Book 22 - The Story of the Little Mole who knew it was none of his business #100daysofbooks (verdict: poo, and revenge!)

The Little Mole (no. 22) is a story about poo, and revenge. But mostly poo. Basically, a little mole is shat on and goes on a journey to find out who did it, so he can poo on them back. No, really. This is a badass story (in a toddler sense, if that's possible) but manages to be entirely charming with its exploration of the colour and consistency of all animal business, if you know what I mean. Of course, that's how all the bad boys get you in (with charm, I mean, not with animal dung). I was mesmerised by the subject matter being in print, but go with it ... it's funny, and surprisingly informative. I just hope it doesn't lead to bum gun preoccupations in real life (like this dude who pooed in a tunnel in NZ ... no really) because I suspect it will become a favourite once Master A is old enough to appreciate the subject matter!

Thanks very much to Betty Bath for the suggestion :) You can find it being read on YouTube here. Originally a German title, among the weirdest things I read is that it's been adapted for the stage in the Netherlands. Okay then!

Master A's verdict: Paid attention, probably because I was laughing.


  • Title: The Story of the Little Mole (who knew it was none of his business)
  • Author/Illustrator: Werner Holzwarth / Wolf Erlbruch
  • Source: Ordered online and in home library
  • Publisher: Pavilion

What's on tomorrow? Probably another library pick.


Book 21 - If Kisses Were Colours #100daysofbooks (verdict: gentle and lovely)

No. 21 is If Kisses were Colours. This is a gentle story of simple metaphors for a parent's love, and not much more really needs to be said. The illustrations are folksy, and the message is tender. I would read this one again.

Master A's verdict: A quick read with both rhyme and brightly coloured pages equaled full attention.


  • Title: If Kisses were Colours
  • Author/Illustrator: Janet Lawler / Alison Jay
  • Source: Borrowed from local library
  • Publisher: Dial Books

What's on tomorrow? Probably another library pick.


Book 20 - Where the Wild Things Are #100daysofbooks (verdict: reputation solid, but not a fan)


No. 20  and we come to the all conquering classic, Where the Wild Things Are. This is a picture book that has transcended its original form, even being made into a feature film in 2009. First published in the 60s, it won the Caldecott Medal and I don't remember a time when I wasn't aware of the story - a lecturer friend of mine even uses it as an example of narrative structure in creative writing courses. So I feel a great pressure to like it. But I don't. And I didn't, even as a kid.

I remember vividly not being able to identify with Max or the story - something about it was really unsatisfying to my kid brain. I know a lot of adults who don't like it think Max is a bit of a jerk and is rewarded for bad behaviour (i.e. Max is being kinda awful, is sent to his room, escapes into an imaginary fantasy where he bosses around the wild things, wants to be back where he's loved the most, then despite all the shenanigans, finds he has supper waiting when he gets home). I'm not so worried about that - I appreciate this is a story from a child's POV, without the adult moralising colouring the story (even if Max doesn't have any likable qualities for me). Academically, I like that and find it interesting, but only for analysis - you could make all the arguments you want about it, but I'll still feel the same way: as a story to read, it's still kinda meh for me, almost boring. Max has an imagination, boo hoo.  It doesn't touch my (cold?) heart at all.

That's okay. Given the huge popularity, no doubt it doesn't need my seal of approval, and not everyone likes everything (that would be highly suspicious). I do find with things that are massively loved, however, if you don't enjoy them it's awkward (ask me about Lord of the Rings). So I decided to be very honest. Sorry, WTWTA.

Master A's verdict: Wasn't interested in this one at all. Again, it's prose not poetry and the colours/contrast in the illustration style is muted, so unlikely to appeal to him.


  • Title: Where the Wild Things Are
  • Author/Illustrator: Maurice Sendak
  • Source: Borrowed from local library
  • Publisher: Red Fox

What's on tomorrow? Another library pick.


Book 18 - Be the best ever EVER astronaut #100daysofbooks (verdict: not so sure about the ending ...)

