Tony and Anne Bishop live on a grazing property in the Upper Hunter Valley of N.S.W. where Tony has lived all his life and Anne for the last 46 years. Their house is surrounded by a large romantic garden, which has provided inspiration and themes for their children’s stories.
Anne spends a great deal of time happily in her garden with, for the last 35 years, the constant companionship of one or more Cavalier King Charles spaniels.
While they cannot be absolutely certain about the fairies, the animals mentioned in the stories are either permanent residents in the garden or visitors to it. Dogs, ducks, guinea fowl, peacocks, turtles, lizards and many native birds permanently live there, with kangaroos, foxes, echidnas, possums, snakes, goannas, rabbits, rats, mice making frequent appearances, and a platypus and a wombat very infrequent ones. So, there is a measure of realism in the stories. The habits of turtles, goannas, birds, rabbits, rats, the behaviour of small dogs, the dangers from predators, from wilful disobedience and from flash floods are all grounded in reality.
Each story has a theme: courage - The Goannas’ Lunch; kindness - the two turtle stories; obedience - the two little dog stories and the necessity to form an unlikely alliance to fight a common enemy in The Great Rat Invasion. While Tony’s illustrations are for children of all ages from 3 to 93, the text, being written for the most part in narrative rhyme, challenges the very young reader’s word power and so the stories are most suitable for children from about 7 to 12 years.
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