Three spine-tingling wails pierced the night air. ‘Beach stone-curlew,’ I murmured, huddling closer to Mum.
A warm, salty gust blasted my face and waves crashed on the shore ahead. The people in front of us whispered, their voices ghostlike in the dark.
‘Everyone ready?’ asked the ranger, Shane, as our group of twenty hurried after him along the track. Shoes shuffled across the coarse sand.
Ten-year-old Isaac and his mother live south of Bundaberg in Queensland, where his mum manages The Pines Holiday Village, a council-owned caravan park. Since Dad is no longer around, Isaac helps his mum as much as he can. In between, he’s a huge fan of the local wildlife, particularly the turtles. Now there’s a full moon and turtles are coming ashore to lay eggs on the beach where they were born. But as well as too much work and not enough time to spend with his friends or the turtles, there are grumpy bloggers, dogs and cats to contend with. Isaac has his work cut out to keep the turtle nests safe until the eggs hatch and a new generation of turtles can make their first journey safely to the sea.
Isaac is doing it tough. He’s lost his dad, his mum is working too hard and no one seems to appreciate how hard he’s trying to keep everyone happy. This is Samantha Wheeler’s third title featuring young characters working to save iconic Australian animals. Each includes a fast-paced adventure and information about animals and the challenges they face for survival in the environment they share with humans. The bright covers on these fictional but also informative novels are very engaging. Recommended for mid-primary readers
Turtle Trackers, Samantha Wheeler UQP 2018 ISBN: 9780702259951
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller
The shark with the glinting, pointy teeth saw Turtle.
The octopus with the dangly, stretchy tentacles saw Turtle.
As Turtle makes her way across the sea, the reader is asked ‘Who saw Turtle?’ giving an element of interaction to this delightful tale of a turtle travelling to lay her eggs. The illustrations, too, are interactive, encouraging both prediction and a close examination to see previous animals repeated.
Who Saw Turtle is beautiful picture book offering from Ros Moriarity, with indigenous artwork from the Balarinji studio. Together with The Rainbow, it offers both simple text and rich visuals, perfect for very young students and second language learners.
An important inclusion in both books is a back of book translation of the text into the Yanyuwa language, spoken by families in Borroloola, in the Northern Territory. Such use of traditional language is vital not just for the speakers of that language, but for promoting Australia-wide awareness of the existence and importance of the many languages of our first peoples.
In paperback format, this pair will be enjoyed for its simple, engaging text and rich, bright illustrations.
Who Saw Turtle? ISBN 9781760297800
The Rainbow, ISBN 9781760297794
both by Ros Moriarty, illustrated by Balarinji
Allen & Unwin, 2018
I’ve got the Blue Whale Blues,
I’ve got the Blue Whale,
BLUE WHALE BLUES.
Whale is singing the blues. He’s sad because he doesn’t know which was the bike he found goes. Luckily his good friend Penguin is there to help him turn it up the right way. But with that problem fixed, Whale finds another, and another. Finally comes the biggest problem of all, when the friends set out to ride thier ‘bike’ and discover that it isn’t a bike at all, but an abandoned shopping trolley.
Blue Whale Blues is a humorous story about friendship and imagination which will have youngsters laughing out loud – and probably telling Whale and Penguin of their mistake long before they realise it for themsleves, with a little help from their friend Turtle. The repeated refrain will encourage them to join in singing the Blue Whale Blues, and the illustrations, using watercolour, collage and digital techniques, will delight.
Lots of fun for preschoolers but adults will smile too.
Blue Whale Blues, by Peter Caranavas
New Frontier, 2015