‘Mopoke’ is the Australian nickname for the Southern Boobook, our smallest and most common species of owl. They are known for a love of peace and quiet, and their eponymous “mo-poke” call.

My first picture book tells the story of one little owl’s struggle to find peace.

With a deliberately dry and clipped tone, Mopoke is designed to sound like Australian banter, channel the look of a Glenn Murcutt house, and feel as warm as a midsummer night out in the bush.

Using as few words as possible, Mopoke asks the parent or reader to bring their own personal interpretation and expression to the book reading. The relative sparsity of words and pictures requires the reader to increase intonation, experiment with volume, play with pauses, and all of those good things that ultimately enhance the parent-child book-reading experience.

It’s pretty crude, I know, but through this method I hope to encourage more playful interaction between the parent and child, and allow the book to become a platform for deep and focussed engagement. Ultimately, the more fun the child has during their early reading experiences, the more likely they will be to return to books; love reading; improve emergent literacy skills; and later find comfort in reading and learning.

If there is a message to Mopoke, it’s one that seeks to counter the entitlement movement. The book is grounded in themes of impermanence, respect and consequence, but if there is a moral takeaway, I hope Mopoke reminds children (and their parents) that you can’t always get what you want.

Mopoke is my first picture book, and I sincerely hope that it brings heaps of fun to you and yours.

Mopoke is published in Australia by Scholastic Australia, in China by Shanghai Insight Media, in the UK by Scholastic UK, and in Japan by BL Publishing.

Awards & stuff.

  • Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA): Picture Book of the Year 2018 (Honour Book)
  • Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Crichton Award for New Illustrators 2018 (finalist)
  • KOALA Awards 2019 (Honour Award)
  • Kate Greenaway Medal 2018 (longlisted)
  • White Raven Book 2018
  • Indie Book Awards 2018 (longlisted)
  • Australian Book Design Awards: Best Designed Children’s Illustrated Book 2018 (longlisted)
  • Australian Book Industry Awards: Picture Book of the Year 2018 (longlisted)
  • The Guardian’s Best Children’s Books 2017 (finalist)

Watch the trailer.

More books.

How Did I Get Here? by Philip Bunting | Book cover
Sandcastle by Philip Bunting | Book cover
Koalas Eat Gum Leaves by Laura Bunting & Philip Bunting | Book cover