By CELA on 18 Jun, 2021

Children’s adventure picture book Kokey Koala and the Bush Olympics has been re-published 20 years after it was first launched – just in time for the Tokyo Olympics, and as a tribute and legacy to the late author Trixie Whitmore.

Kokey Koala and the Bush Olympics is the story of a cute koala who, with determination and courage, participates in a series of Bush Olympics sports with the hope of winning an Olympic Gold Medal.

Preschool Director Jenny Hind received a copy to review last week and shares her thoughts with us. Read to the bottom for your chance to win a hardcover edition of the book!

Sydney born author Trixie Whitmore (1935-2020) loved the outdoors and relished long bushwalks, where she would spend hours admiring the flora and fauna.

This love of the bush inspired her to write Kokey the Koala and the Bush Olympics back in 1999 for the Sydney Olympic Games. Now, twenty years on, her family have reprinted a special 20th-anniversary edition, in memory of Trixie with her ‘never give up’ attitude to life. Illustrated by Claire Yerbury and Marlene Nash, each illustration shows the changing landscapes of Australia, with great care taken to include the correct flora and fauna for each area.

The book follows Kokey’s challenges as he participates in the Bush Olympics, with readers wondering whether he will win a gold medal. Each page lists animals for children to spot in the pictures, with answers at the back of the book. Can you recognise a dunnart, platypus, phascogale, echidna, antechinus, cicada, lyrebird or pademelon?

CELA member and preschool Director Jenny Hind recently reviewed the book for us after reading it to a group of 4 year old children at her preschool.

Book review written by Jenny Hind:

Kokey the Koala and the Bush Olympics might be 20 years old, but it’s still incredibly relevant for today. The book enables children to learn about Australian animals, some Olympic events and the importance of persistence when trying new things. The book was really engaging for the preschool children I read it to because they loved finding, identifying and counting all the Australian animals in the gorgeous illustrations.

Many children went back to the book after storytime to spend more time looking at each picture. Together they talked about the expressions on the animals faces and how Kokey was feeling in each of the sports events.

Reading the story encouraged conversations about different types of Australian animals, their habitat, and if they could run, swim or fly. The children also loved telling me what sports they themselves are good at and other Olympic events they knew of. As many of the children had not heard about the Olympics, likely due to the reduced coverage because of the pandemic, the book provided a great introduction to the global event as well as encouraging discussion about different sports and animals. It was wonderful that many of the children understood that the heart of the story was about Kokey having to keep trying and practicing in order to be good at something.

We referred to the story and Kokey when we set up an obstacle course and sport skills activities later and encouraged children to keep trying even if they are not very good at something just yet.

I’d encourage others reading the book to take the time to carefully look at the illustrations and enjoy the fun of finding each of the animals and plants. Due to the amount of detail in the images, the book best suits reading to a small group or individual child.

Would you like to win a hardcover copy of the book?

Simply tell us in 50 words or less why you think the children in your centre would enjoy the book. Competition ends Wednesday 30 June 2021.



About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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