The Littlest Bushranger comes to town

Today I welcome wonderful writer and friend, Alison Reynolds to celebrate the launch of her latest picture book The Littlest Bushranger.

Alison Pith HelmetAlison is the multi-talented, much published author of the Ranger Danger series, A Year with Marmalade and For You Mum amongst her many other titles. Prolific, dedicated and professional describe Alison’s work ethic. Gorgeous, evocative and imaginative describe her books.

The Littlest Bushranger embodies all these adjectives and is a delightful rendering of a child’s imagination at play. Vivid descriptions transform an ordinary backyard into the bush, a bird into an outlaw, a hose into a snake and the adventure begins with Jack in pursuit of the villain.The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVER

When Jack’s big sister Lil starts school, he is left with only his faithful dog Hector for company and Lil’s favourite toy to protect. But an ordinary day transforms into an extraordinary one when Jack’s called upon to do battle with a fiendish villain… 

This book will prove inspirational to today’s child readers who often miss the chance to day-dream and explore their imaginations with so much fully formed fare lade on for them in video games, instant digital amusements and movies on demand. It brought so many memories back to my mind of games of make-believe my sisters and I shared as children and adventures in my own imagination. I love the reminder that make-believe is fun and can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

The text of The Littlest Bushranger evokes Jack’s adventure through strong verbs and fast paced action. The fantastic imagery of the “murky billabong”, a dark shape swooping, hurdling a snake, splashing through a billabong, paint word pictures in my mind as vivid as the wonderful images on the page.

Heath McKenzie’s  http://www.heathmck.com fabulous illustrations show the wild adventure in Jack’s imagination – the fierce battle, his grim determination and the friends who help him battle their foe. I love the return to reality at the end when the billabong reveals as a wading pool, the sword reverts to a broom and Jack’s trusty stead becomes his bicycle.

I can’t resist asking Alison a few questions on the topic of make-believe.

Alison, I got the strong feeling whilst reading The Littlest Bushranger that you were closely connected to this type of imaginative play. How much did your own childhood influence the idea and development of Jack’s story?

A huge amount. I didn’t realise until I finished how much of myself was in the book. I loved playing imaginative games, including some that lasted for days. I had a secret passage behind the cotoneasters along the driveway, I would make tomato soup out of rust on top of the incinerator and dragged all the furniture out of my cubby house onto its. That was my penthouse!

Can you share one of your favourite childhood games of make-believe?

I played one named, rather macabrely, Death. With my two friends we would act out a scenario that resulted in Death, which we would all chant in sombre, dramatic tones.  I remember the first one I did as a sort of demonstration model was me staggering along in a desert, panting and then slowly collapsing into the sand. I was lost in a desert. The death throes lasted for a long, long time.

What do you believe is the role and/or benefit of make-believe in children’s lives?

I think make-believe is extremely important. You can control your own environment. Often children feel as if they have no control in their reality. Children can express their feelings in play and storytelling.  It’s also a lot of fun. I remember how there were no limits in my imaginative play. If I wanted to fly, I could do it!

Will we see further adventures of Jack?

I’m crossing my fingers as I have some more adventures up my sleeve that I would love to share with Jack.

As part of Alison’s blog tour she is offering some fantastic prizes along the way, plus a great opportunity for non-fiction writers, and a fantastic MONSTER drawing competition. 

Jump the Slush Pile!

Win a free pass to a adult non-fiction commissioning editor’s desk.

Just comment on this blog post or any other blog during the The Littlest Bushranger blog tour and add the initials NF. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win the draw.

Monster Competition:

There are a couple of monsters in The Littlest Bushranger. One’s a bunyip, and the other an outlaw/monster who steals Lil’s telescope. What sort of monster do you like? Send along a painting/drawing/model of a monster and you could win a piece of Heath McKenzie’s amazing artwork for The Littlest Bushranger.

Upload your own best monster to https://www.facebook.com/alison.reynolds.524 or email it as a low res jpeg file to alrey@msn.com.au and we’ll upload it. If you don’t have a scanner, take a photo on a smart phone and email that!

Two categories. Under 12 and 12 plus, including grown-ups. Entries close 25th June!

