Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

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Backyard Birds (Helen Milroy, Fremantle Press)

Helen Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Born in Perth, she has always had a passionate interest in health and wellbeing, especially for children. In fact, she studied medicine at the University of Western Australia and is currently a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry there. So from this background comes a book that is very simple, with minimal, easy-to-read rhyming text that introduces very young readers to the birds that visit many Australian backyards. With just one sentence per double-page spread, Backyard Birds highlights the common characteristics of the birds many of us are familiar with, such as the magpie, galah and kookaburra. It’s the bold-patterned and beautifully colourful illustrations that strikingly bring the book together, from the detailed endpapers to each inviting spread. Milroy dedicates Backyard Birds to her two daughters ‘who love watching the birds as much as I do’, and this book is recommended for families, especially those with preschool children. It would be satisfying to share it while bird-spotting together.

Margaret Hamilton AM is a former children’s book publisher. She is now proprietor of Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath, NSW


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