The Bush Book Club by Margaret Wild

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Ill. by Ben Wood. Omnibus, 2014. ISBN 9781742990149.
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Books and reading. Australian animals. All the animals belonged to the Bush Book Club. They loved to read and would meet in their club house tree and discuss and swap books. But Bilby didn't like to read. He couldn't sit still long enough to get through a book and why read when he could do handstands and skip and hop? What will it take to get Bilby to read a book?
Margaret Wild has written a delightful book about the joy of reading using rhyming verse and the dexterous use of alliteration. The animal characters are brought alive with subtle humour that children will love: Echnida reads in bed, with 'platters of ants and buttered bread', while 'Crocodile loved stories that made him cry. He sniffled and snuffled, sobbed and sighed.' The energetic little Bilby when locked in the club room, finds ways to use up all the books building a tower, a fort, a great wall, and three houses. Eventually he is bored and decides to open the pages of The terrifying adventures of big brave Bilby and discovers that words and stories can be exciting too.
Ben Wood's illustrations are lots of fun. On his website he describes the process of how he locates the headquarters of the Bush Book Club in a gumtree on an island in the middle of the river. The club house is filled with books and comfortable armchairs and sofas and even better, the animals can climb out and sit on the tree's limbs and read. Young readers will enjoy the happy expressions on the animals' faces and love the illustrations of Bilby as he discovers a book that keeps him spellbound.
With a beautifully written story that could become a read aloud favourite and soft, humorous illustrations, this book is a keeper.
Pat Pledger