Choose a Kids Book from a Local Author or Illustrator

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Kids books are a popular choice for presents. This year, support local and buy a book from a local author or illustrator. The Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter region is full of talented individuals who have written or illustrated a wonderful selection of children’s books suitable for all ages.

Liz Anelli

Liz Anelli is an artist and illustrator who uses collage and printmaking as well as paint, pencils and her computer to create the vivid images that populate her picture books.

The Biscuit Maker

In Mavin Road, there’s no time for hellos or chats until a lonely and mysterious biscuit maker’s magic brings everyone together. Who is this mysterious biscuit maker? When Benedict falls ill, young Rory, the only person to know his secret, gathers the residents of Mavin Road and brings them to his door. A beautiful heart-warming book that celebrates community and human connection. Ages 3 – 7.

Maddie’s First Day

It is Maddie’s first day of school and she has everything ready – her uniform, shoes, socks and hat. But there is one special thing that Maddie can’t leave behind – her blanky! Award winners Penny Matthews and Liz Anelli team up to bring us this wonderful picture book about the excitement of going to “big” school for the first time. Ages 5+.

Grace & Katie

Grace and Katie are twins who love to draw. Grace loves everything to be organised and neat, while Katie loves everything to be bright, bold and messy. Suitable for kids 4+.

Desert Lake

The dry salt bed of Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre shimmers in the desert heat. But far up north, the rains have come. Water is flooding into empty riverbeds and swirling down towards the lake. Soon everything will change. Suitable for kids 5+.

Dry to Dry

This Nature Storybook follow-up to the award-winning Desert Lake is a stunningly illustrated and extraordinary story of the yearly weather cycle and attendant changing wildlife of Kakadu National Park, from the Dry to the Wet to the Dry again. Suitable for kids 5+.

Ten Pound Pom

In the 1950s and 60s Australia welcomed thousands of British immigrants as part of the Assisted Passage Migration Scheme. Ten Pound Pom is the true story of award-winning author Carole Wilkinson’s immigration to Australia. Suitable for kids 8+.

For more information, visit Liz Anelli’s website.

Sami Bayly

Sami Bayly is a natural history illustrator based in Newcastle, who loves all things weird and wonderful. She finds the beauty and importance of all animals regardless of their appearance, and hopes to share her appreciation with others.

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals

Marvel as you enter the fascinating hidden world of ugly animals in this encyclopaedia of the animal kingdom’s most unusual and beauty-challenged species. It’s time for ugly animals to shine! With more than sixty ugly animals to explore, this compendium of the unusual celebrates the beauty in ‘ugliness’. This book, Sami’s first, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals, won the Children’s Indie Book of the Year Award. Ages 7+.

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals

Dangerous animals get a bad rap, but this beautifully illustrated encyclopaedia helps us appreciate the incredible features of some of our more hair-raising animal species. With more than sixty of the most deadly and dangerous animals from across the world to explore, every page of this beautifully illustrated volume is more eye-opening than the last. Ages 7+.

For more information, visit Sami Bayly’s website.

Jess Black

Jess Black is an award winning author of over forty children’s books.  Jess has written the Tales of Mr Walker series about a dog who comes to live in the fanciest hotel in town. Jess has also written the Kitty is Not a Cat series, Little Paws series and the Keeper of the Crystals series; and is co-author of the hugely successful Bindi Wildlife Adventure series, the Kaboom Kid series and the Animal Tales series.

Kitty is Not a Cat


Kitty is Not a Cat is a warmly funny junior-fiction series about Kitty, a little girl who believes she can be anything she dreams – even a cat. When Kitty arrives on the doorstep of a house full of music-mad felines, their lives are turned upside down as they attempt to teach her how to be human.Based on the Australian TV series that is enjoyed by kids the whole world over.

Tales of Mr Walker

The Tales of Mr Walker contains four delightful stories inspired by the real-life Mr Walker, a Guide Dog Ambassador who now calls Park Hyatt Melbourne home. Suitable for kids 6+.

Keeper of the Crystals

Keeper of the Crystals is an adventure fantasy series full of secrets and mystery. Eve and Oscar, two unlikely friends, accidentally tap into the power of crystals. This chapter book series is suitable for kids 7+.

Little Paws Series

A fun, heartwarming series about the puppies that train to become Guide Dogs and the families who help raise them. Little Paws is published in association with Guide Dogs Australia. This chapter book series is suitable for kids 7+.

Bindi’s Wildlife Adventures

Come and join Bindi Irwin on her wildlife adventures! The books are fast paced adventures that travel to destinations such as Africa, Thailand, Madagascar and of course around Australia! Suitable for kids 7+.

Animal Tales

An adventure series based around helping animals big and small, fully endorsed by the RSPCA.

For more information, visit Jess Black’s website.

Meg Blackburn

The Spotty Socked Lops

This is a story of two baby lop bunnies, Bessie & Bean, who love an adventure. The Spotty Socked Lops follows these two little bouncing bundles of fun around Newcastle, hopping between the town’s top hot spots. Though on their journey, Bessie & Bean encounter setbacks along the way in which they learn to be resilient and tackle the challenge ahead… the challenge of the global pandemic.

For more information, visit the Spotty Socked Lops website

Jenny Blackford

Jenny Blackford is an award-winning Australian writer and poet. She writes poems and stories for people of all ages, often with a tinge of magic, science, or deep time. 

The Girl in the Mirror

Two girls who sleep in the same bedroom more than a hundred years apart discover that they can talk to one another through the mirror hanging on the wall. That’s lucky, because an evil spidery force is threatening 1890s girl Clarissa’s mother and thoroughly modern Maddie’s baby brother, and the only help they’re going to get is from one another – and the ghost of Clarissa’s dead brother Bertie.

For more information, visit Jenny Blackford’s website.

Nicola Bolton

Nicola Bolton is a local painter, children’s book author and illustrator. She is passionate about depicting rural and coastal Australian landscapes. Much of the inspiration for her artwork has been drawn from her experiences of the landscape at her childhood home, a rural property near Goulburn NSW.

You Can’t Catch Me

The sun is up, it’s a brand new day. Time to go outside and play …This delightful, rhythmic story is full of fun and energy. Two dogs spend their day chasing the Blackbird while she darts from tree to tree collecting mulberries to feed her babies three. Will they catch her?

You Can’t Find Me

The sun is up its a brand new day. Time to go outside and play… again! The dogs are back! This time they spend their day playing hide and seek with their new friends, the ten little frogs. This delightful, rhythmic story is full of counting, colours and fun. Will the dogs find the ten little frogs?

For more information, visit Nicola Bolton’s website.

Sharon Boyce

Once upon a time, there was a young girl who would sit at her father’s knee and listen as he read a bedtime story. As she got older, he began reading chapter books to her and her siblings and they would beg for “just one more chapter.” Once a book was finished, she would read them over and over again herself. Now that girl is a grown-up and writes bedtime stories for other kids. She hopes they are the sorts of stories that kids want to read over and over.

There’s a Shark in the Loo

Shark in the Loo is a laugh out loud story about a cheeky Shark who shows up unexpectedly in the bathroom on birthday party day. Mum, Dad and the party girl herself try all sorts of crazy ways to clear the house before the party guests arrive, and of course all their attempts are unsuccessful.

Who is at the Zoo?

Who is at the Zoo is a book that is full of surprises. When a girl wakes up to discover that zoo animals have taken over her bathroom and kitchen, it leads her on a journey of surprising discoveries. Not only are there animals in her house, they are all through the town and there’s no grown-ups anywhere. If these animals are in her town, then who is at the zoo? This amusing tale will encourage children to seek answers for their questions.

For more information, visit Sharon Boyce’s website.

Jenni Goodman

Jenni is a local freelance illustrator. Her artworks are created with either a mix of watercolours and coloured pencils, or graphite pencils.  She aims to capture simple beauty and timeless characters as she focuses her art on nature, people and animals. Most of Jenni’s illustrating hours are spent creating picture books – a dream come true! She also creates pet portraits, medical illustrations and other commissioned artworks. ​

Have You Seen a Tree For Me?

Have You Seen a Tree For Me

Enzo the koala had grown into a big strong boy and he thought it was time to find a tree of his own. Like all koalas living in the wild, Enzo has to deal with lots of challenges in his search for a new home. Join Enzo on his journey to find ‘a tree for me’.  Enzo features on an actual koala that lives at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast of Queensland, Australia. He is loved by visitors and staff and is featured in the sanctuary’s Koala Experience.

A Boy and A Dog

A chance meeting, a forever friendship, between A Boy and A Dog. Written in a poetic lyrical style, this is a classic story of a lonely boy and a lonely dog who find each other and discover true friendship. A touching insight into the special bond between children and animals. Suitable for kids 3 – 8.

Storm Boy

Storm Boy Jenni Goodman

Storm Boy is the timeless story of Mike “Storm Boy” Kingley who rescues three pelican chicks after their mother is shot. One of the birds, Mr Percival, forms a very special bond with the boy which brings into focus the conflict between his lifestyle in the remote Coorong of South Australia and the external pressures of society including his schooling. The Storm Boy Illustrated story in a limited edition hardback with a jacket, telling the original story of storm boy with illustrations by Jenni Goodman.

