Nov 162018

EK Books

It may feel like there are still plenty of weeks left before Christmas, but when you have to send Christmas presents overseas you’re quickly running out of time. As a foreigner I have to make sure I get all my shopping and shipping done on time or my family and friends back in Europe will be left empty handed on the big day. Thankfully I recently discovered this gorgeous book by EK Books‘ Tania McCartney and it’s the perfect Aussie parcel gift:

Australia: Illustrated is an absolute treat for readers of all ages. It packs all the best bits (well, most of them) of Australia into a beautiful picture book that will be read over and over again. One look and it will become your favourite go-to gift for both true blue Aussies and those who are yet to learn all about the Land Downunder. (Bonus: A book is the perfect size for flat pack envelopes making it airmail friendly too!)

There is just so much to love about Australia: Illustrated and it covers so many different aspects of our beautiful Australia: its animals, its foods, its eye-catching nature, its language, its icons and so much more. With almost 100 pages chockfull of Aussie greatness you’ll be making new discoveries on every single page. After the initial introduction author and illustrator Tania McCartney visits each Australian state and you get to come along for the ride…

In New South Wales we learn about famous places and beaches, food trucks and ferries, sheep and snowy mountains. In Victoria we travel along the Great Ocean Road and take a look in the Murray River, we try out street food and take the trams. In Queensland we taste gelati, see a proper Queenslander home and dive into the Great Barrier Reef. In South Australia we explore the Cooper Pedy Dugouts, go to the Country Show and watch the Adelaide Kite Festival. In Western Australia we learn about the cutest furry animals, enjoy the Perth beaches and admire pretty wildflowers.

Across the water in Tasmania we visit a chocolate factory, walk along the Overland Track and try a range of seafood and cheese. Up in the Northern Territory we ride on the Ghan, are warned about dangerous creatures and learn about the beautiful birds of Kakadu. Last but not least in the Australian Capital Territory we wander around the National Arboretum, watch the hot air balloons and slurp a delicious monster shake.

Of course this is just a small taste of all this stunning picture book has to show, and no matter how Aussie you are you are likely to still discover new facts, places or words that will make you fall in love with Australia even more. This book is a must-read but also a must-see as the detailed illustrations are simply divine. Australia: Illustrated, it’s a beauty!

You can find ‘Australia: Illustrated’ (RRP $32.99) in leading book stores across Australia.

To find out more about EK Books, to browse the range and to order your favourite titles online visit

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 192017

EK Books

After spending twelve fun-filled months with our five little friends in A Canadian Year it’s time to continue our world trip. This time we’re going to explore a destination a bit closer to home in the latest A Kids Year adventure, New Zealand here we come!

In A Kiwi Year (RRP $19.99) we are taken by the hand of tour guides Mason, Charlotte, Oliver, Ruby and Kaia who can’t wait to tell us all about life in New Zealand. Come discover the special traditions, favourite places, typical New Zealand foods, fun celebrations and other unique things that make their home country so amazing.

In Summer Kiwi kids spend time at their bach or crib (a holiday house), they wear their Jandals, eat Hokey Pokey ice cream and celebrate Waitingi Day. They also love exciting activities like tramping and biking in the mountains, black water rafting, bungy jumping and you can even dig your very own hot pool at the beach, there is no time to get bored.

When the weather cools down and the rainy season starts you have to wear your gumboots and take a brolly but don’t worry, there is still plenty to do! How about a tram-trip to Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology, a look-out from the Sky Tower, a dip in in the Hot Springs of Rotorua or a visit to the Orana Wildlife Park? You may spot one of New Zealand’s many native birds (eg. Kiwi, Kakapo, Weka or Takahe) or see beautiful nature like silver ferns or Kowhai trees.

I especially love New Zealand’s December festivities. Kiwis have their own native Christmas tree (a pohutukawa), they sing along to Te Haring, enjoy a Christmas Hangi (a traditional Maori way of cooking) and wish each other a Meri Kirihimete. Merry Christmas everyone!

You can find the A Kids Year series in leading book stores across Australia.

