When I was in Grade 6, I did a huge individual research project on Australian animals. Australian animals seemed so wild and unusual to me. There were the commonly listed ones like kangaroos, koala bears and wombats. But there were also many lesser known creatures like the kookaburra, the bandicoot and the spotted quoll. Back then, I loved the names (and would repeat them out loud over and over) and how so many of these creatures were only found in Australia. Now, I also think about what kind of creatures can survive in the dry habitat that covers much of this continent.
I was instantly drawn to this title about red kangaroos as it provided literally a “day in the life” kind of experience – red kangaroo style.
Big Red Kangaroo written by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne (first published by Walker Books Australia in 2013, first U.S. edition 2015 by Candlewick Press)
What stood out for me?
- the illustrations are so unique. Dry, dust seems to float off the page. I feel like I am under a hot sun, staring at wide expanse of dry grass, with little green.There is absolute mood in these pictures. Action, drama under the hot Australian sun. Limited colours and striking lines.
- the text is a combination of a narrative account and information on each double page spread – read just the “story” or read both story and additional facts shared
- the narrative part of the book is descriptive and a compelling text – detailing one night in the life of a male red kangaroo. The language is rich:
“Around them the night orchestra begins. Red rises and leads his mob beyond the shadow line in search of grasses.”
- a sense of how a kangaroo really spends a day – in a mob, defending territory, resting in the hottest part of the day, searching for scarce food and water.
- additional information in the back of the book and an index of specific terms
After reading this book, i had a much more clear picture of life for a red kangaroo. I now want to see all of my favourite Australian animals featured in a book by Saxby and Byrne. When I did a little research, I discovered Emu was published by Walker books in 2014 and will be released in North American in late April! I will be adding this title to my collection as well. Here is a little more detail about both books on Byrne’s blog.
Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2015. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!