Book Review: Our Nest Is Best! by Penny Olsen and Penny O’Hara

Until I started My Little Bookcase I wasn’t aware that the National Library of Australia actually published books for children.

‘Books published by the National Library of Australia further the Library’s objectives to interpret and highlight the Library’s collections.’

We’ve featured a few NLA books on My Little Bookcase including Animal Tales, Amazing Grace and Australian Story. But the two adorable books featured below would have to be my favourites.

Our Nest is Best!


Penny Olsen and Penny O’Hara have written a wholesome story about two robins making plans to build a nest. The dialogue-style layout is easy for toddlers to follow but is also rich with information. The book is also an absolute delight to look at.

Ruby and Rocky decide that in order to build the best nest they should visit other birds to find out how to do it.

Each double-page spread sees Ruby and Rocky visiting a different family of birds, and also features a classic illustration from The National Library of Australia’s collection. They visit magpies who build strong nests out of sticks; owls who live inside tree trunks; swallows whose nests are made out of mud; emus who build their nests on the ground; kookaburras who live in hollow branches; grebes who build floating nests; fairy-wrens and reed-warblers.

The illustrations featured in the book have been carefully chosen and were originally painted by Neville Henry Cayley (1853-1903), Ebenezer Edward Gostelow (1866-1944) and Betty Temple Watts (1901-1992); some of the paintings date back to 1893.

While Rocky finds strengths in each of the nests they visit, Ruby can see why the nests would not suit robins and is quick to criticise.

‘Too dirty, too big, too small, too soggy. None of these nests is right for us.’

Ruby and Rocky are forced to build a nest that will suit them, using bark, grass, moss, spider’s webs, fur and soft feathers. Eventually creating one which is just perfect…..for a robin.

‘Too small for Magpie or Owl, and too high for Emu. Swallow prefers a muddy nest and Grebe her floating home. But for a robin, it’s the very best.

This is lovely book that looks at the complexities of nature while also exposing your child to fine works of art.


Book Details:

Authors: Penny Olsen and Penny O’Hara

ISBN: 978-0642277374

Format: Board Book

Publisher: National Library of Australia, February 2012

RRP: $12.95 (aud)

(★★★★★)

You might also like…

10 Bush Babies

‘10 bush babies went out one day,

Into the sun to jump and play.

Mrs. Roo rang

Ding-ding-ding-ding…

But only 9 bush babies ran in.’

And so begins this Australian adaptation of 5 Little Ducks, with a gorgeous facing image of Mrs. Roo and her 10 native babies.

One by one the babies disappear from the scene. There is a flap to lift on each page. Lifting each flap will reveal which animal has not returned to Mrs Roo after their play.

Not only will you find out what the animal has decided it wants to do instead, but you’re also treated to a Did You Know? fact about the animal. For instance, you’ll find out why baby wombat would fall asleep and why baby emu would go looking for his dad.

With its lovely pastel colours, flaps to lift and lyrical rhythm, 10 Bush Babies would make a lovely gift for a baby or young child.

Book Details:

Author: Susan Hall

Illustrator: Naomi Zouwer

ISBN: 978-0642277329

Format: Paperback

Publisher: National Library of Australia, September 2011

RRP: $17.95 (aud)

(★★★★★)

This book can be purchased from the National Library of Australia Bookstore.

Book Review: Our Nest Is Best! by Penny Olsen and Penny O’Hara

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Book Review: Our Nest Is Best! by Penny Olsen and Penny O’Hara

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