Day 18. So, right from the start I need to acknowledge my first degree was mechanical and space engineering, some of which I did spent building rockets (plus some time later at the CSIRO). So I'm a bit of a tough customer with space stuff (I remember some of us going to see Armageddon as students - the others in the cinema probably hated the running commentary). But anyway - I'm not your lay audience, put it that way. I'm going to assume a few things in this are for ironic humour (such as the rocket being full of knobs, and everyone wearing badges with their names on them, except the protagonist whose says 'me'. Useful.). These did amuse me. And I can forgive the stuff that stretches the reality of what astronauts currently do, and the simplifications (which felt a bit patronising, even for a kids' story) - the boundary to science fiction is probably thinnest in space.

But I am somewhat concerned with the self-aggrandising ending, where the astronaut is very famous, gets a medal and has their picture painted. I know we're in a celebrity culture, but wow ... did we really have to go there? Doesn't seem to be the point to be emphasising. Hmmmm.

Master A's verdict: Dad ironing shirts across the room was more interesting than the book, but to be fair he's more into books with rhyme and rhythm now, and can appreciate neither fact finding or ironic humour.


  • Title: Be the best ever EVER astronaut
  • Author/Illustrator: Moira Butterfield / Caroline Davis
  • Source: Gift and in home library
  • Publisher: Parragon Book Service

What's on tomorrow? Undecided.


Book 17 - Puff the Magic Dragon #100daysofbooks (verdict: I'm so depressed :()

Day 17. OMG!!! So, Puff the Magic Dragon is a timeless children's song, but lord, the ending. I'm so depressed! I only remembered the first verse and the chorus from childhood, so obviously I never learned the last few verses (or maybe it was only in the book??). In any case, wow. Could have done without that, especially as the tune is going to do laps in my head as I try to sleep tonight. The illustrations are nice, I guess, but I'm kinda miffed. Those last two pictures that try to say there's a happy ending beyond the words? Not buying it! *sad face*

Celebrating 50 magical (and sad, boo hoo) years.

Master A's verdict: Seemed to appreciate me trying to sing it, thought the "and girls" they've added to one of the lines that used to end in just "boys" completely mucks the rhythm. Fortunately he's too young to be traumatised by Puff's fate. Probably a good thing.


  • Title: Puff the Magic Dragon
  • Author/Illustrator: Peter Yarrow, Lenny Lipton / Eric Puybaret
  • Source: Borrowed from our local library
  • Publisher: Sterling

What's on tomorrow? Raiding home library again.


Book 16 - The House in the Night #100daysofbooks

Day 16. The House in the Night won the Cadlecott Medal in 2009 for the illustrations (the shiny gold award sticker on the front I must admit is why I picked it up), and I can see why. The moody black and grey pictures with simple yellow highlights create a restful atmosphere that I can see being perfect before bed. The images have a lithographic feel to me, which evokes a fairy tale vibe even though most of the settings are familiar and urban - it's a transformative kind of magic. Full marks. That's sorta where my admiration for it ends, though. The actual words, which are very sparse, are going for a very nice sentiment. But I find them awkward to read, and the text lacks some sort of cohesion and poetry that I've seen done better in many other books. As an adult reading the story, I feel as though there isn't really anything here for me beyond the beautiful pictures (and they're almost enough to make up for it).

This one came courtesy of a trip to the library to refresh our borrow pile, so we've a fresh crop to test out this coming week, and a few other recommendations that should arrive in the post any day now.

Master A's verdict: Spent a long time looking at the pictures. No obvious signs of enjoying the words. Might try again when he's older.


  • Title: The House in the Night
  • Author/Illustrator: Susan Swanson / Beth Krommes
  • Source: Borrowed from our local library
  • Publisher: HMH Books

What's on tomorrow? Another library pick.


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 14 - Noni the Pony goes to the beach #100daysofbooks

Day 14. We ventured out for story time at the local library today, but I must have read the program wrong because we arrived to find nothing happening. No matter, there was heaps of books and a quiet corner to read in. Nearby was a grandma reading to a little boy of maybe 3 years, and Master A was enraptured with the sights of other children who could walk and run and OMG! It was lovely. I can see we're going to be regular visitors there.

Anyway, the book I plucked to read was Noni the Pony goes to the beach. I was horse obsessed as a child, and read anything with a horse in it. The fact got me in some strife with my year 5 teacher who (unfortunately) chose to discourage my obsession and in so doing created a rift with reading that hasn't ever truly mended. So Noni the Pony was gloriously nostalgic for me, echoing back to a time before that incident when books were full of wondrous adventures free from judgement. This story is sweet too, a rhyming tale of animals enjoying themselves at the seaside. Some books in an effort to rhyme are a bit laboured and overreaching in the chosen words, but this one isn't. Really loved it.

