The Great Cold, by Gladys Milroy

The Great Cold is coming,’ said Magpie as Crow shivered in her nest. ‘You must leave before it it’s too late.’
‘I know,’ Crow said fearfully, ‘but I can’t leave, I have an egg to look after.’
‘Then you and your baby will freeze,’ said Magpie sadly, and with a flap of his wings he left his friend and flew away.

Moon and Sun are fighting over their position in the sky and the earth is in danger of experiencing a cold so intense it will kill everything on earth. Magpie is torn. She knows there is a good chance she will perish if she doesn’t seek shelter with the other animals. But she can’t abandon her nest, because she sitting on her egg. She is the last of the animals, the others all taking shelter deep in a cave that will be sealed to keep the cold out. She carries her nest with her and makes the difficult journey to the cave. Goanna helps her, but there is a cost.

The Great Cold is a new story but it has the feel of an ancient one. It is mystical and yet seems real. The characters are concerned with survival and earthly things, but there is exploration of the nature of collaboration, friendship and trust. The Great Cold is an early chapter book for newly-confident readers. It is part of a new series, ‘Waarda’ from Fremantle Press designed to support the literacy needs of Indigenous children in primary school. Each title is written by an Indigenous author. Cover design and internal black and white images show the Indigenous influence too. But this, and other title in the series, will be enjoyed by a wide range of new readers. It’s just a great story. Recommended for newly-independent readers.

The Great Cold (Waarda, Nyungar)

The Great Cold, Gladys Milroy
Fremantle Press 2009
ISBN: 9781921361586

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review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author