For more information, visit Jenni Goodman’s website.

Karen Hughes

Kalika Magic Series

Looking for a mystical adventure series that both you and your children can enjoy? Check out the Kalika Magic books. This series written by Karen Hughes is a wonderful addition to children’s fantasy fiction. The Kalika Magic books are atmospheric and filled with spells, magic and ancient lore. This chapter book series is best suited to readers aged 8+.

For more information, visit the Kalika Magic website.

Deborah Kelly

Deborah has written a selection of children’s books including The Bouncing Ball, Jam for Nana, The Chalk Rainbow, Dinosaur Disco, Dugong Magic and Ruby Wishfingers chapter book series.

The Thing About Oliver

Twelve-year-old Tilly dreams of becoming a marine scientist, but she doesn’t even own a swimsuit. She lives in a drought- stricken town with her mum and younger brother Oliver, who is autistic. Oliver’s meltdowns are making life unbearable. He needs so many different kinds of therapy that there’s never any time—or money—left over for swimming lessons. Tilly knows Oliver’s needs have to come first, but it’s hard feeling invisible all the time. When Mum announces they are moving to the Queensland coast, Tilly is excited at the thought of finally learning to swim— even snorkel! But she is also worried. The thing about Oliver is, he can’t cope with even the tiniest of changes to his routine. This book was shortlisted for CBCA Book of the Year for Younger Readers.

Dugong Magic

A beautifully illustrated, lyrical and informative story about dugongs, one of our most unique endangered animals. Ideal for anyone with an interest in marine life and the environment, and an excellent teaching resource.

Dinosaur Disco

Stomp your feet at the Dinosaur Disco! Everyone is dancing at the disco. But then …The music stops. The ground shakes. Is the intruder looking for a dance …or his dinner? Twist your hips, not your tongue!

The Chalk Rainbow

The Chalk Rainbow explores difference and diversity through a family living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It’s also a story of unconditional love, of trust and of learning to look at the world through the eyes of others. Illustrated by local illustrator Gwynneth Jones.

Me and You

A delightful rhyming picture book that celebrates all the special relationships and fun-filled activities in a child’s life. Their special bonds with parents, grandparents, cousins, neighbours and pets, as well as all the wonderful fun-filled days they enjoy together: from beach and baking days, to cycling and footy-kicking or simply lazy days. Suitable for kids 0 – 5.  Me and You recently won Speech Pathology Australia’s Book of the Year for kids 3 – 5.

Ruby Wishfingers Series

Ruby Wishfingers is an ordinary girl … except for her extraordinary name. One day she wakes with a strange feeling in the tips of her fingers and discovers she has inherited a marvellous gift: the power to wish for whatever she wants. Chapter book series suitable for kids 6+.

For more information, visit Deborah Kelly’s website.

Lynn Jenkins & Kirrili Lonergan

Lynn and Kirrili have written and illustrated a fantastic series of picture books to help kids. Written specifically by a clinical psychologist Lynn Jenkins, and illustrated by illustrator/art therapist Kirrili Lonergan, Lessons of a LAC provides children a very simple way to understand their anxious thoughts and feelings. Their books focus on kids anxiety, finding courage and developing mindfulness.

Lessons of a Lac

Loppy the Lac has learned its whole life to look out for danger. Looking out for what can go wrong is all it knows – until Loppy meets Curly Calmster. Curly teaches Loppy that it doesn’t have to look out for the everyday worst-case scenarios all the time.


Have you ever needed to do something that made you nervous; even thinking about doing? Kids do all the time. Going to bed, weathering through storms, going to school, speaking in class, making a new friend and so on.Children are expected to just get on with it! What they need is to find their BRAVE! Something that is inside of them but they just can’t find. The much-loved characters of Loppy and Curly teach kids how to find their BRAVE.

Perfect Petunias

Perfect Petunias

The ‘perfect’ book for kids who find it hard to make mistakes! Sometimes ‘perfect’ just means trying your best. Perfect Petunias is a book especially for those little people who find it hard to make mistakes, designed to ‘shape’ perfectionistic tendencies towards being a little more self-accepting and flexible.

Grey Glasses-itis

Grey glasses-itis kids book

When Loppy takes off his grey glasses, life doesn’t look so sad! A simple way to teach kids how thoughts influence mood. The fourth book in the popular ‘Lessons of a LAC’ series, Grey-glasses-itis helps children to understand the link between how they see things and how they feel. 


