Brindabella by Ursula Dubosarsky & Andrew Joyner

Inside the CBCA Shortlist

Brindabella (Allen & Unwin) is shortlisted in the Younger Reader category of the 2019 CBCA short list.

This junior novel is intriguing and unpredictable. It opens with a sense of mystery, largely generated by the sensory descriptions. These create a great sense of place and include the river and valley and, particularly, the wall of trees when we enter the bush.

The tale then seems to become a conventional narrative about raising a joey, but reader expectations are challenged when Brindabella (the joey) and the other animals begin to speak to each other. The narrative also moves between Pender, the boy protagonist, and Brindabella’s points of view.

This story keeps us guessing.

Ursula Dubosarsky’s website is

Andrew Joyner’s website is

Using the book with students:

I wrote the teacher notes for the publisher so I will let them speak for me further about this novel and will only give one suggestion here, Bookstyling. The teacher notes include many classroom activities linked to the national curriculum. They are available on the Allen & Unwin website. file:///Users/joylawn/Downloads/Brindabella_9781760112042_TN%20(4).pdf

Bookstyling Bookstyling is sometimes used by bloggers to promote books they enjoy. They arrange the book cover (or sometimes internal pages as well) with some other related or aesthetically pleasing items. They may place these onto a backdrop. Then they take some photographs and select the best to blog.

It is still an underused form of book promotion; which students could use here to both promote Brindabella and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the novel.

Method: Students photograph a copy of the novel Brindabella, showing the cover, alongside a few selected physical pieces or images that are relevant to the story, themes or setting such as bushland, an image of a kangaroo, a representation of friendship, and possibly another related book as well. These items all need to be aesthetically pleasing and complement each other, particularly by sharing harmonious or contrasting colours.

Students could possibly photograph these on top of (or in front of) a background or backdrop (equivalent of wallpaper backgrounds on ICT devices). This should be appropriate to the setting etc. and also harmonise.

Students select their best photo. These could then be posted on social media (if appropriate) such as Instagram or Pinterest; e-sent to the author, illustrator or publisher, Allen & Unwin at; printed to hang on classroom or library walls or compiled to form a slideshow.

Alternatively, these bookstyled models could be displayed in their concrete form.

For examples of bookstyling, see Children’s Books Daily blog by Megan Daley:

Fairy Bread by Ursula Dubosarsky

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3 thoughts on “Brindabella by Ursula Dubosarsky & Andrew Joyner

  1. Wonderful post! And thank you so much for giving me a name for how I display images of the books I review. Bookstyling gives added interest and it’s enjoyable to do especially for children’s books 🙂 Gretchen B-W.


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