The Littlest Bushranger The Five Mile Press June 2013 ISBN 97817434664977

The Littlest bushranger_FRONT COVERFollow the other stops on Alison’s book tour and watch out for further prizes along the ride including: a piece of Heath McKenzie’s artwork from The Littlest Bushranger, a picture book assessment by Alison Reynolds, 2 free passes direct to an editor’s desk (you get to skip the slush pile), copies of The Littlest Bushranger. Just comment on the posts.

June 11 Kat Apel  http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/blog/

June 12 Chris Bell  https://christinebell.com.au/

June 13 Angela Sunde  http://angelasunde.blogspot.com.au/

June 14 Boomerang Books  http://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/author/dpowell

June 18 Dee White  http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com/

June 19 Kids Book Review  http://www.kids-bookreview.com/

June 20 Ask the Editor. Interview with Melissa Keil  


June 21 Ask the Sales Rep. Interview with Melinda Beaumont   



Share this page


katswhiskers" alt="katswhiskers">


Make believe is up there with design make and appraise; vital engagement for kids, setting them up for a lifetime of learning. I love the creativity in this book and know it will generate great home and classroom discussions. The balance between imagination and reality is so perfectly poised.

June 12, 2013 at 10:36 am
Dee White" alt="Dee White">

Dee White

Thanks Chris and Alison for this great post. I’m a big make believer too – and I love the way Alison and Heath showcase their fantastic imaginations in The Littlest Bushranger.

Great prizes on this tour too:)



June 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm
Dale" alt="Dale">


Make believe is essential for children and sadly missing in the lives of some kids. good on you for bringing it back. Sounds a fun book

June 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm
Kathy" alt="Kathy">


Lovely post. I think I love the look of determination on the horses face. My children adore horses and reading. What a beautiful way to stimulate their imagination; like a dvd can not. NF

June 16, 2013 at 10:22 pm
    christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


    Hi Kathy
    Great to see you here and thank you for your comment. When you see The Littlest Bushranger in reality, as a photographer, I think you’ll love it for the texture of the cover, through the stunning visuals of the illustrations and then the pace and power of the text. To me, it works on and from all aspects.
    Best wishes,
    PS: I enjoyed reading your blog 🙂

    June 17, 2013 at 9:17 am
Susan @ Reading Upside Down" alt="Susan @ Reading Upside Down">

Susan @ Reading Upside Down

I think so many people fail to appreciate the value of allowing children time, space and opportunity to explore their imagination – and not just young children! I’ve always encouraged my own children to be creative in the way they look at the world and I confess that I have kind of piggy-backed on their imaginative games and stories at times, allowing them to draw me back into the wonderful freedom of being able to set your own limits and define your own ‘reality’.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Alison and Chris.


June 17, 2013 at 9:42 pm
    christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


    Hi Susan,
    I remember and loved that “piggy-backing”, that took me vicariously to so many places with my children and the shared tales. One forgets that type of imaginative freedom as one grows up (unless one is a children’s writer ☺ ). This book is a fabulous springboard to imagination and it and all of the wonderful comments remind me of so much from my own childhood. Even some flights of imagination never shared with anyone. Children, and probably we adults too, all need moments that take us beyond our day-to-day restrictions and way beyond our own backyards!

    Thanks for your great comments, Susan, and good luck in the competition.


    June 18, 2013 at 10:48 am
Peter Taylor" alt="Peter Taylor">

Peter Taylor

I’m loving this blog tour – many congratulations on your wonderful book, Alison and Heath, and thanks for hosting and the great questions, Chris. As an only child I had a wonderful childhood with imaginative play in our backyard using household items, pretend cave and my father’s tools out of his workshop (some items not always appreciated) – and my children certainly played for hours with cardboard boxes. We’ve all become creative thinkers as adults – son: interior architect and product designer now studying engineering and robotics so that he can design artificial limbs; daughter: professional musician and music teacher; me: about 7 books in various stages of completion, one being 3 sample chapters just finished for a non-fiction for adults, ‘A Celebration of Small Things’. Yep, adding NF into the competition mix :).

All best wishes and many thanks


June 18, 2013 at 8:20 am
    christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


    Hi Peter

    Your comment and mention of imaginative play using household items made me laugh bringing to mind a particular day when my sisters and I were playing tea parties while washing the breakfast dishes. I was making cups of tea by pouring detergent and hot water into our grandmother’s little silver teapot. Then sipping cups of tea, only every time I opened my mouth and tried to talk, bubbles burst forth. I recall I nearly made myself ill trying, but never managing, to replicate the trick.
    Wonderful to read how your family have they’ve taken creativity into their adult lives.
    Good luck in the NF comp and with bring ‘A Celebration of Small Things’ to publication.

