Some books are so exquisitely perfect that it seems almost impossible to review them. The Dream of the Thylacineis one such book – sending shivers of delight up this reviewer’s spine.
With minimal text and a combination of photographic stills and full spread acrylic art, the tale of the last thylacine – and the tragedy of its caged existence – is brought to life in a dramatic blend of beauty and pathos.
Text spreads combine still shots of the last known thylacine trapped in a cage in the Hobart Zoo in 1937 with poetic text in the thylacine’s voice telling of his feelings of being trapped and his memories or dreams of his previous life. The three spreads which follow each of these bear no text, instead showing the thylacine in its natural environment living those dreams – running through forests, standing on cliff tops and more. The final spreads show the thylacine finally sleeping, curled up as part of the landscape. A back of book note tells readers that the thylacine is now extinct, in spite of a slim hope that there are surviving creatures somewhere in the Tasmanian wilderness.
Truly a thing of beauty, The Dream of the Thylacine is a book to be savoured, examined, shared and treasured both at home and in the classroom. What more can I say?
The Dream of the Thylacine, by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks
Allen & Unwin, 2011
This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.