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An inspirational story about discovery, invention and the importance of dreams.

Sam likes to pull things apart and put them back together, and think about how things work. But he is sometimes so busy doing this, he forgets his chores on the family farm.

Then one day he creates something truly wonderful . . .

An inspirational story about discovery, invention and the importance of dreams.


A wonderful story about a child’s curiosity and inventiveness, a salute to anyone who has ever dismantled and then reassembled a childhood toy. Raewyn Caisley’s text is beautifully and engagingly rendered. Karen Blair’s illustrations likewise reflect the verve and optimism of the story’s protagonist, as well as the love and admiration of his parents.

Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature, Judges’ Comments

A gorgeous tale about how childhood really should be lived.


A gentle reminder to all of us that something wonderful exists within our imagination if we just take the time to explore and let our minds run free.


Raewyn Caisley’s first book with illustrator Karen Blair, Hello from Nowhere, took readers to the Australian Nullarbor to reveal the benefits of living in the middle of a desert. In Something Wonderful, the duo returns to show how growing up on a farm can offer kids something that the big, bustling city might not—time and space to learn about the world free from the constant lure of technology. Young Sam is distracted from his chores by the endless possibilities of the farm. Instead, he uses the things he learns from playing outdoors—chasing feathers in the wind, climbing trees, pondering raindrops—to invent something useful and, as it happens, wonderful! In her dedication, Caisley reveals Sam is based on an acquaintance who grew up in a small country town in WA and became a physicist. Blair’s gentle pencil-and-watercolour illustrations charmingly evoke Australian country life, complementing Caisley’s story that harks back to a time when children were able to play without high-tech diversions and hovering parents. Ideal for children aged three to six years, Something Wonderful is a good tool for parents and teachers to encourage kids to turn off the TV, shut down the computer and think creatively.

Suzanne Garcia, Books + Publishing

Sam lives in the country – way out in the country where the air is fresh and clean and he and his dog have room to run and chase feathers, climb trees, spin around on the Hills Hoist and build things from all sorts of old stuff lying around. Pulling things apart and putting them back together is what he loves best – so much so that he sometimes forgets his chores like feeding the chooks, collecting the eggs and making sure the goat is in its paddock. This frustrates his dad who thinks he should be more focused, but his mum understands and knows that his distractedness mean a brain is very busy at work. For all that he seems to be playing, Sam is learning, learning, learning… One day while chasing a shadow across the paddocks it starts to rain and after momentarily stopping to think whether a raindrop is round, Sam makes a dash for shelter in the shed. And in the shed are all the bits and pieces that Sam needs to make … something wonderful. Raewyn Caisley and Karen Blair have once again combined to create something wonderful, their first since the delightful Hello from Nowhere (https://thebottomshelf.edublogs.org/2014/09/27/hello-from-nowhere/). The book is dedicated to the real-life Sam who now “works at a famous university in Europe, where he is trying to work out what is in-between the smallest things” and demonstrates that his mum was right – all that pulling apart and putting together, the curiosity, the wondering of it all was just the lead up to what he is doing now. So even though not all tinkerers will end up at “a famous university” those makerspaces we offer in city libraries could just be the breeding ground for a new Sam as they play and plan and dream… Just as Sam learns about pulling and pushing and pulleys (in the most hilarious way ever) so too could one of our students albeit it in a more artificial situation. Karen Blair’s illustrations are superb – you can feel the wind in your face and breathe the fresh country air, sense dad’s frustration and Sam’s sense of wonder – they are as wonderful as that which Sam creates. The final textless page and endpapers are divine! Threaded throughout the joy in this story (which shines through like a mother’s love) is a powerful message about the importance of play and discovery. THIS is what childhood is about – not academic competition and grades and being ICT savvy. Academic things should just be the means to an end – the vehicle on which children can make their own discoveries as they explore and explain and not only make sense of their world but make it better. A very serious contender for my favourite book for a while.

Barbara Braxton, OZTL Net

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 29, 2018

    Picture Puffin

    32 pages

    RRP $14.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Awards and Recognition

  • Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards
    3–5 Years
  • NSW Premier's Literary Awards
    Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children's Literature
  • CBCA Book of the Year Awards
    Notable Book
    Picture Book

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