Wednesday, April 22, 2020

D IS FOR DOWN UNDER: A Picture Book Review and Giveaway

Look at this cover.

Now, look again. 

This is a great example of illustrator, Geoff Cook's self-defined quirky sense of humor. The illustrations in D is For Down Under: An Australian Alphabet are just part of what will engage readers in a book that is part of Sleeping Bear Press's Discover the World series. The text by Devin Scillian combines poems for young readers and longer exposition for students in grades 2-4. Facts, trivia, and history are packed into spreads about every letter of the alphabet. 


The perfect opening for this book is A for Aboriginal People. The reader immediately learns of the ancient people who first populated this island continent. Their art, music, and traditions still influence Australian culture. 

The following pages contain both familiar facts and unusual information that will entertain and educate. Take "G" for example. You probably would expect that in a book about Australia, G might be for the Great Barrier Reef:
You're swimming round in snorkel and mask staring in disbelief, 
surrounded by our letter G, the Great Barrier Reef. 
Sharks and starfish turtles and whales, fish of every size.
The colors of the rainbow parade before your eyes.

In the same way, you might guess that K would be for kangaroos, koalas, and kookaburras. 

But, would you have guessed that  E is for Echidna? This spiny anteater rolls up into a ball to defend himself and is only found in Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea. 

Maybe you have heard of a Jackaroo, but I guarantee the illustration of this modern farmhand will get some laughs out of young readers!

Q is for Qantas Airline--what else? Here's another example of Geoff's artistic humor and Scillian's poetry:

Do you know what Vegemite is? It's a brown sticky paste that Australians and New Zealanders love to eat on toast. It tastes salty and slightly bitter and apparently is a treat that the rest of the world doesn't quite appreciate.

W is for Waltzing Matilda. I remember singing this folk song in elementary school--without a clue as to what the words mean!

All of the other letters of the alphabet are appropriately honored with their contributions to Australia's landscape and people. This book would make a great classroom resource as well as a fantastic read-aloud at home or in a library.  


I am giving away one copy of D is For Down Under through my blog, and another through the spring issue of Talking Story on Australasia. Leave a comment on my blog (along with your email address if you are new to my blog) for one chance to win. Leave another comment through the link provided in Talking Story and you'll be entered twice. (Tip: You'll find other giveaways through the newsletter too!) Winners will be drawn on April 25. 


Susan said...

This sounds like a fun book. My babies are a bit young right now but in a few years...Thanks Carol!

Connie Porter Saunders said...

Hi Carol, this looks like a fun and educational book. I actually knew what vegemite is.
Thanks for sharing and hope you stay safe!

Ant94 said...

happy earth day
peace on earth - no more war

Ant94 said...

Happy earth day
peace on earth!

Ant94 said...

Hello!\happy earth day & peace on earth

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a great book. I know what Vegemite is as I grew up in Australia. I love it on my toast.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Susan, Ant94, and Connie. I'll start the list with your names!

Sandra Warren said...

What a great example of an alphabet book that is instructive in more than one way; teaching the alphabet while exposing children to animals from another country through humor and rhyme. The illustrations are amazing.

Thank you for sharing this Australian author and illustrator.

Danielle H. said...

I have read books like this one before and learn so much about the topic. This will be a fun look into Australia.

Jana Leah B said...

This book looks fun & I love the illustrations.
turtle6422 at gmail dot com

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks Jana Leah, Danielle, and Sandra. Your names are in!

Barbara Younger said...

Would love this. Australians have fabulous senses of humor, and it looks like this book captures that humor!

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Barbara. This is such a fun book. Your grands would love it!

Rosi said...

This looks like a terrific book. The illustrtions are so much fun. Thanks for telling me about this.

Young Authors Program said...

I love these types of ABC picture books!

Gretchen said...

Sorry I'm too late to put my name in the hat for a copy! It sounds like my kind of book. My daughter lived in Australia for a while and would recognize many of the letter references.

Carol Baldwin said...

Sorry, Gretchen! But get the book for her anyway. It's so FUN!

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