The Last Dance, by Sally Morgan

Hidden by autumn leaves
He sleeps
And dreams of his last dance.

Everyone needs a home, but for some Australian animals, those homes are disappearing, under threat by human actions. If their habitats are destroyed, these animals may die out too. The Last Dance addresses this subject in a form which is both honest and beautiful.

Each spread presents one animal which is threatened, names it and in a three lined verse highlights its plight. There is no wordy discussion or analysis – the text names the perils faced by each new animal, using a single evocative image to highlight that peril – the corroboree frog (above text) dreaming his last dance, the numbat fearful of foxes and the dugong escaping fishermen. Back of book notes, in a double page spread, elaborate a little more, but the message is clear – these animals are endangered, and its is only humans who can do something about the problem.

Illustrations are similalry evocative, filling each spread with colour and detail, again focusiing on the animal’s plight. A central image spans the spread, and a border frames the page with four additional images of the animal in focus marking each corner, looking in to the central image.

The subject matter here is confronting because it is important, but the use of poetic text and beautiful illustrations makes it palatable, inviting discussion. What an excellent way to introduce young readers to this important subject matter and, hopefully, inspire them to action.

The Last Dance

The Last Dance, by Sally Morgan
Little Hare, 2012
ISBN 978192171484

Available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond.