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9:18 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

Library Ladies: Books 'celebrate what's great' Down Under

Celebrated as a national holiday on Jan. 26 with the theme "Celebrate What's Great," Australia Day (www.australiaday.gov.au) originally recognized the First Landing or Foundation Day in the early 19th century. The day was first proclaimed as a public holiday in 1838, but wasn't celebrated nationally until 1994. Take a trip Down Under to a very unusual part of our world.

"Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living" by Carrie Tiffany. 2005.

In 1934, the Better-Farming Train carries livestock, honeybees, wheat and advice to farmers in towns across Australia. Tiffany populates the train with original characters: women's specialist Sister Crock; Mr. Ohno, a chicken sexer; cooking expert Mary; soil-tasting scientist Mr. Pettergree; and the narrator, seamstress Jean Cunningham. Mr. Pettergree and Jean begin a relationship, then leave the train to put their scientific theories into practice on a farm. When their idealistic principles face the realism of the Depression and drought, their relationship suffers.

Tiffany uses spare prose to tell a unique, sensual story that resonates long after the last page. - Anna Smith

"The Story Of Rosy Dock" by Jeannie Baker. 1995.

Our Australia theme gives me a chance to review a Jeannie Baker book. Baker's books are amazing works of collage construction art. Born in England, she now lives in Australia, and "The Story of Rosy Dock" illustrates in a unique way the cycle of the desert in Australia, the coming of the rains and the consequences of introducing a non-native species of plants to an environment. Though her collages are designed to illustrate books, they stand individually as works of art and are exhibited in galleries. Check out Jeannie Baker's books in the Easy section of the KidSpace. - Joyce Read

"In a Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson. 2000.

Dreaming of a trip to Australia? Maybe you've already been there. Whichever category fits, this book is for you. Bryson takes the reader on a trip around the country by car, train and whatever other forms of transportation he found. He likes Australia and the people of Australia. Bryson will teach you more about Australian history than any history book. Learn about the flora and fauna, the geography and geology of this country that is also a continent in a highly amusing and readable book. Read it when you're feeling a bit down, or when the cabin fever of winter is setting in and you're longing for warmth and sunshine and a good laugh.

- Fran Garner

"Chasing Kangaroos" by Tim Flannery. 2004.

Part memoir, part scientific exploration, and completely charming, this book introduces the remarkable kangaroo in depth and across time. Uniquely adapted to the continent, dozens of species of ground and tree kangaroos fill a wide variety of ecological niches throughout Australia and Papua New Guinea. From his first motorcycle circumambulation of the continent (well, most of it) through his emergence as an internationally known scientist, Flannery brings a sharp scientific eye and a wonderfully self-deprecating sense of humor to this absorbing tale.

- Sharon Seymour

The Library Ladies are on the staff of Prescott Public Library.