To find out more about EK Books, to browse more Tania McCartney books and to order your favourite titles online visit

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 092017

EK Books

Over the past few years Aussie author Tania McCartney has taken us on some fabulous A Kids Year adventures, showing us a glimpse of what life is like for children living in a range of interesting countries and cities around the globe. This month you’re invited to travel with us to two brand new destinations, for our first trip you may want to put on your gloves and pack your beanie as we’re heading all the way to Canada:

In A Canadian Year (RRP $19.99) we meet five Canadian kids who each have their own history and story to tell. Over the course of the book, which is divided over 12 months, these young Canadians share about their families, the languages, the weather, the food, the places they live, their hobbies, favourite Canadian festivities and more through fun, colourful illustrations… Come and meet Chloe, Oki, Ava, Liam and Noah!

Being so very different to Australia our kids love reading all about this foreign country, they can’t imagine what -30°C feels like but they sure get very excited about the sound of ice hockey, sled races, skiing and riding the toboggan. Everyone is chatting  about igloos and ice hotels, we discover the meaning of Inuit and why houses in North Canada are built on stilts.

But Canada does get sun too, which is when Canadian kids go berry hunting, hiking in the Rocky Mountains or enjoy a weiner roast on the beach. Throughout the year they celebrate Peacekeepers Day, Canada Day, Vimy Ridge Day and there are plenty of other interesting celebrations that are new to us.

Want some more cool Canadian facts and inside scoop? How about  ‘Ogopogo’ (The Lake Okanagan monster), Loonies and Toonies (pocket money), Mounties (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), Bannock (Canadian flat bread) or Tartan Day? Once you’ve finished ‘A Canadian Year’ you’ll be a true Canada connoisseur.

You can find the ‘A Kids Year’ series in leading book stores across Australia.

To find out more about EK Books, to browse more Tania McCartney books and to order your favourite titles online visit

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A New York Year giveaway

 Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on A New York Year giveaway
Sep 062016

EK Books

Last month we went on a virtual trip to the multicultural state of Texas, this time A Kids Year is taking you on a brand new adventure to a famous place most people will only know from the movies: New York!

A New York Year

They call it ‘the city that never sleeps’ and I am not surprised, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to check out all that New York has to offer. Aussie author Tania McCartney has done an amazing job squeezing all the best facts about The Big Apple into a gorgeous children’s book called A New York Year (RRP $19.99).

Spread out over 12 months and 24 pages five cool NY kids from different backgrounds tell you about the state they live in, the things they celebrate, the places they visit, the food they eat and plenty of other fun things you never knew about New York. Illustrated with lots of colourful, engaging pictures, fabulous fonts and short sentences A New York Year is the most fabulous way to teach kids about a different country, city and culture.

Make up your own NY itinerary (Children’s Museum of the Arts, Howe Caverns and Central Park), mark your calendar (Inauguration Day, Harlem Week and Cinco the Mayo), join the festivities (Macy’s Fireworks Spectacular, Kwanzaa and Colombus Day), put on your apron (Churros, bagels and pancakes) and much, much more, with A New York you’ll be a New York expert in no time!

You can find the Kids Year series in leading book stores across Australia or online in the EK Books Shop.

To find out more about EK Books, to browse more Tania McCartney books and to order your favourite titles online visit

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A Texas Year giveaway

 Toys, Books & Movies  Comments Off on A Texas Year giveaway
Aug 302016

EK Books

The things our kids love most about our holidays to The Netherlands is visiting the place I grew up in, looking at the house I used to live in, seeing the school I went to, hearing about special Dutch traditions and simply learning how ordinary Dutch kids spend their childhood. The fact that kids can relate to other children and find them very interesting is no secret, which is why the A Kids Year book series by Aussie author Tania McCartney is such a hit:

A Texas Year

This month two brand new titles have joined the A Kids Year family, starting with A Texas Year (RRP $19.99) which takes young readers on a journey around Texas guided by five Texan children (and you don’t even have to hop on a plane to come along!).

Life is never boring when you live in Texas, with so many cultures living together there is always something fun, exciting or special to do. In true ‘A Kids Year’ style the book is divided over twelve months and is filled with interesting Texan facts that kids will find super interesting. The colourful illustrations and playful, easy-to-read design makes this an enjoyable read that is both cool and educational at the same time.

