Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine by Aleesah Darlison and Shane McGrath

I am the last of my kind.

This I know.

Once, we roamed the land.

We owned the land.

We called it Home.

I am the last of my kind.

This I know.

Once, we roamed the land.

We owned the land.

We called it Home.

Stripes in the Forest is told in first person from the perspective of the last remaining Thylacine. Her story begins as she first encounters man. She watches cautiously and with growing concern as the white man and his firesticks decimate not just Thylacine populations but those of other native animals. She retreats to more remote forest to keep her young safe. When at last they are ready to leave her, she worries about their survival. There is a note of hope at the end that somewhere, deep in the forests, other Thylacines endure. A final page offers Thylacine facts. Illustrations offer a lush world full of hiding places for animals fleeing white men. Extras include a faux sticker that reminds the reader that it is 80 years since the Thylacine was rendered extinct.

Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine is a chilling and compelling story. Words and images work together well to evoke both the silence and voice of this final Thylacine. The brief text allows the reader to immerse themselves in the story and to ‘walk’ with the animals. Stripes in the Forest provides rich material for discussion at home and in the classroom and the note of hope invites speculation about if and where survivors may be hiding. A thoughtful blend of fact and fiction. Recommended for lower primary readers.

Stripes in the Forest: The Story of the Last Wild Thylacine, Aleesah Darlison ill Shane McGrath
Big Sky Publishing 2016
ISBN: 9781925275711

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

The Dream of the Thylacine, by Margaret Wild & Ron Brooks

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

The Dream of the Thylacine, by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks
Allen & Unwin, 2011
ISBN 9781742373836

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.

Blacky Blasts Back, by Barry Jonsberg

I took a step nearer the bed.
‘Blacky?’ I breathed.
‘Who were you expecting, bucko? Barack Obama?’
I turned on the bedside light.
A small, scruffy, dirty-white dog sat on my pillow. It looked at me through pink-rimmed eyes.
‘Watcha, mush,’ said the dog.

All the bad boys from Marcus’s school are off to Tasmania for an army-style camp, to teach them some discipline and team working skills. Marcus is not one of the bad boys (even though his best mate Dylan is), but he desperately needs to go on that camp – because Blacky, the talking dog has ordered him off on a new mission, to track down and rescue the last Tasmanian tiger.

It’s bad enough that Blacky is a talking dog – but he also stinks, and is very bossy. Soon Marcus is off in the wilds of Tasmania doing Blacky’s bidding at the same time he needs to evade a bully out to get him, and a mad Scotsman camp leader. With plenty of silliness mixed with some action and even some issues including bullying, mateship and conservation, there’s a lot happening here – which is why primary aged readers will love it.

This is the third story featuring Marcus and Blacky, but happily stands alone for those new to the series.

Blacky Blasts Back: On the Tail of the Tassie Tiger, by Barry Jonsberg
Allen & Unwin, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Last Thylacine, by Terry Domico

When Matthew Clark sees a thylacine during a research expedition in the Tasmanian forest, he is excited. The thylacine is, after all, supposed to be extinct. But Matthew’s excitement turns to frustration when he is sacked from his job and unable to follow up on his sighting with more research.

Matthew is determined to find another thylacine and is able to put together a team, funded by a private collector who will pay millions for the live capture of one of the animals. But Matthew must decide if his scruples will allow to him to be involved in such a scheme.

The Last Thylacine is an eco-thriller, with the action concentrating on Matthew and his team’s efforts to track and capture a thylacine. There are also explorations of themes of environmental responsibility, relationships and mateship. It is perhaps unfortunate that the absorbing nature of the plot is detracted from by the distraction of some editing problems. Whilst things like the misspelling of the Australian word cuppa as cupper and the overdone use of inverted commas and underlining to emphasise words may seem small, they are very distracting and take away from what is otherwise a story worthy of proper treatment.

The Last Thylacine, by Terry Domico
Turtleback Books, 2005

Infamous, by Justin D'Ath

Tim is desperate to put the town of Daffodil on the map. Things aren’t looking good for the future of the town, and if it doesn’t pick up, more people will leave. Especially Tim’s best friend Greer and her mum.

Then Tim has a great idea. If a thylacine was spotted in the town, lots of people would come to see it. So, all he has to do is make one. Tim turns his dog Elvis into a Thylacine. When it is spotted, it looks like Tim’s plan has worked. The town is packed with visitors and bounty-hunters.

Everything looks good, until Tim and Greer realise that Elvis isn’t the only Thylacine in town. Could there be a genuine thylacine? And if there is, how can Tim save it from the bounty-hunters?

Infamous is a fun junior novel from talented children’s author, Just D’Ath. With loads of humour and silliness, it also deals with themes of friendship, honesty and conservation.

A great read.

Thylacine, by David Owen

The Tasmanian Devil, or Thylacine, once inhabited most of Australia. By the time of white settlement it was limited to the island state of Tasmania. Then as the human population of the island grew, the world’s largest marsupial predator was deliberately hunted to extinction through ignorance, fear and greed. Yet even today, many Australians, including scientists, claim to have seen the Thylacine, alive and well.

Thylacine: The Tragic Tale of the Tasmanian Tiger tells the tragic story of how false beliefs and lack of care led to the extinction of the animal which has since become the logo of the state which eradicated it and a symbol of the conservation movement world-wide.

With a mix of scientific fact, recount and photographic evidence, Thylacine is both educational and enlightening, and highly accessible to the reader.

Thylacine: The Tragic Tale of the Tasmanian Tiger, by David Owen
Allen & Unwin, 2003

I Saw Nothing, by Gary Crew & Mark Wilson

Rosie lives in 1930s Tasmania, with her father, a timber cutter, and family. Although they are in wild country, Rosie and her family are happy and safe.

One day, though, a fur trapper who Rosie fear- Elias Churchill – comes to the camp, looking for her father. When her father returns, he takes Rosie with him to see Churchill at the railway station. There, while her father is off talking to the trapper, Rosie sees what Chrichill is up to. In a train carriage she sees a thylacine, caged and ready to be sent to Hobart Zoo. Churchill has trapped it and sold it. Rosie is saddened to see the wild animal, hurt and scared.

Several years later, Rosie goes to see the thylacine in the Hobart Zoo. She learns that it is possibly the last thylacine alive. When it dies, she wonders if she could have done something to save it, and perhaps the whole species, by helping it when it was trapped and frightened in the train.

I Saw Nothing is a story which educates rather than uplifts. With an important message about conservation, and protection of endangered species, its use of a child character makes it accessible to younger readers.

The illustrations of Mark Wilson, contrasting the rich and peaceful greens of the bush with the dank colours of disaster and images of the thylacine, are an integral part of the message.

This is an outstanding book, perfect for primary classrooms and for home collections.

I Saw Nothing: The Extinction of the Thylacine, by Gary Crew & Mark Wilson
Lothian, 2003