Hawkesbury Upton children’s author Betty Salthouse’s latest book is raising funds to help Australian animals affected by the devastating bushfires earlier this year.

Mother Koala Knows Best (And Other Australian Animal Stories) is a collection of charming short stories, each focusing on a particular Australian animal, from the ever-popular koala, kangaroo and wombat to the equally endearing but lesser-known numbat and lyre bird.

Each story is prefaced by a beautiful line-drawing of an Australian animal by Bristol illustrator Pip Westgate.

The stories are suitable for newly-independent readers or for sharing with a grown-up.

Betty’s stories draw on her first-hand knowledge of antipodean animals gained from two holidays in Australia. All profits from the book will be donated to WIRES, the leading Australian wildlife charity.

Betty has dedicated her book to family and to the 1st Hawkesbury Upton Brownies, where she has been a helper for many years.

Earlier this year the 1st HU Brownies raised funds for Australian wildlife, and Betty has presented each of them with a signed copy of Mother Koala Knows Best.

A retired primary school teacher, Betty is the author of three other animal stories for children: Parrot Talk, Cuckoo Call, and Animal Adventures at Rainbow Cottage. Betty says her inspiration was Dick King Smith, author of Babe and other modern classics for children.

“I had a lot of links with Dick King-Smith,” says Betty. “His son Giles was vicar at the church opposite the primary school where I taught in Bristol. His grandchildren went to our school, and Dick came into the school to read from his books to the children.

"Dick also went to the same teacher training college as me, St Matthias, (later part of Bristol Polytechnic, now UWE), although not at the same time.”

Betty taught in Yate in the seventies, and in Westerleigh Village School until it closed in 1984, before moving to a school in Bristol until she retired in 1995. This is her fifth book about animals for children. The others are "Parrot Talk", "Cuckoo Call", "The Fossil Hunters", and "Animal Adventures at Rainbow Cottage".

All of Betty’s books are available to buy as paperbacks and ebooks from Amazon, and the paperbacks may be ordered from bookshops, including the recently relaunched Cotswold Book Room in Wotton-under-Edge. They are also available from Hawkesbury Stores. Betty is now working on her next book about a bear’s adventures in China.

To see more about WIRES, visit bit.ly/2HgENBi