Discover Texan places to visit like the Johnson Space Centre, the Comal River or the Canyons, learn about festivities like Oktoberfest, Las Posadas or the Texas Folklife Festival, spot mule deers, Texas Longhorns and rattlesnakes or get hungry looking at cheese enchiladas, Bundt Cake or fried dough, I bet after reading A Texas Year the kids can’t wait to pick their next holiday destination.

You can find the Kids Year series in leading book stores across Australia or online in the EK Books Shop.

To find out more about EK Books, to browse more Tania McCartney books and to order your favourite titles online visit

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sep 132015

EK Books

Book Week may officially be over but as you know we are big readers all year around so I couldn’t possibly resist sharing these beautiful new additions to the Kids Year book series. Written by the talented Tania McCartney and illustrated by Tina Snerling each Kids Year book is filled to the brim with fun, quirky, exciting and interesting facts about life in another country. Using short sentences and beautifully detailed pictures that you can look at for ages young readers will discover what the local kids get up to, eat, celebrate, enjoy and play with throughout the year. What a wonderful way to broaden your child’s horizon!

An Aussie YearIt all started one year ago with the release of An Aussie Year (RRP $19.99). Whether you are a purebred Aussie, a newbie or even living overseas, you are sure to enjoy this colourful book full of Aussie highlights. Explore childhood in Australia through the eyes of five Aussie kids, all from different backgrounds, families and locations across the country. I absolutely LOVED this book and (being relatively new to Australia myself) I learnt a lots of cool stuff I didn’t know about my new home country.

An English YearWith Australia being linked so strongly to the United Kingdom An English Year (RRP $19.99) is the logical no.2 in this great book series. England represents a true melting pot of cultures and this is clearly visible throughout the book. From snowy Christmases to mushy peas, from Shakespeare to the Wianki Festival, from pitched roofs to Buckingham Palace and from conkers to Bobbies, let’s see how much you know about England!

A Scottish YearOf course you can’t welcome England without its grassy green neighbour Scotland. Most people (including myself) won’t get much further than tartan, bag pipes and haggis so the A Scottish Year (RRP $19.99) offers a very welcome look into all the other things that make Scotland such a unique country to live in. Scottish kids sure know how to show their pride with many celebrations throughout the year. By the way, did you know the unicorn is the official animal of Scotland?

The awesome thing about Kids Year books is that they are much more than just a picture book you read once and put away. As you flick through the months and read about new places, foods, traditions and more you can use the book as a fun conversation starter. Go look up different cities on the map, try out a recipe, talk about the country’s history, make some traditional craft… the options are endless! The Kids Year series would be a fabulous resource for classrooms too.

You can find the Kids Year series in leading book stores across Australia or online in the EK Books Shop.

To find out more about EK Books, to browse more Tania McCartney books and to order your favourite titles online visit

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Apr 102012

A long, long time ago before I became a mother, I used to have time to reads books. I read every spare minute of my time, on the bus, in my lunch break, in the bath, in the bed, I just love reading and find it very relaxing. I am hoping there will soon come a time when I get to enjoy a good book again so I have started a list of books I want to read and one of them is Beijing Tai Tai.

After reading a few snippits of this book by Australian mum Tania McCartney I can’t wait to dig in and read it from cover to cover. This brave mum did something I could never do, move with her husband and two small children to the capital of China for four long years. I don’t know how much you (think you) know about China but I am most definitely not an expert and this is a great book to learn more about this amazing country, the good and the bad, seen through a mum’s eyes.

The easy-to-read, column style set-up makes Beijing Tai Tai an enjoyable (and often hilarious) read and I have no doubt you will appreciate Tania’s story telling. There are lots of differences between Australia and China and fashion is most certainly one of them. Especially for Hip little one Tania is sharing a bit more about what is hip in Beijing and how she eventually managed (was forced) to accept the Beijing style, enjoy!

The Kids’ Fashion Snob
How Beijing’s stores took me down a peg or two

Oh, the bedazzlement! How overcome was I when I first saw the kids’ clothing available in China. The sequins, the lace, the ruffles and frills. The neon, the mesh, the English language slogans in chronic need of a sober proof reader. And let’s not forget the collection of pilfered Disney characters, Bobdog and Hello Kitty emblazoned on pant legs from here to Middle Kingdom Come. Oh, the devastation. I knew kids clothes were cheap in China and sadly, I soon found out why.

