Illustrated By: Stephen Michael King
Publisher: ABC BOOKS
Subject: Picture books

RRP $24.95

This is one of my favourite Christmas books ever but strangely I didn’t own a copy myself – until I spotted it at the local newsagent on sale a couple of days ago.

In this country of ours where so often natural disasters can come swiftly and with a great vengeance this beautiful story resonates and gives hope to the youngest of readers.

One little pig, thinking about the loss of her beautiful surroundings after the ravages of drought and bushfire, is so sad and despairing, not just for herself but for her humans, Joe and Marigold. How can they possibly have Christmas when all around them is scarred and bare and black?

But Applesauce had reckoned without the giving nature of good friends and family – and the joy that both the simplest of things and the most miraculous can bring.

Beautifully written and illustrated likewise this is a sublime example of both the true Christmas spirit and the true Australian spirit.

You can find some teaching notes on this and other books which were shortlisted in the CBC 2009 Awards here.

Christmas in Australia – John Williamson/Mitch Vane


On the 2nd day of Christmas my true love gave to me…………………



Format:Hardback, 32 pages





Publisher:Penguin Aus.


First of all, let me start with my favourite John Williamson story. A long time ago, probably around 1987 or so, I was the leader of a very enthusiastic Brownie Pack in Brisbane and the Save the Koala campaign was kicking in. These little girls and I were committed to highlighting the plight of the koala and were planning a presentation for our usual Christmas activity of presenting at our local nursing home and other functions. In those days before my teacher-librarian research skills (indeed teaching skills) were even thought of and certainly before the ease of internet research, I was struggling to find the sheet music & lyrics for John’s Goodbye Blinky Bill song. The music teacher at my local primary school said she knew John and had a contact address for him so I duly wrote and explained my dilemma.  This wonderful and generous human responded with not only an autographed copy of the sheet music but the 45 record (yes! It was that long ago!) also autographed, with a lovely handwritten note telling me to keep up the good work with these little Australians.

About seven years later, I was teaching in my first post in the South Burnett and John came to Kingaroy – I took my daughter, Mum and stepfather to the concert and after the show, John came out the front of the hall and chatted, signed posters etc and proved himself what I had already known – a top bloke!

After all that it gives me the greatest pleasure to review this book as my ‘2nd day of Christmas’ offering on Just So Stories.

Many people will already know the Christmas Photo song but this concept of putting the lyrics into a picture book format with the superb illustrations of Mitch Vane was an inspiration!

This is quintessentially Australian Christmas time: cricket and camping, family, food and fun, Santa in a ute and nicknames all around as one Aussie family tries to get everybody into the annual photo. Mitch Vane’s illustrations are perfectly suited to the rambunctiousness of the whole production with much detail for observant readers to discover and compare with their own experiences.

A terrific book for exploring family traditions at this festive time of year!

By the way, if you enter the ISBN of the book at John Williamson’s website, you can download the mp3 of the song for free (which sadly wouldn’t embed here!)

Enjoy the magic of our absolutely incomparable Aussie ‘bush’ troubadour and share with your family. Don’t forget to make sure everyone is in the Xmas Day photo!!!