I discovered after the fact that this title was short-listed this year for a CBCA Book of the Year award, and that Alison Lester is a well-loved author of children's picture books, and also spends time in remote Indigenous communities. It's fitting therefore to have included this book in the 100 days project, and I'll be looking for more from her.

Master A's verdict: Loves the simple illustrations, and the book is the right length for his attention span. Would read again :)


  • Title: Noni the Pony goes to the beach (apologies on the shaky cover shot - baby wriggling to see something across the room)
  • Author/Illustrator: Alison Lester
  • Source: Plucked from the "L" bin at Indooroopilly Library
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin

What's on tomorrow? No idea ...


Book 13 - The Magic Quilt #100daysofbooks

Day 13, and it's freezing in the house, so rather than a library book I picked The Magic Quilt, which came from Grandma along with an actual quilt. The story follows Toby as the quilt transports him to fantastical scenarios and back again. The idea is cute and although Master A isn't yet using his quilt (which is red. black and white and has scotty dogs on it) I'm sure he will in the future. I enjoyed the story and the sentiment behind it - it's all about that magical escape that childhood is about, and at the same time, the comfort of familiar things.

Master A's verdict: He enjoys this book, particularly the full double-page colour illustrations, like the train. It's perhaps a bit long for his attention span at this age, but a bit of time will fix that.


  • Title: The Magic Quilt
  • Author/Illustrator: Katie Sokolic / Glenn Sokolic
  • Source: Gift from Grandma and in home library
  • Publisher: Red Forest Creations

What's on tomorrow? Another library pick - or - if we make it to reading morning at the library, whatever we hear there.


Book 12 - That's not my donkey (sigh ...) #100daysofbooks

Day 12. Sigh. I want to say lots of positive things about all these books. One thing that does boggle me (being a writer) is the production logistics in something like these touchy-feely titles. It must be hell trying to bind them (I speak from experience, having produced a book at school for kids along similar lines - tying shoelaces, doing up buttons, etc - the teacher pinged me for sloppy glue technique). Anyway, so I marvel ... but I do have to wonder if the effort is worth it. It's a pretty product, but as a story book? Not so sure. Perhaps it might be good for learning adjectives, but I honestly don't feel that there's so much differentiation between all the textures to make it worthwhile - I don't even think some of them match (the fuzzy/furry ears just feel rough to me). And for me as an adult, reading it is a tad painful. That's not my  donkey x 7 or so ... sigh. Where did all these donkeys come from? I can see what's going to happen. A bigger story will have to be constructed. There we are, silver lining.

We have two of these titles (the other being about a bunch of dinosaurs instead). They aren't my first pick, but if Master A wants it, I shall provide (because there's nothing worse than someone else judging what you want to read). Just he doesn't. Not yet.

Master A's verdict: He's still a bit young for this, I think (and to be fair, the publisher's site does say 6+ months). He wants to touch the pages, but not the texture-y bits. The story is sooo simple that there's little auditory to engage him in the meantime.


  • Title: That's not my donkey
  • Author/Illustrator: Fiona Watt / Rachel Wells
  • Source: Gift from friends and in home library
  • Publisher: Usborne Books

What's on tomorrow? Another library pick!


Book 11 - The Great Balloon Hullaballoo #100daysofbooks

Day 11. I'm especially appreciative of the inventiveness that is The Great Balloon Hullaballoo. I mean, any book that can take a shopping trip and turn it into Gravity meets nursery rhymes, I salute you. Totally didn't see where this one was going, and Lol'd extensively at the toilet rolls being bought on Uranus. But of course. Snigger, snigger. We borrowed this from the library, but I'll be looking to add it to the permanent home library. Felt like a big adventure in just a few pages.

Master A's verdict: Laughed at the Uranus bit too, but mostly because I was laughing. Though clearly babies are connoisseurs of toilet humour ... maybe he understands more than I think.


What's on tomorrow? Might have to bite the bullet and do the one/s I don't like, just to see if he does.


