COMPLETED Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019 (AWW2019)

I can proudly say that I finally completed my Australian Women Writers Challenge for 2019. I’ve set this challenge at the same level for the last year or two and missed out, but I just scraped in with the reviews this year. I’m actually shocked at some of the books I haven’t reviewed yet on this list (rest assured I’ve been busy scheduling more of these for January 2020 … I just can’t fit them in this year!)

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2019

Read: 71/60


  1. A Particular Cow by Mem Fox and illustrated by Terry Denton
  2. First Day At School by Rosie Smith and illustrated by Bruce Whatley – REVIEWED
  3. Kookaburra Kookaburra by Bridget Farmer
  4. Mamie by Tania McCartney – REVIEWED
  5. Hello, Australia by Megan McKean
  6. Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales
  7. On Edge (Rough Edge Series, Book One) by Kim Congram
  8. Amazing Australian Women: Twelve Amazing Women Who Changed History by Pamela Freeman and Illustrated by Sophie Beer – REVIEWED
  9. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – REVIEWED
  10. Repeat by Kylie Scott – REVIEWED
  11. Mallee Sky by Jodi Toering and illustrated by Tannya Harricles – REVIEWED
  12. Fence Vol 1 (Fence 1-4) by C.S Pacat, illustrated by Johanna the Mad, Coloured by Joana LaFuente and Lettered by Jim Campbell
  13. Fence Vol 2 (Fence 5-8) C.S Pacat, illustrated by Johanna the Mad, Coloured by Joana LaFuente and Lettered by Jim Campbell
  14. Fence Issue 9 C.S Pacat, illustrated by Johanna the Mad, Coloured by Joana LaFuente and Lettered by Jim Campbell
  15. Fence Issue 10 C.S Pacat, illustrated by Johanna the Mad, Coloured by Joana LaFuente and Lettered by Jim Campbell
  16. Fence Issue 11 C.S Pacat, illustrated by Johanna the Mad, Coloured by Joana LaFuente and Lettered by Jim Campbell
  17. Fence Issue 12 C.S Pacat, illustrated by Johanna the Mad, Coloured by Joana LaFuente and Lettered by Jim Campbell
  18. The House On The Mountain by Ella Holcombe & David Cox – REVIEWED
  19. Penelope’s Playground by Roxy Jacenko with Pixie Curtis and Illustrated by Heather Hawkins – REVIEWED
  20. Rough Code (Rough Edge Series, Book Two) by Kim Congram
  21. Love’s Fun (Time For Love series, Book 4) by Karen Deen – REVIEWED
  22. Tales From the Bush by May Gibbs
  23. Sleep Tight, Platypup by Renee Treml – REVIEWED
  24. Lottie and Walter by Anna Walker – REVIEWED
  25. The French Photographer by Natasha Lester – REVIEWED 
  26. The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Games by Nette Hilton – REVIEWED
  27. The Smallest Bilby and the Easter Tale by Nette Hilton – REVIEWED
  28. The French Photographer by Natasha Lester – (REREAD Already reviewed this year)
  29. The Accusation by Wendy James
  30. Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer
  31. Meerkat Splash by Aura Parker – REVIEWED
  32.  The Jacket by Sue-Ellen Pashley and Illustrated by Thea Baker – REVIEWED
  33. Women to the Front:  Australian Women Doctors of the First World War by Heather Sheard and Ruth Lee
  34. Australian Editing Handbook by Elizabeth Flann, Beryl Hill and Lan Wang
  35. Cambridge guide to Australian English Usage by Pam Peters
  36. Love Your Body by Jessica Saunders
  37. Sorry Day by Coral Vass and illustrated by Dub Leffler – REVIEWED
  38. The One by Kaneane May
  39.  Waves by Donna Rawlins and Illustrated by Heather Potter and Mark Jackson – REVIEWED 
  40. Noni The Pony Rescues A Joey by Alison Lester – REVIEWED
  41. How NOT to Annoy Dad by Dave Hughes & Holly Ife and illustrated by Heath McKenzie – REVIEWED
  42. The Great $20 Adventure by Effie Zahos and illustrated by IIona Tar – REVIEWED
  43. Tricky’s Bad Day by Alison Lester – REVIEWED
  44. The Feather by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Freya Blackwood – REVIEWED
  45. Chalk Boy by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Mandy Ord – REVIEWED
  46. Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood – REVIEWED
  47. The Greatest Father’s Day of All by Anne Managan and illustrated by Tamsin Ainslie – REVIEWED
  48. Fearless with Dad by Cori Brooke and illustrated by Giuseppe Poli – REVIEWED
  49. The Dry by Jane Harper – REVIEWED
  50. Alice-Miranda at School by Jacqueline Harvey
  51. Red House Blue House Green House Tree House by Jane Godwin and illustrated by Jane Resiger – REVIEWED
  52. Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein
  53. Our Birds Nilmurrunga Wayin Malanynha by Siena Stubbs – REVIEWED
  54. Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Salleh and illustrated by Samantha Fry – REVIEWED
  55. My Polar Dream by Jade Hamesiter
  56. Naughty Or Nice by Lauren K McKellar – REVIEWED
  57. His Brand of Beautiful by Lily Malone – REVIEWED
  58. Rocking Horse Hill by Cathryn Hein – REVIEWED
  59. A House of Her Own by Jenny Hughes
  60. That Christmas Feeling by Lili Wilkinson – REVIEWED
  61. There Is Something Weird in Santa’s Beard by Chrissie Krebs – REVIEWED
  62. The Naughtiest Reindeer Goes South by Nicki Greenberg – REVIEWED
  63. Tea & Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Illustrated by Robert Ingpen – REVIEWED
  64. Cross My Heart by Pamela Cook
  65. The Lost Man by Jane Harper
  66. Gorgeous Gyno by Karen Dean
  67. The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein
  68. The Tea Gardens by Fiona McIntosh
  69. The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
  70. The Painted Ponies by Alison Lester – REVIEWED
  71. Welcome To Country by Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy – REVIEWED



