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Bronwyn Bancroft,
An Australian 1 2 3 of Animals
Little Hare, 2007 (Board Book: 2009);

Bronwyn Bancroft,
An Australian ABC of Animals

Little Hare, 2004 (Board Book: 2009).

Ages 0-5

First published in 2004 and 2007 respectively, award-winning artist Bronwyn Bancroft’s Australian ABC and 123 books of animals have been republished this year as board books – perfect for small hands (and teeth!) to get into!

The illustrations follow Bancroft’s trademark – one could almost say iconic – form of traditional Australian Aboriginal representation rendered in bright, eye-catching colors.  This artistic style is particularly attractive here, where each animal image is set against a bright, monochrome background – as opposed to the patterned background of the striking cover images.

Between the pair of books, all the most well-known Australian fauna is included: and, indeed, a goodly number of lesser-known (at least outside Australia) species. Only frogs and turtles appear in both books. A kangaroo represents the letter K; then “3 koalas dozing” and “5 kookaburras laughing” mean that these two well-loved creatures also get a look in!  Tricky letters of the alphabet are covered by, for example, a quoll, a Ulysses butterfly and a very beautiful velvet worm . Meanwhile Y for yabby, an Australian freshwater crayfish, is cannily depicted here with an x-ray-like pattern up its body, so I suppose one can forgive the necessity to resort to the word X-ray for the letter X!


The numbers book, which goes from one to twelve, makes up for being half the length of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet by offering scope for a bit of interaction. Little ones will enjoy joining in with the actions of the animals “4 crocodiles snapping”, for example; and many will also be intrigued by the subtle differences in the patterns used to represent each species.


These beautiful books depict Australian animals in an imaginative way that will appeal to babies and small children the world over for generations to come. 

Marjorie Coughlan
October 2009

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