Tree Book Lessons of a Lac

A gentle story of loss to help children learn how to say goodbye, process grief and commemorate a loved one’s life. The fifth book in the popular ‘Lessons of a LAC’ series, Tree is a gentle story of loss that helps children to learn how to say goodbye and process grief. 

Ollie’s Treasure

Ollie’s Treasure is tale of mindfulness for young, developing minds. Ollie’s grandma sends him a treasure map that promises to lead him to ‘something that will make him happy always’.

For more information, visit the Lessons of a Lac website.

Gwynneth Jones

Gwynneth’s colourful illustrations fill the pages of many great picture books including Dance With Me, Don’t Think About Purple Elephants, Patch and Ruby, The Chalk Rainbow and The Great Sock Secret.

Dance With Me

Dance with Me is a gorgeous picture book about treasured possessions and the memories they hold.

Don’t Think About Purple Elephants

Sometimes Sophie worries – not during the day when she is busy with family and friends, but at night when everything is calm and quiet. Her family all try to help, but somehow they just make her worries worse. Until her mother thinks of a new approach … that might just involve an elephant or two! Don’t Think About Purple Elephants is an excellent resource for social and emotional learning for parents and teachers.

The Great Sock Secret

Sarah’s mother is tired of finding odd socks in the laundry basket. Where do all the missing socks go? Sarah’s mother is pretty sure the puppy is responsible but Sarah knows better. And her mother simply mustn’t find out the truth! The Great Sock Secret is a wonderfully fun adventure into an imaginative world that’s home to some very cool fairies.

For more information, visit Gwynneth Jones’ website.

Katrina McKelvey

Katrina McKelvey is a children’s author, former primary school teacher, wife, and mother to two tweenagers and a cocker spaniel. She’s written many children’s picture books and educational readers. She’s highly involved in CBCA, SCBWI, literary conferences and festivals, and loves visiting schools.

Chasing Rainbows

Chasing Rainbows

A summer shower brings the delight of a rainbow. Is there truly magic at the end that Dad believes there is? Join Xavier and Sophie as they frolic in their backyard, creating rainbows and chaos with imaginative and experimental water play.

Isla’s Family Tree

Isla isn’t happy her family is expanding, but her mother and a clever family tree teach her to accept the changes. Isla isn’t happy that her family is changing, so her mother creates a clever family tree with Isla to teach her how to accept that families always grow. Isla’s Family Tree is the perfect book for any family needing to find a way to introduce new family members, or to show children how they belong in their own family. The book explores important issues surrounding familial change and acceptance, while also providing a glimpse into a diverse family.

Up to Something

A beautiful exploration of the father-son relationship and the satisfaction to be gained from making things ourselves. One day, Dad invites Billy into his shed to build something, but Billy soon finds out that he is only allowed to watch. As Dad becomes engrossed in his project, Billy takes Dad’s off-cuts and other items from around the yard and shed and starts to copy what his Dad is building.

No Baths Week

Ben and his best friend, Bandit have decided it’s ‘NO BATHS’ week. Mum plays along but challenges them to find other ways to get clean.  Will Ben and Bandit come up with a clever plan? And will they rediscover their love of having a bath?  This humorous story is bursting with mess, noise, and adventure. A perfect balance of fun and chaos for anyone involved in this often loved, but sometimes dreaded, daily bath routine.


This heart-warming picture book illustrated by Kirrili Lonergan explores the bond between a father and his daughter. One day, a little girl notices her father mowing the lawn — in the process destroying her favourite flowers: the dandelions. She rushes out to stop him, but she’s too late, they’re all gone. There’s nothing for it: she’s just going to have to sit outside and wait until they grow back! But fortunately, Dad has another idea. Suitable for kids aged 4 – 8.

For more information, visit Katrina McKelvey’s website.

Susanne Merritt

Susanne is the author of Don’t Think About Purple Elephants, Grace and Katie and The Great Sock Secret.

Don’t Think About Purple Elephants

Sometimes Sophie worries – not during the day when she is busy with family and friends, but at night when everything is calm and quiet. Her family all try to help, but somehow they just make her worries worse. Until her mother thinks of a new approach … that might just involve an elephant or two! Don’t Think About Purple Elephants is an excellent resource for social and emotional learning for parents and teachers.

Grace and Katie

Grace and Katie are twins who love to draw. Grace loves everything to be organised and neat, while Katie loves everything to be bright, bold and messy. An imaginative exploration of individuality, sisterhood, creativity and appreciating each other’s strengths.

 The Great Sock Secret

Sarah’s mother is tired of finding odd socks in the laundry basket. Where do all the missing socks go? Sarah’s mother is pretty sure the puppy is responsible but Sarah knows better. And her mother simply mustn’t find out the truth! The Great Sock Secret is a wonderfully fun adventure into an imaginative world that’s home to some very cool fairies.