BLOGMAS DAY 29 REVIEW: Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy & Lisa Kennedy

Published: 1st April 2016

Publisher: Black Dog (Walker Books)

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book

RRP: $26.99

5/5 Stars 

Welcome to the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People. We are part of this land and the land is part of us. This is where we come from. Wominjeka Wurundjeri balluk yearmenn koondee bik. Welcome to Country.

Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy and Lisa Kennedy is an exceptionally well written and presented picture book celebrating the indigenous culture. It’s a book that I adored, but am ashamed to admit that I had not heard of until recently.

Welcome to Country is a non-fiction picture book detailing the Wurundjeri People and their welcome to country address.  It’s written in both Woiwurrung Ngulu (the language of the Wurundjeri people) and English. Continue reading

BLOGMAS DAY 28 REVIEW: Painted Ponies by Alison Lester

Published: 5th November 2019

Publisher: Allen & Unwin Australia

Pages: 32

Format: hardback  picture book (hired from the library)

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars 

A little girl whose family runs a travelling show falls in love with some wild ponies…but what will she do when she realises they long to be set free?

Matilda loves staying at Grandma Lucky’s, riding Luna in the front paddock and playing with the painted ponies in their carved wooden wagon.

The gold palomino, the chestnut, the bay,
the pinto, the brown and the dappley grey.

One day, Lucky tells Matilda about when she was a little girl and the real ponies were her friends…

A big, beautiful story about friendship and freedom, from Australia’s favourite picture book creator, Alison Lester.

Alison Lester has a number of horse themed picture books under her belt, but its The Painted Ponies that stands out as the book you won’t forget. Continue reading

BLOGMAS Day 22 REVIEW: That Christmas Feeling by Lili Wilkinson and illustrated by Amanda Francey

Published:  27th September 2017

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture book (borrowed from the library)


4/5 Stars

Dottie is waiting for the Christmas feeling to arrive—that fizzy, excited feeling, where everything is a bit magical. But this year, Dottie, her brother, Jem, and their dog, Shortbread, are staying with Grandma and Grandpa. Grandma and Grandpa are trying hard, but Christmas just isn’t the same . . . A gorgeous, heart-warming story about misplacing the Christmas spirit, and finding it again.

I’m totally feeling Dottie this year and am missing that Christmas feeling myself.

