The Wrap Up of #100daysofbooks! (our donation, and some comments about gender)

So, we reached 100 in the #100daysofbooks project! Thankyou to everyone who followed along and made suggestions on what we should read. Some of the books I wasn't able to source in time, but I have on my list to find and read anyway. And having reached the end, as pledged, we have today made a $250 donation to the Indigenous Literary Foundation. Thankyou to everyone who's bought one of my books for making this possible.

In the final wrap up of the project, I'll say that I enjoyed it, even though sometimes it was a challenge to both read the book and put up a post each day! It's given me a new appreciation for the breadth of children's picture books, and made us regulars at the local library (never a bad thing!). The one sad thing that stood out to me was how gender skewed the books seemed to be. Now, we only read 100, but I did a break down and:

  • Nearly half the books (47) were overtly about a male character, while
  • Only 11 were about an overtly female character. In addition,
  • Another 12 the characters were a mix of male and female, and
  • In 30, the gender of the characters was not clear.

It's a bit disappointing to me, especially as some of the books also perpetuated gender stereotypes and "traditional" roles. I believe very strongly that stories are a huge part of how we make sense of the world. For women to achieve true equality (and no, we are NOT there yet) we need both men and women to see stories that represent the proportions of us, and the multitude of roles we play. With a few exceptions, I have this slightly sinking feeling that picture books aren't doing that for children. And if they're not, then I really want to ask why not. Anyway, food for thought.

Book 32 - The Tale of Peter Rabbit #100daysofbooks (verdict: a classic and still makes me anxious!)

Day 32. I remember The Tale of Peter Rabbit really well even though I probably haven't read it in nearly 30 years, and it still makes me anxious. The story conveys how enormous the McGregors' yard is, and the terror of being lost in it and at risk of being caught for pie! Even knowing that Peter makes it out doesn't help. Maybe that's why this is such a classic story. Of course, the moral of the tale is 'listen to what your mother tells you'. The illustrations are quite lovely, too.

Master A's verdict: Paid attention despite the fact it's probably a bit long for his age.


  • Title: The Classic Tale of Peter Rabbit
  • Author/Illustrator: Beatrix Potter / Charles Santore
  • Source: Borrowed from local library
  • Publisher: Cider Mill Press

What's on tomorrow? One about Santa and wee.


Book 28 - My Dad is a FIFO Dad #100daysofbooks (verdict: if you FIFO, here's one for you - but write letters!)

Day 29's book is My Dad is a FIFO Dad. We've done our time in this household with the FIFO lifestyle, on roughly a 10-and-2 roster (FIFOers will get that). It had some advantages - I got lots of time to write, and some travel came out of it. But there were huge downsides too. This was all before Master A, and I can appreciate the added complexity with kids in the picture. This book, then, is aimed at fostering some coping strategies, and providing moral support for when Dad's away.

A few things niggled at me about it ... firstly, I hope there's a companion title called My Mum is a FIFO Mum ... I acknowledge that most workers on mine sites I worked at were men, but not ALL of them. The structure got a bit weird at the end ... and I'm not sure about promoting the idea that a parent works away because what they do is important ... I sort of felt that implied the family at home wasn't as important. When I was a kid my dad worked away, too (long before FIFO ... dad didn't come home nearly that often) and I think it was more helpful to think that it was just his job. And one other thing - while the book suggests kids write in a diary, or contact their dad on Skype, never did it suggest to write him an old-school letter. That's what I used to do - and those letters meant a lot to me. I still have some of them. It struck me as something special that FIFO parents and kids could do. There's long boring nights in camp. Have times really changed so much?

Anyway, the heart of this book is in the right place.

Master A's verdict: Paid attention to the pictures, but the words are prose (no rhyme or rhythm).


  • Title: My Dad is a FIFO Dad
  • Author/Illustrator: Jo Emery / Ann-Marie Finn
  • Source: Borrowed from local library
  • Publisher: Dragon Tales

What's on tomorrow? Library pick.


Book 25 - The Story of Ferdinand #100daysofbooks (verdict: simple and sweet)

Day 25 and another Dad reading, this time The Story of Ferdinand, another classic from the 30s (now, that's longevity). This has simple (but very sweet) illustrations. I only knew the story from the animation, which had much more Disney-esque depictions, and I preferred the book. There's two odd moments where the story takes special trouble to point out that Ferdinand's mother is a cow (which seemed obvious, being as he's a bull, leading you to wonder if they were stressing the point for another reason), but all in all, it's a lovely story (sadly rare) of a bull marked for a fight in Spain and coming out well at the end.

Thanks to Maria Gunn for the recommendation :)

Master A's verdict: Enjoyed this, and the simple black and white illustrations seemed appealing. Another one for the regular rotation.


  • Title: The Story of Ferdinand
  • Author/Illustrator: Munroe Leaf / Robert Lawson
  • Source: Purchased online and in home library
  • Publisher: Viking

What's on tomorrow? A new purchase.


Book 23 - Mr Sneeze #100daysofbooks (verdict: classic Mr Men)

Day 23 and Mr Sneeze. I owned all the Mr Mens when I was a kid - Dad and I used to collect them from the newsagent. It took a very long time to find the last one we were missing (can't remember now if it was Mr Tickle or Mr Mean), but sadly I have no idea what happened to the collection. In any case, Master A has a habit of two sneezes followed by a little "oh" sound, which has become so characteristic that Mr Sneeze seemed a natural choice.

