Mrs Echidna's Dilemma
An Award Winning Children's Book
Mrs Echidna's Dilema by Betty Johnson

Great news! Mrs Echidna's Dilemma won an IPPY (Independent Publishers) award from USA in May 2011. The second edition of this book, released 26th September 2011, contains updated information from recognised echidna research scientist Dr Peggy Rismiller OAM.

Mrs Echidna's Dilemma is a children's story (suitable for 3-8 years) with broad appeal. Educators are drawn to the animal science within an integrated literacy unit, while quilters and embroiderers are fascinated by the hand-stitched illustrations.

The story, written and illustrated by Betty Johnston, was first embroidered on companion quilts. The tactile nature of the original art work is maintained in the book by embossing on the pages - the children can feel the contours of the animals and environments encountered. The children's involvement in the story is further encouraged by the inclusion of a DVD, and also patterns for you to make finger-puppets of Australian animals. Children love them!

The questions that inevitably arise as you read the story, such as: ‘How does a kookaburra find its food? What do you call a baby echidna? Where does a platypus live? Why is the blue-tongue on the rock?' are all answered on the opposing pages, which give additional information to extend knowledge and understanding of these unique creatures.

Although the tale was initially written for young children, the illustrations are a great source of inspiration for their parents and grandparents! The story quilt was hand-stitched in ‘stump work', or three-dimensional embroidery, using a wide variety of textures, threads and stitches - each panel features a different technique. The companion quilt was hand-worked in a modern adaptation of ‘black-work'... it's a bit like sketching, but with a needle and thread!

Due to popular demand we have created a series of embroidery patterns based on the book, you can find out more about the packs and buy them here or at quality needlecraft suppliers across Australia.

Easy to complete pattern packs are also available for early childhood education resources, including finger puppet sets and more immersive story dioramas. These resources have been tested with success in an early learning setting. You can purchase the pattern packs here.

I would like to thank Betty for presenting at our Book Week Family Night. The school community enjoyed hearing about the process an author goes through to produce and have a book published. Students are still asking for and enjoying Mrs Echidna's Dilemma.
We love 'Mrs Echidna's Dilemma'.  Your art is amazing!  We had a very good time and we hope you did too.  Thankyou for the puppets and for coming.
Amy and Takoda
Year 3 Students
Betty has presented literacy workshops to Under-Graduate and Graduate students in Early and Primary Years at the University of the Sunshine Coast...  She is a very talented and passionate educator, and I recommend her highly to school principals, parent's groups, and anyone interested in furthering the power of language, literacy and literature in classrooms.
Carol Smith
Lecturer, USC

News & Events

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31 May and 5th June 2013
Juvenile echidnas will travel up to 40 km to establish their own ranging area.  Our 'Mrs Echidna' recently travelled much further, visiting schools in Far North Queensland - at Mt Surprise (4 hours west of Cairns) and South Johnstone (1 1/2 hrs south of Cairns).  What a privilege to share with students from P-7 in these country schools!
Grade 3 Literacy class.
It's great to get feedback from teachers, showing how they have used 'Mrs Echidna's Dilemma' in literacy classes, and used it to extend the children's interests in other areas.  Many schools were visited during 'Bookweek' - and now some have sent photos of the children's work after the visit.
Educational Workshops for 3-8 yr olds

With 'Book Week' in August, Betty conducted workshops in  a variety of educational facilities.  Betty has programs adapted to needs of children from Kindergarten to Grade 4 level, plus a program for ESL students.