Baby wombats, underpants and Ancient Greece

Cover imageJackie French is one of Australia’s most prolific children’s authors.  She puts out at least 2 books a year for a range of different age groups, from picture books to young adult novels, and she writes on all sorts of topics.  Historical novels for children are her speciality and she always includes some of her research at the end of her novels so that you can see where her ideas have come from.  She has written 3 brilliant books lately – Baby Wombat’s Week, Queen Victoria’s Underpants, and Oracle.

Baby Wombat’s Week is the hilarious follow-up to Diary of a Wombat, illustrated by long-time collaborator and one of Australia’s best illustrators, Bruce Whatley.  Baby Wombat’s Week follows a week in the life of a baby wombat who (much like his mother) likes to sleep, eat, and generally create havoc.  He destroys the garden, tunnels into the house and makes friends with a human baby.  Parents will sympathise with the mother wombat and kids will love the cute baby wombat and his silly antics.

Queen Victoria’s Underpants is Jackie’s latest picture book collaboration with Bruce Whatley.  This charming and witty tale is the story of how the very first pair of royal underpants were made for Queen Victoria.  During Queen Victoria’s reign, few women wore underpants, but the Queen requests some to be made for her.  But what sort of underpants would she want? Silk or linen, lace or frills, long, short or knee-length?  The story is witty and the illustrations are stunning.  I particularly like the expressions of the characters that Bruce Whatley always does so well.

Oracle is Jackie French’s latest novel and once again, it’s a historical novel, but set in a very different time and place from her earlier novels – Ancient Greece.  Nikko and his sister Thetis live in a small village in the mountains, but one day they are taken from their hard life into a world of luxury.  They are trained as acrobats to perform for the King of Mycenae and soon forget their old life.  But Nikko’s sister is both cursed and blessed – if she speaks she must tell the truth.  When Thetis tells the King a truth about his future, their world comes crashing down around them.  Jackie’s historical detail is amazing and her descriptions of life in Ancient Greece (the sights and smells) were so clear in my mind.

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