Renee Price

Create It Kids was established in March 2013 by Renee Price, initially as an online community for parents and educators to share children’s activity ideas. Since its inception, it has evolved into a popular brand, now showcasing picture books, music and live performances. Renee has created the unforgettable and curious character of Digby.

Digby’s Moon Mission

One night, Digby Fixit wakes to find his room in too much darkness! Discovering the moon in a frightful state, he plans a clever mission to bring back the light of night. Digby’s Moon Mission is a tale of curiosity, commitment and celebration. The engaging story portrays the importance of friendship, working together and embracing imagination.

Digby and the Yodelayhee… Who?

Digby Fixit is perplexed. What or who is making that super-duper sound? Join Digby and his very bestest friends, as they help solve the mystery of the noisy noise, with some toe-tapping fun along the way. Digby and the Yodelayhee… Who? celebrates imagination, friendship, curiosity, and the joy of music and performance. It is complemented with an original song, titled Digby’s Jam; available for free download via a featured QR code.

For more information, visit Create It Kids website.

Leila Rudge

An author and illustrator, Leila brings to life unique characters.


This is the story of Gary, a grounded racing pigeon, and his big adventure. It is a story of perseverance and being comfortable in your own skin, perfect for anyone who has ever felt like the odd one out.

Ted is a smart dog, with his own jumper. But he has lived at the pet store for as long as he can remember and nobody seems to notice him. Will Ted ever find the perfect place to live?

For more information, visit Leila Rudge’s website.

Paul Russell

Paul Russell has always been passionate about stories, even before he could read. Determined never to grow up and lose his imagination, he is a teacher, playwright, father, artist and author but maybe not always in that order. He is passionate about children’s literacy and in building an appetite within children for the written word

The Incurable Imagination

Audrey has the worst case of ‘imaginitis’ her teachers have ever seen! While other children paint their families, Audrey paints the ogre who lives under her bed drinking tea. Instead of singing about a black sheep, she writes her own song about a desk with legs that runs away. Her alphabet turns into soup. It’s clear that her ‘imaginitis’ is incurable.  What’s worse, her condition is contagious and soon the other kids in her class start showing symptoms of an equally incurable imagination! Ages 5+.

My Storee

My Storee Paul Russell

An inspiring picture book that provides hope and encouragement to dyslexic kids, and shows the power of good teachers. A young boy has a mind full of wonderful stories but when he writes them down, day after day, they come back covered in red pen after his teachers have corrected his spelling. It seems his dyslexia will always hold him back from sharing his creativity the way he longs to. Then a new teacher arrives at the school. Mr Watson tells magical stories and draws wonderful pictures. He makes his students feel safe. He inspires them to be themselves. Ages 6+.

Grandma Forgets

Paul is the author of Grandma Forgets. It’s a heartwarming story of a family bound by love as they cope with their grandma’s dementia. This is a warm, hopeful story about a family who sometimes needs to remind their grandmother a little more often than they used to about how much they care. Ages 5+.

Emily S. Smith

Garbage Guts

In the North Pacific Ocean lives a monster made of trash — a hungry, greedy meanie with a handlebar moustache. And though his name is Garbage Guts, he’s often called Big G. He blobs about destroying all the oceans and the seas. Garbage Guts is determined to have the ocean all for himself, and will do just about anything to get his way. How on Earth will this beast be stopped? This action-packed story explores the impact of our waste on the environment, and ways we can help save our planet. Ages 3 – 9.

For more information, visit Emily S. Smith’s website.

Lillian Webb

Alfie Happy to be Himself

Lillian is the author and illustrator of Alfie Happy to be Himself“, a book with a strong message about self-esteem and the environment for kids aged 4 to 8.

Turkish Charlie Ryan: Canakkale’s Anzac Hero

Turkish Charlie Ryan

Turkish Charlie Ryan: Canakkale’s Anzac Hero written by John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher and illustrated by local illustrator Lillian Webb is a book worth getting. The story of Charlie Ryan was discovered through interactions between students at Thornton Public School and students at the Turkish school TED Mersin College. The Turkish students asked the Australian students if they knew about Charlie Ryan, an Australian medic from country Victoria. This inspired local authors and historians John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher to research the remarkable story of Charlie Ryan. RRP $28. Ages 9+

For more information, visit Lillian Webb’s website.

Hopefully, this list of books will inspire you to choose a kids book from one of the many talented authors and illustrators that call the Newcastle and Hunter region home. #SupportLocal

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