    Best wishes,

    June 18, 2013 at 10:25 am
kelmcdonald" alt="kelmcdonald">


Inspiring…love it. cant wait to get a copy 😉

June 18, 2013 at 8:54 am


I love the cover. It jumps right out and grabs your attention, luring you in and causing you to want to know what that girl and horse are up to. Wishing both Alison and Heath a wonderful and prosperous journey with this latest book!


June 18, 2013 at 11:06 am


Oops, forgot to put CB after my comment :0)

June 18, 2013 at 11:11 am
alison reynolds" alt="alison reynolds">

alison reynolds

Peter, So lovely to read about your adventure. I loved a pretend cave.
And Chris, you made me laugh with your bubble filled teapot.
Maybe imaginative play was a huge thing for writers and creating creative adults.

June 18, 2013 at 2:27 pm
    Peter Taylor" alt="Peter Taylor">

    Peter Taylor

    I’m certain that imaginative play in childhood encourages creativity as an adult, Alison. Apart from indulging in such flights of fantasy, I wonder how many writers also had imaginary friend companions they talked to when a child? It’s remarkable how many calligraphers of my baby boomer age and older were ink monitors at school. Writers, too? I guess most are now unaccustomed to such classroom responsibilities of ensuring everyone’s clean supply and refilling inkwells for the start of the day. I’m sure part of my love of creative writing also stems from early tactile enjoyment of a pliant and free flowing nib rhythmically racing on silky smooth paper. When the words case to flow when tapping on my computer (which love), I always grab pen and paper and find I tune in to the emotion of the scene to a greater extent by handwriting/scrawling and changing the appearance of the writing accordingly.
    Peter 🙂

    June 18, 2013 at 3:24 pm
alison reynolds" alt="alison reynolds">

alison reynolds

Susan I know exactly what you mean by piggybacking on your child’s imagination. It gives you an excuse to escape into the imaginary realm yourself!

June 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm
alison reynolds" alt="alison reynolds">

alison reynolds

Kathy, I loved the look of determination on the horse’s face. Bushranger horses are an important part of the gang.

June 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm
alison reynolds" alt="alison reynolds">

alison reynolds

I am so happy to hear that the cover works for you.
Heath is an amazing illustrator and I was so excited when the editor revealed this as the cover.
Best wishes with your writing

June 18, 2013 at 2:31 pm
alison reynolds" alt="alison reynolds">

alison reynolds

Hi Kelly,
So nice to see you at Chris’s site. It’s a lovely place.
Hope you enjoy The Littlest Bushranger!

June 18, 2013 at 2:32 pm


It is a precious gift to grow up and know the realities of adult life and still be able to reach within and touch children with the imagination. It is magic and magical! I guess when all is said and done, no matter how much we grow up, the child in each of us lives on. It only perishes when stop believing and make believing.
Thank you for an insightful interaction. nmn.


June 19, 2013 at 5:43 am


Thank you. I am actually enjoying this blog tour. I usually avoid them like the plague. I am terrible 🙂 Zambia is a long way from Australia. I’d be floored if I could walk away with an appraisal or miss the dreaded slush pile. Either way, this is fuun. Learning quite a bit from everyone. nmn.


June 20, 2013 at 5:21 am
    christinemareebell" alt="christinemareebell">


    So glad that you are enjoying the tour, nmn. Check out the two fantastic interviews coming up on Alison’s website http://www.alisonreynolds.com.au/ for more chances to “be floored”! Today – an interview with Five Mile Press, Editor, Melissa Keil and tomorrow’s interview with FMP Sales Rep Melinda Beaumont. Lots of fabulous insights and gems coming up in both, I believe.
    Best wishes,

    June 20, 2013 at 11:02 am


Hi Chris,

Thanks for the tip. Having a ball tagging along so I most certainly will. This was a supper dupper awesome idea.

cheers. nmn.


June 21, 2013 at 12:01 am
Karen Tyrrell" alt="Karen Tyrrell">

Karen Tyrrell

Hi Chris,
Fabulous interview on Alison’s book.
Loved learning about the role of the imagination and make-believe in the text of the book … Karen 🙂 CB

June 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Leave A Comment

Praise for No Small Shame

Upcoming Events

Recent Blog Posts