Book 9 - Grug #100daysofbooks

Day 9. You might remember yesterday's reading invoked childhood associations with chocolate. Well, the beneficiary of that was the local Koko Black (too bad, Cadbury) where I spent rather too much on Belgian delights. Partly I blame Michael Mosley, whose doco on pleasure and pain (watched in parts today) displayed lots of chocolate on screen. Too much suggestion for me to resist, I'm afraid. But speaking of pleasure and pain, today's new reading was the Australian classic Grug, which spawned many more Grug adventures and animations, merchandising, etc.

I really want to like this book. It was in my primary school classrooms. And there is something appealing about the idea. But it's not as I remember, and in the act of reading I just ... don't like it. Not yet, anyway. It doesn't have a rhythm, itsand the ending is just weird and abrupt. Sorry, Grug. I guess the fortunate thing is that this is a short one ... so if Master A likes it, happy to read it. Not sure he does yet though.

Master A's verdict: Far more interested in turning the pages. Couldn't engage him with reading the text today.


  • Title: Grug
  • Author/Illustrator: Ted Prior
  • Source: Gift from friends and in home library
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster

What's on tomorrow? We're going to the library today, so who knows!


Book 8 - Snug as a Hug #100daysofbooks

Day 8, and the Australian lullaby Snug as a Hug. This book is beautiful - huge pages with cuddly illustrations of sleeping native animals. Makes me think of chocolate, which clearly means the Cadbury marketing machine did its work well with the 'furry friends' when I was a kid. That's a bit disturbing really. Speaking of disturbing, I know this is meant to be a bedtime book, so we read it right before the first nap. Yeah, bad idea. Pretty pictures means excitement. And Master A seems to have cottoned on to the idea of turning pages without having quite the motor skills to do it. We'll work on that. But we might keep this exciting one for awake readings for now! Text wise, the words are simple but effective - poetic with a lovely ending.

Master A's verdict: Got so excited about the pictures he found it difficult to nap. Also thought the pages looked tasty. Nom nom nom.


  • Title: Snug as a Hug
  • Author/Illustrator: Marcia Vaughan / Pamela Lofts
  • Source: Gift from friends and in home library
  • Publisher: Scholastic

What's on tomorrow? Hmmm ... another dive into the pile.


Book 7 - Go the **** to Sleep #100daysofbooks

Day 7, and with Go the F*** to Sleep we have perhaps our most controversial (and hilarious) entry. Now, I stress I'm reading this one because he's too young to understand the words, and it's not going to become a regular feature. Having said that, I find social views on swearing interesting - there's a bunch of research that finds generally held beliefs aren't supported (e.g. that swearing 'corrupts' children, that it's a sign of an immature mind expressing itself, or is a sign of low social status - all of these things are not held up under scrutiny - I know, I wrote a paper on it a while back). Swearing actually serves some crucial functions in language and social interaction, and for children, we more or less expect them to know the bad words in order NOT to use them. These words therefore end up with lots of emotion attached to them, so they end up processed in a different part of the brain, and tend to come out when we need to express strong emotions (or bond with a social group, which is kinda the same thing), which is all fascinating. But anyway - none of this means I'm going to read a ranty book to Master A as he gets old enough to get it. This one is definitely for me! And with a quote from Mem Fox on the cover, who's going to argue?

On the reading experience, I mucked the cadence a bit, but it's quite funny, and he had a laugh with me without knowing why. Given he's just started sleeping longer, I feel this one might be tempting the god of Murphy, but it's done now.

For further adult amusement, you can also find Samuel L. Jackson reading it here, and if you want to never see Playschool the same way again, Noni Hazelhurst here.

Master A's verdict: Smiled along. Not as enraptured with the pictures, but joined in the jolly time anyway.


  • Title: Go The F*** to Sleep
  • Author/Illustrator: Adam Mansbach / Ricardo Cortes
  • Source: Gift from friends and in home library
  • Publisher: Akashic Books

What's on tomorrow? Heading back to Australiana with Snug as a Hug.


