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Under the Southern Cross (Frané Lessac, Walker Books)

There have been many picture books about the sights of Australia but not many have touched upon its night-time attractions. Frané Lessac corrects this oversight in her gorgeously illustrated new picture book, which covers a variety of dark delights across the country. Whether it’s gazing at the penguins on Phillip Island, watching a movie outside on beanbags and deckchairs in Darwin, cheering your team on at the Melbourne Cricket Ground or admiring the lit-up sights from the Ferris wheel in Brisbane, Under the Southern Cross tracks a wide range of activities that families can enjoy when the sun retires to bed. The additional charm of this book is Lessac’s informative snippets of text on each page: for instance, that Sydney’s New Year’s Eve firework display is one of the most viewed spectacles on the planet, or that crocodiles have a layer of reflective crystals at the back of their eyes that glow when a torch shines on them in the dark. The inclusion of these facts makes the book more suitable for primary-aged readers, as it covers a lot of information, and the boldly painted, vibrant pictures will encourage kids to want to explore Australia in the dark.

Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer, and the books editor of the Big Issue


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