Dottie and Jem are staying with their Grandparents. Which under normal circumstances would be a happy affair, but it’s Christmas and their Grandparents just aren’t doing Christmas right!

That Christmas Feeling contrasts Dottie and Jem’s previous Christmas experiences with their parents versus the lead up with their Grandparents both visually and verbally. As the days leading up to Christmas race by in a blur, Dottie grows increasingly anxious that none of their usual Christmas traditions are being upheld. It’s the lack of these usual activities (baking, decorating etc) that she feels is to blame for the lack of Christmas spirit and feeling.

In a clever twist, That Christmas Feeling is a book that is simultaneously very festive (speaks about Christmas traditions, presents, a dog named Shortbread and a character named Holly) and yet lacks a distinct festive feeling as Dottie struggles to find hers. This is achieved through the clever use of contrast in colour – flashbacks to previous Christmases are bright and clearer, whereas the current one is muted in colour and lacks that sense of Christmas magic – and tone – Dottie is detailing the many ways this Christmas is not like previous ones and why it feels so wrong!

That Christmas Feeling is a narrative about so much more than just the led up to Christmas. It’s about the bond between siblings, trust, faith, home, and family. I was really moved by the interactions between Dottie and Jem, and the way he constantly reassured her and took her outside to see a unique twist on the missing Christmas elements (eg trees and lights being the stars in the sky).

But perhaps the most unique aspect of this picture book is the narrative twist at the end. I’m not going to spoil it here, but I was so overjoyed at seeing such an unexpected twist and plot device used so effectively in a picture book.  It’s not the kind of twist I’m used to seeing that’s for sure.

To purchase a copy of That Christmas Feeling, visit the following online retailers:

Allen & Unwin | Amazon AUS | Amazon US | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD |

To learn more about Lili Wilkinson, visit the following social media pages:

Lili Wilkinson’s Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube

To learn more about Amanda Francey, visit the following social media pages:

Amanda Francey’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Youtube | Pinterest |

BLOGMAS Day 21 REVIEW: Tea & Sugar by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen

Published: 1st November 2014

Publisher: National Library of Australia

Pages: 36

Format: Hardback Picture Book (Borrowed from the library)

RRP: $24.99

5/5 Stars

Age range 5+

The Tea and Sugar train only came once a week on a Thursday. But the special Christmas train only came once a year.
Today was Sunday.
Four more days without sugar.
Four more days until the Christmas train. Please, please be on time. Please don’t be late.

Join Kathleen in the outback as she eagerly awaits the Christmas Tea and Sugar train. Will she meet Father Christmas? Will she receive a Christmas gift from him? A delightful, heart-warming story from the National Library of Australia that will intrigue, captivate and introduce readers to a slice of the past. Wonderful sensitive illustrations, including a beautiful double fold-out image showing the shops inside all the carriages.

For 81 years, from 1915 to 1996, the Tea and Sugar Train travelled from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie once a week. It serviced the settlements along the Nullarbor Plain, a 1050-long rail link. It was a lifeline. There were no shops or services in these settlements. The train carried everything they needed—household goods, groceries, fruit and vegetables, a butcher’s van, banking facilities and at one time even a theatrette car for showing films. The biggest excitement for the children was the first Thursday of December every year, when Father Christmas travelled the line. He distributed gifts to all the children on the way, including those of railway workers, those in isolated communities, and station kids.

WINNER ABIA Small Publisher Children’s Book of the Year
WINNER MAPDA Children’s Book Design Award
SHORTLISTED CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books

Tea and Sugar Christmas by Jane Jolly and Robert Ingpen is perhaps one of my favourite Christmas book discoveries this year, and indeed of all time.

Tea and Sugar Christmas is a unique festive book. Unlike most books on the market, this narrative doesn’t focus on Santa Claus, but rather a specifical aspect of Australian history, the old Tea and Sugar train. This makes this book both historical and creative non-fiction. Continue reading

BLOGMAS Day 14 REVIEW: There Is Something Weird in Santa’s Beard by Chrissie Krebs

Published: 31st October 2016

Publisher: Penguin Random House Children

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback Picture Book

RRP: $19.99

3/5 Stars

Look out – it’s the blob that ate Christmas!