Book 6 - Madeline #100daysofbooks

Day 6, and the classic Madeline. This one's tricky. The illustrations are sweet, but I find the rhythm and rhyme so difficult to get right reading aloud. Sometimes it seems like it rhymes, then it doesn't, and some pages you have to fly past to keep the rhythm. I read it a couple of times trying to make it seem pleasing and I know I didn't nail it - I'll have to practice being consistent and maybe try again later. Having said that, I have a sketchy childhood memory of not enjoying Madeline, because I couldn't relate to Paris, or nuns, and I thought the kids in the story were silly for wanting their appendices out, too. Funny, the things you remember. Published in 1934, this one has obviously stood the test of time in many households, and spawned a franchise of other books and animation. Just not sure it's going to be a favourite here.

Master A's verdict: Paid attention and was very forgiving of my sub-par poetic efforts :).


  • Title: Madeline
  • Author/Illustrator: Ludwig Bemelmans
  • Source: Gift from friends and in home library
  • Publisher: Puffin

What's on tomorrow? A few choices ... might choose a controversial one ;)


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?

Book 3 – M is for Metal #100daysofbooks


Day 3, and we cracked into a more ... alternative type of picture book :) M is for Metal is definitely one to appeal to the parents with a tongue-in-cheek take on the alphabet book, complete with nostalgic references to bands from AC/DC to Queen and The Who. It rhymes and despite being the whole alphabet, feels a good length. Ends up at a place that makes it a bedtime book, too.

Master A's verdict: Loves the cartoon-y illustrations.


  • Title: M is for Metal
  • Author/Illustrator: Paul McNeil, Barry Divola
  • Source: Gift from friends
  • Publisher: Love Police

What's on tomorrow? I think ... Each Peach Pear Plum

Book 2 - Room on the Broom #100daysofbooks

About #100daysofbooks

Day 2, and we had an early morning story today. I didn't realise this was an incredibly popular picture book title (it even has its own animated film version), but I can see why - lovely cadence and elegant rhymes, and very onomatopoeic (if that's a word ...). A longer book that takes you on a full story journey, and lots of text on each page so Master A could look at the pictures for a while each turn. Loved the ending!

Master A's verdict: Lots of smiles and laughs at how the words sound in this book. Will probably make it into the popular rotation.


  • Title: Room on the Broom
  • Author/Illustrator: Julia Donaldson / Axel Scheffler
  • Source: Gift from friends
  • Publisher: Macmillan



What's on tomorrow? I think ... M is for Metal

A Little Project: #100daysofbooks ... and Book #1 - The Very Cranky Bear

My son turns 100 days old today (3.29 months), and as we've read together over the last few weeks, I've been thinking a lot about books I loved as a kid. I remember childhood reading being equal parts discovery and comfort, even back to picture books. Some stories I've long forgotten, and others I remember vividly - John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat comes to mind. My father read me Black Beauty and made up original stories as well. I loved those times. It's an experience I want to pass on, but can be hard sometimes in the blistering pace of everything else going on. I adore the reading time and want to make a habit of it. So I've decided to embark on a little start-up project - for the next 100 days of his life, I'm going to read a different book each day to my son, and make a record here (I'll be tagging it #100daysofbooks). Sometimes (most times) we'll be reading more books, especially the ones he loves, but I'll just be putting the new one here. When those 100 days are up, we'll be into the time of the year when royalties (if there are some) turn up. I'm incredibly fortunate to make some income from my writing, and have ready access to books to be able to do this project at all. So when hopefully that cheque turns up, I plan on making a donation to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, who work to raise literacy levels and improve the lives of Indigenous children in remote and isolated areas. Check them out.

For each book I'll provide a little commentary and a photo. Maybe sometimes some thoughts that come from the reading. And if you love reading to your kids, too, I'd love to hear what book you're reading with them today in the comments. So, without further delay ...

Book #1 - The Very Cranky Bear

1_Inside_Cranky Bear

My verdict: Seems a fitting kick-off to this project, if you read Nick Bland's bio. This story combines sweet sentiment and pleasing rhyme. I loved it. I could read this one again and again. Lovely big pages and cute illustrations with a dreamy, fuzzy style. Could be a bedtime book, too.

Master A's verdict: Mum did the bear's voice a bit loud the first time (oops). Pays careful attention to the text being read, and to the pictures. Perfect length for attention span. :)


1_Cover_Cranky Bear

  • Title: The Very Cranky Bear
  • Author/Illustrator: Nick Bland
  • Source: Gift from friends
  • Publisher: Scholastic