You see, I absolutely adore kids’ clothing; always have. And like many things in life, the more beautiful––the higher the price tag. Put it this way: $5 Levi rip-offs look like $5 Levi rip-offs.

When we first moved to pre-Olympic Beijing (2005), my kids toddled the grime-laden streets wearing snowy white, frightfully expensive designer duds. I was wearing daggy ten-year-old jeans and owned two pairs of scuffed shoes but my kids looked like models from a Country Road pressed-linen fashion shoot. Their designer t-shirts alone fetched a price that would have any serious shopper feigning a faint at Ya Show market.

Any sane person knows it’s quite ridiculous what real designer clothing costs, yet I happily went without so I could gaze upon my kids in their gorgeous photo-shoot ensembles. Yes, I adored the white clouds of French linen, the trendy fabrics, the retro designs. I was, indeed, a kids’ clothing aficionado, a wannabe clothing designer for little ones, a shameless kids’ fashion snob who would shun the hairdresser and instead resort to bottled hair-colour with the singular intention of avoiding a Spiderman pyjama meltdown at Kmart.

So I hauled box after box of these outrageously-priced ensembles to Beijing, but alas, when you go live in a different country for four years, your kids tend to eventually grow, and their expensive designer duds become tighter and smaller, and the reality of hitting the real Beijing clothing world gets closer and closer, and eventually you just have to succumb.

Oh, the humanity!

Maybe I succumbed because Beijing taught me how utterly blind-sided we are by clothing prices in the West. Maybe it was actual real-life emergencies like when my daughter had no shoes that fit and her legs stuck out of her pants like Huck Finn. But I did it––I gradually began trawling the markets, the neighbourhood stores, the department stores and slowly, very slowly, amongst the Garfield tutus and Felix the Cat bomber jackets, I found some finds.

Were they designer finds? Maybe. Who knows? Even after four years in the capital and many a seasoned shopping expedition under my belt, the question of ‘real’ v ‘fake’ remains an unmitigated mystery only the Chinese market veterans will ever truly know. I could very well be sitting on a goldmine of real $9 Oilily frocks or $7.50 Valentino chinos, but does it really matter?

Shortly before leaving Beijing for Australia, the kids’ clothing situation (just like the capital and its post-Olympic infrastructure) had vastly improved. A spate of truly gorgeous kids’ shops and mainstream stores opened, all offering adorable and beautiful clothing, resplendent with quality and a decent price that hopefully filtered down to its local workers (and not a sequin or lace tuft in sight!).

Indeed, I was able to fill our out-bound suitcases with many a glorious bargain––and I’m happy to report I’m still unearthing items from the stash for my kids to wear, three years later. Whilst foraging through this stash recently, I retrieved the odd, kitsch, even bedazzled item that––I will admit––a part of me has grown somewhat fond of. So, I’m coming clean. Yes, Ella owns a pair of Betty Boop tracksuit pants and yes yes, Riley has a few pairs of polyester Chinese pyjamas.

The clothing snob in me still adores beautiful children’s clothing, but . . . shhh . . . if you close the curtains really tight to prevent the neighbours peeking in, there’s really nothing wrong with a little bedazzlement before midday. And all under $5 a pop.

Tania McCartney is an editor, presenter and book-obsessed author of both children’s and adult books. As an ACT Ambassador for the National Year of Reading 2012, she is passionate about literacy and children’s literature. Tania runs literary site Kids Book Review, writes for several online sites and loves paper, travel, marshmallows and laughing. Join the Beijing Tai Tai Virtual Book Tour here.

To find out more about Beijing Tai Tai by Tania McCartney ($24.99, published by Exisle Publishing) and to order the book online visit

For your chance to win a copy of Beijing Tai Tai simply answer the following question: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of China?

Submit your answer by leaving a comment below, your email address will not be published.

If you really want to win you can earn up to ten additional entries, please leave separate comments for each entry:

Competition ends May 10, 2012. Sorry, Australian entries only.