Lovely Santa. He brings joy and gifts to children around the world. Secretly, he’s also a bit of a slob. He loves snacking on the treats children leave for him on Christmas Eve, but he isn’t quite as interested in washing his face and combing his beard. This year, the result isn’t just gross – it grows into something so monstrous that it destroys all the toys in Santa’s workshop.

Will it become the blob that ate Christmas? Or will the reindeer’s secret talent save the day?

There is Something Weird in Santa’s Beard by Chrissie Krebs is a laugh a minute festive picture book.

Told through the use of rhyme and bright and loud illustrations, Krebs has carefully crafted a hilarious festive story that has gone where no festive picture book before has.

We all know Santa as the big fat man in the red suit that brings all the good boys and girls presents, but what we don’t realise is that Santa is a GRUB!

Why Santa, what a grub you are!

You’ve got a grotty face.

Take a bath and brush your teeth,

You look like a disgrace!

After a night of hard drinking and eating his way around the world, Santa collapses into his bed and forgets to clean the food and drink out of his pristine beard. When a monster grows and grows from this mess, Santa, Mrs Claus and everyone at the North Pole suddenly finds themselves in an unexpected predicament.

There is Something Weird in Santa’s Beard is certainly a one-of-a-kind Christmas book. Although simplistic in tone, look and feel, the overall feel of the book is festive, happy and walks the line of being hilariously funny, while not over preaching the hygiene message. I think my favourite aspect of this book was the Kung Fu Reindeer. They were such an unexpected surprise.

To purchase a copy of There is Something Weird in Santa’s Beard, visit the following online retailers:

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE AUSTRALIA | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD


To learn more about Chrissie Krebs, visit the following social media sites:

Chrissie Krebs’ website | Instagram | Facebook



REVIEW: The Naughtiest Reindeer Goes South by Nicki Greenberg

Published: 28th September 2016

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Pages: 32

Format: Hardcover Picture book (borrowed from the Library)

RRP: $19.99

4/5 Stars

“I’m zippy! I’m snappy! I’m raring to go-” “You’re NAUGHTY,” said Rudolf, “the answer is NO.”

If only Mrs Claus had listened! Letting Ruby lead the sleigh is a recipe for disaster. Ruby’s wild ride lands her in a world of trouble, and very far from home. Poor Ruby is stranded, the presents are scattered… and the local penguins are very, very grumpy. How can the naughtiest reindeer avert a Christmas disaster this time?

Another hilarious adventure featuring everyone’s favourite irrepressible reindeer.’

The first thing that drew me to this particular book was the cover. It’s bright, colourful and so inviting that I simply had to stop and borrow it from the library to feature in the 2019’s Christmas picture books.

One Christmas, Ruby, Rudolph’s younger sister wants to lead Santa’s Sleigh. After getting into a physical fight with her brother, she is reluctantly invited along on the condition that she behaves, for Ruby is the naughtiest reindeer the North Pole has ever seen. Together the Reindeer and Santa set out on a long night of deliveries only for everything to go drastically wrong when Ruby sends the sleigh into a capsize dive. With presents, and Ruby herself lost and stranded in the South Pole, how will Santa manage to deliver presents to children all over the world in time?

There is no doubt in mind that Australian author and illustrator Nicki Greenberg has one of the most imaginative and creative minds there is. She has taken the traditional night before Christmas story (and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) and turned it on its head with the addition of Ruby the Reindeer and her hairbrained schemes.

The Naughtiest Reindeer is quirky and a whole lot of fun. While the text will soothe little ones worry about what happens if Santa has an accident or if a Reindeer takes a wrong turn, the images will keep them occupied until the very last page. Greenberg’s story is also uniquely educational as she seeks to inform young children about the differences between the North and South Pole and the various animals you would encounter at both.

All in all, The Naughtiest Reindeer is sure to be a fan-favourite come Christmas time. With bright and imaginative full-page illustrations, and a catchy rhyme,  readers of all ages will be quickly drawn into the world Nicki Greenberg has presented.

To purchase a copy of The Naughtiest Reindeer Goes South, visit the following online retailers:

Allen & Unwin | Amazon US | Angus & Robertson | Barnes & NobleBooktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | QBD

To learn more about Nicki Greenberg, visit the following social media pages:

Nicki Greenberg’s website | Instagram