Far up north, clouds are gathering: thunderheads and rain clouds.
Rivers fill and break their banks,
And water swirls and roars down the empty riverbeds towards the lake.
Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre – is a dry salt lake in the centre of Australia. But once roughly every ten years heavy rains to the north fill the lake with water, awakening frogs and shrimp. carrying fish down creek beds, giving new life to parched plants, and bringing birds, including pelicans and ducks, to the lake to breed, feed and flourish. When the lake starts to dry out again the birds and their new young fly away and the other life returns to dormancy waiting for the next flood.
Desert Lake: The Story of Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre is a beautiful non-fiction book which brings the changing lake to lif through the combination of well-written text and stunning mixed media illustrations. The narrative text is complemented on each spread by the inclusion of facts, presented in a different font so that readers can read the story and facts separately, if desired. The illustrations show the diversity of the lake’s inhabitants and the lake itself through contrasts between the ochres and browns of the dry, and the greens and blues of the wet.
Par of the Nature Storybook series, Desert Lake is excellent both as an educational tool and for prib=vate enjoyment.
Desert Lake: The Story of Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre, by Pamela Freeman & Liz Anelli
Walker Books, 2016
Always looking for a meal.
Platypus is perpetual motion
– never still.
At dusk, Platypus leaves his sandy burrow and dives into the cool green pool. It is time for him to hunt and forage. As he dives, floats and swim, readers are taken along on his evening outing, all the way learning about this unqiue Australian animal. Alongside the story of this one platypus, there are platypus facts including physical features, diet, habitat and more.
The gentle text is informative, but is also poetic, with the feel of the nighttime meanderings. This is reinforced in the dusky colours of the mixed media illustrations. The platypus is realistically rendered, which makes him all the more endearing.
Part of Walker Books’ amazing Nature Storybooks series, Platypus is suitable for private enjoyment as well as classroom use.
Platypus, by Sue WHiting & Mark Jackson
Walker Books, 2015
Avalable from good bookstores and online.
Traces the life of a young bilby from its birth in a burrow beneath the ground, to being fully grown and living alone, ready to mate. Using the picture book format, the text focuses on one specific bilby, but recounts this is a typical bilby’s life rather than a fictional story. Each page also includes facts about bilbies, printed in italics.
In the moonlight, Mother Bilby canters – tail aloft like a banner – across the spinifex and enters a steeply sloping, spiral tunnel. She flings the dirt back, hind feet together, closing the entrance to her burrow.
It’s time for the birth of her baby.
Bilby Secrets traces the life of a young bilby from its birth in a burrow beneath the ground, to being fully grown and living alone, ready to mate. Using the picture book format, the text focuses on one specific bilby, but recounts this is a typical bilby’s life rather than a fictional story. Each page also includes facts about bilbies, printed in italics.
Mark Jackson’s mixed media illustrations bring not just the cute bilby, but also other desert residents – from predators such as the fox, to insects and spiders, little details which can be found on most spreads. the colours are the colours of the West Australian Pilbara region – orange and red dirts, blue and dusky skies (the bilby is nocturnal) and, of course, the greys of the bilbies.
This hardcover offering is part of Walker’s wonderful new <>Nature Storybook series, set to be a wonderful educational tool but equally suitable for home reading.
Bilby Secrets, by Edel Wignell & Mark Jackson
Walker Books, 2011
This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.