Cocky is a young Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and he’s rather proud of his snowy white feathers and his fine yellow crest. He likes a party and a joke and really isn’t taking much account of others around him. When other birds around him are keen to settle in to sleep, he wants to party on. When they ignore him, he decides to play a trick that will wake them for sure. So he pretends he is being attacked by a dingo. Well, that certainly wakes the flock and they hurry to his aid. A great joke! It works so well that he repeats the trick the following night with similar success. The other birds are now seriously cross with him and when on the third night, as in ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, his call for aid is real and urgent, they are reluctant to respond. He’s in a bind and only narrowly escapes, sacrificing some of his prized crest. He is suitably chastened, and has a temporarily diminished beauty to remind him of his near escape.
The Cocky Who Cried Dingo is a new take on a traditional tale and brings Australian birds into play the roles otherwise played by a boy, a village and a wolf. But the message loses nothing in translation. Yvonne Morrison’s rhyming yarn rolls easily off the tongue as the story moves to a familiar conclusion. Heath McKenzie uses torn paper as his backgrounds, using different shapes and depths of colour to convey emotion. His slightly manic but beautiful birds look capable of most anything, particularly as their sleep is yet again disturbed. Children will join in the refrain with Cocky, waiting to see what will happen when the dingo is real. Cocky is taught a lesson, and is duly chastened, but less the reader think he is totally reformed, McKenzie provides a final cheeky image. Recommended for early-primary readers.
The Cocky Who Cried Dingo, Yvonne Morrison, ill Heath McKenzie
2010 ISBN: 9781921541421
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author
This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.