As a teacher librarian I tried to read as many of the books as I can that I purchase for my library. Obviously I don't get through them all, ('too many books, not enough time' is my catch cry!) but I do read all the picture books that come in. I think you'll guess by that confession, they are my favourite format. But there was one that had been ordered before I came to this library which I only just discovered today and it is Croc and Bird by Alexis Deacon.
I am also a writer and write (among other things) about inclusion, acceptance and tolerance. THIS is the book that I wish I had written! From the gentle, poignant text, to the simple but evocative illustrations, this book encapsulates the very essence of acceptance. If you don't have this already in your libraries or at home, you really should get a copy.
Two eggs hatch side by side. One is Croc. One is Bird. They do everything together until, one day, when they are grown, the river carries them away from the home they have made together. They find a lake full of crocodiles and birds and, after taking another look at each other, decide they should join the group with the animals that look like them. But some of the habits they've learned when they were together, don't quite fit with the rest of their kind. Eventually, after not being able to sleep in their new homes, they seek each other out and realise it doesn't matter about what they look like or how they behave. What matters most is how much they have missed each other and feel happiest when they are together.
These are two of the most beautifully written and exquisitely illustrated books about anti-bullying that have been published. They are not new - Dandelion was published in 2013 and Daisy Chain in 2015 - and you cannot buy them from a bookstore but need to order them through the company that the writer and illustrator are involved with which is Sydney company Protein One - but the effort is definitely worth it.
Bullying in whatever form - physical, emotional, cyber - is not okay. People experiencing bullying often feel they are alone, shouldn't/can't tell anyone and basically have no way of fighting back. There are many organisations out there now providing support but literature is also important. Both of these books with their simple text and soft illustrative palettes, are a gentle way of opening up a conversation about bullying for young and old alike. The emphasis on using creative ways to combat bullying and the focus on certain flowers as the child's support and strength is very clever. Although it seems like a flower that is easily blown away, the meaning of dandelion is 'lion's tooth' indicating an inner bravery. Similarly, daisies may seem weak, but together in a chain, they become strong and unbreakable. Thank you Galvin Scott Davis and Anthony Ishinjerro for these important and stunning picture books.
I LOVE our Aussie picture book authors and illustrators. If you're looking to supplement your collection at home or an international school library wanting to diversify both your author base and your collection, try some of the ones below. It is by no means an exhaustive list (there are SO many more!) but it is a great start. My favourites are those by Freya Blackwood, Matt Ottley, Bronwyn Bancroft and Glenda Millard. More wonderful diverse Australian books coming soon.