Harry’s perfect life was straying way off track. he looked pleadingly at Mum. Surely she could see? Spending an entire weekend tramping around stinking-hot snake-filled scrub was a horrible mistake. But doing it without a phone? That was just brutal.
Harry is not happy. Not only has his mum moved him from his comfortable life in Sydney to live in Perth, but now she’s agreed to spend the weekend hiking in the bush with her old friend Ana, and her daughter Deepika. There are snakes, and spiders and insects in the bush – and, worst of all, no mobile phones allowed. Well, not for Harry, anyway. Mum seems to be the only one allowed to have her phone. She says it’s in case of emergencies, but Harry knows she’ll be using it every chance she gets. Out on the Bibbulmun Track, his worst fears are realised – there really are snakes and spiders. And every time they are in range, Mum has her phone out. Then, just when he starts to enjoy himself, Harry discovers that things really can go wrong out in the bush.
Off the Track highlights the Australian outdoors, and especially Western Australia’s iconic Bibbulmun Track, in a pleasing blend of adventure and self-discovery. Many young readers will relate to Harry’s dismay of being ‘forced’ to live without every day conveniences like flushing toilets, beds, and technology. Others will love the outdoors setting and the taste of hiking the story offers.
Gripping junior fiction.
Off the Track, by Cristy Burne
Fremantle Press, 2018
Wombat stared in surprise at the other animals.
Am I special after all?
When Wombat emerges from his tunnel, his friends are really glad to see him, but as Wombat watches them celebrate he feels sad. Each of his friends is good at something: Goanna is the fastest climber, Magpie is the best singer and Dingo is the cleverest dancer. Wombat wants to go back and hide in his tunnel, but his friends run after him to remind him that he, too, is good at things, and best of all, that Wombat is their friend.
A Feast for Wombat is a gentle tale of friendship and self belief. While Wombat wants to be like his friends, he seems unaware that each of them is different, as is he. His friends’ reminder of his own strengths is reassuring, and will reassure young readers, too.
The acrylic illustrations bring the cast of Australian animals to life in gentle bush colours with lovely textured backgrounds, adding to the warm feel of the book.
A Feast for Wombat, by Sally Morgan & Tania Erzinger
Available from good bookstores or online.
Asleep in a gently snoozing ball
Little possum’s soft and small.
In a twisty tunnel and cosy bed
Little wombat rests his head.
From possums and wombats to crocodiles and bats, the baby animals of the Australian bush settle down to sleep, until finally the young readers is reminded that when s/he settles down to sleep in bed, you’re not the only sleepy head.
Bushland Lullaby is a gentle bedtime read suitable for children from birth. In lyrical rhyme the text is like a soft song. It is perfectly complemented by the pastel watercolours and mixed media of the illustrations, with dusky pinks and blues prominent.
A lovely touch is the use of not only the predictable Australian animals – possums, wombats and echidnas – but also some probably less expected in a cuddly book – crocodiles, bats, even lizards. Another nice touch is that each illustration shows the baby animal either cuddled by a parent or with one close by, a reminder to young readers that they are watched over even while asleep.
This would make a treasured gift for a newborn.
Bushland Lullaby, by Sally Odgers & Lisa Stewart
Available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.