One day Emu was out flying when he spotted a strange tree growing high on top of a large hill. The tree had two long branches, no leaves, and a thick trunk covered in bright red bark.
‘Oh, this is exciting,’ said Emu, I’ve never seen a tree like that before.’ And he flew down to have a closer look.
‘Emu and the Water Tree’ comes from a time when Emus could still fly and animals could talk to one another. Emu finds Serpent in the base of a tree with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of fresh, clean water. He does a deal with Serpent and continues to enjoy the water. It is some time before he realises that while the water in the tree continues, the land around is drying out, the creeks and waterholes empty. It’s only then that he realises his selfishness and the cost of a deal with Serpent. He has to make decisions then.
Emu and the Water Tree is a new offering in the WAARDA series for young readers from Fremantle Press. It brings traditional and new indigenous tales to a wide readership. Black and white illustrations break up the text in these first chapter books, making them perfect for newly independent readers. Emu is curious and foolish, and Serpent is cunning and convincing in a story that works on many levels. Recommended for all newly independent young readers, or for anyone wanting to access traditional tales.
Emu and the Water Tree, Gladys Milroy
Fremantle Press 2012
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author