There's heaps more words and less pictures than most books for kids his age, but as an adult I had forgotten the distinctive voice of the Mr Men books - authoritative, and infused with silliness, seriousness, and magic when needed. Must go ask Mum if we still have the old copies.

Master A's verdict: A bit old for him at the moment with not enough pictures, but we'll try again later.


  • Title: Mr Sneeze (Mr. Men No. 5)
  • Author/Illustrator: Roger Hargreaves
  • Source: Gift from Dad
  • Publisher: Penguin

What's on tomorrow? Something very cool!


Book 19 - What Noise Does a Rabbit Make? #100daysofbooks (verdict: lovely pics)

Day 19, and What Noise Does a Rabbit Make? I admit I picked this one up because my brain went, 'but what does the fox say? hee hee'. Oh dear - pop culture is so pervasive. Anyhoo, I love the illustrations in this book. The raggedy outlines of the bunnies are really engaging, especially on the oversized pages, and the colour schemes really capture the dawn/day change. Each double page was wonderful to look at. The text and story itself ... not so enamoured. It seems mostly about making barnyard animal noises. I did however like the subtle message that it's not a bad thing that you don't have something everyone else has.

Some part of my Australian mind was looking at all those rabbits and thinking, geez, that's a rabbit plague. But I digress. This will be one to try again when Master A is older and engaged by animal sounds.

Master A's verdict: Did pay attention to the pages, but didn't seem to care for my reading of the story (which does't rhyme). This is definitely an early prose book, and you can't read it in the rhythm of a poem.


What's on tomorrow? Where the Wild Things Are.


Book 15 - The little boy who lost his name #100daysofbooks

Day 15. The boy who lost his name is a personalised book made specific to the child's name. The titular boy of the story goes on an adventure meeting creatures whose first letter makes up his name, so the name is found in the end. I like the idea behind this book, and it's a lovely gift idea. It rhymes with a pretty easy to read rhythm. I did wonder what on earth happens if the kid's name is something long like Cassandra or Sebastian ... I thought the story was pretty lengthy with Master A's four-letter name! But maybe that will make it a bed-deferring favourite ;)

If you like the idea for a child in your life, there's a link below to the website. The people who produce this book are hiring, too :)

Master A's verdict: Quite engaged by the text and the pictures, despite it being maybe just a bit long for his attention span at this age.


  • Title: The little boy who lost his name
  • Author/Illustrator: David Cadji-Newby / Pedro Serapicos
  • Source: Gift from grandparents
  • Publisher: Self-pubbed - see link above

What's on tomorrow? No idea ...


Book 10 - Baby Beats (and a trip to @BNElibraries Indooroopilly) #100daysofbooks

Day 10. Yesterday we made a foray off into the local library, and even having avoided a duel with the parking nightmare at Indro by walking, still arrived a little tuckered out. No matter - a storytime was going on, and Master A and I stayed a few minutes while he enjoyed the new environs of the home of books. Then I grabbed seven books almost at random (with a couple of familiar names like Quentin Blake and Alan Ahlberg) to take home. (Local libraries all have reading times for babies and kids, so check out your local council libraries for times).

Having looked at all of them, I culled a few choices (maybe I'll talk about that later ...) and today we read Baby Beats, which was a nominee for this year's CBCA Awards. Combining onomatopoeic sound words with simple language lines, it rhymes pleasingly and clearly it's been a hit with other small library patrons with a ripped page in the middle (I'm a devotee of the carnal loving of books, so I take this as a good sign).

Master A's verdict: Listens carefully to the words. Seemed to like the appearance of the cat near the end.


  • Title: Baby Beats
  • Author/Illustrator: Karen Blair
  • Source: BCC Library
  • Publisher: Walker Books

What's on tomorrow? Another of our library picks.


Book 5 - Where is the Green Sheep? #100daysofbooks

Day 5, and Where is the Green Sheep? Tons of friends recommended this one, and there's something really lovely about it - so simple and yet so engaging. I often read it wrong - when it gets to the 'wide sheep' I always look at the picture and say 'fat sheep'. Hmmm ... a psychoanalyst would have a field day. But! It's fun with joyful illustrations and a nice rhythm. From the pen of Mem Fox, beloved Australian writer of children's books, I could read this over and over. And it's another one that ends appropriately for bedtime (I'm sensing a pattern with this in picture books .. who would have thought?) Also, Mem Fox reads it aloud here.

UPDATE: If you're interested in some insights into Mem Fox's writing, and about Where is the Green Sheep? particularly, fellow writer and friend Caylie Jeffery wrote this blog after Mem gave a talk at the (now sadly closed) Black Cat Books.

Master A's verdict: Loves this one and always wants to grab the pages.


  • Title: Where is the Green Sheep?
  • Author/Illustrator: Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
  • Source: Gift from friends and in home library
  • Publisher: Penguin

What's on tomorrow? Not sure - will be diving into the pile.

 what's this #100DAYSOFBOOKS?

Book 4 - Each Peach Pear Plum #100daysofbooks


Day 4, and we went for Each Peach Pear Plum, which combines the idea behind 'where's wally' and a picture book. The text is sweet and rhyming with each page a challenge of spotting the nominated character(s). Probably better for an older child who can have a good time trying to pick apart the lovely illustrations.

Master A's verdict: Likes the three bears, and the ensemble appearance at the end!


  • Title: Each Peach Pear Plum
  • Author/Illustrator: Janet and Allan Ahlberg
  • Source: Gift from friends
  • Publisher: Puffin

What's on tomorrow? I think ... Where is the Green Sheep?