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Once upon a time in Australian Winter: New children’s book with grown-up twist

It may be the middle of winter, but spring has sprung early for Queensland’s newest novelist who has just published her first children’s book – aptly named Winter to Spring in the Australian Bush.

Roz Berg – a Creative Arts student at the University of Southern Queensland – has made the most of her recent assessment (and the changing seasons), using the opportunity to fulfil a lifelong dream.

“I’ve always wanted to write a children’s book and what better timing,” Ms Berg said.

“I was able to submit the book as part of my university studies and I couldn’t be more thrilled.”

Inspired by her childhood, growing up near a billabong on a bush property on the outskirts of Ipswich, Ms Berg set out to tell the tale of Australia’s cooler seasons.

Albeit childlike and beautiful, with its colourful illustrations and simple rhyming format, the book has a sombre message at its core, portraying the often devastating effects of drought on native wildlife:

“Possy Possum looks for food
But there’s hardly any to be found
Sometimes he feels so hungry
His tummy grumbles really loud”

- Page 19, Winter to Spring in the Australian Bush

“I think it’s important for Australian children to understand what’s going on in their backyards – the beauty and the hardships that occur there,” Ms Berg said.

The 61-year-old mother hand painted each illustration, which includes more than 50 animals ranging from emus and echidnas to grasshoppers and frilled-necked lizards.

“Illustrations are incredibly important for young readers,” Ms Berg said.

“They allow children to identify with the characters and better understand the story; particularly when it’s a tough subject matter like drought.”

According to University of Southern Queensland wildlife expert, Dr Ben Allen, winter is the driest and hardest survival season for native animals.

“Winter is a time of hibernation for many animals,” Dr Allen said.

“But like humans, wildlife can succumb to frostbite and hypothermia; and during the dry season, many struggle to find water.”

“Understanding the seasons and learning about the weather at a young age will help kids become aware of their impact on the environment.”

Luckily, no winter lasts forever – and as Possy the Possum discovers in Ms Berg’s book, spring is just around the corner.

“Possy Possum finds an apple
He munches it to the core
When he’s finished eating
He isn’t hungry any more”

- Page 33, Winter to Spring in the Australian Bush

Winter to Spring in the Australian Bush is available at the USQ Book Shop and via Roz Berg - Author on Facebook.

woman reading book
Queensland author Roz Berg has been praised by wildlife researchers after publishing her first children’s novel: Winter to Spring in the Australian Bush.