Review Blog

Apr 13 2010

Koala: The real story by Dr Mark Norman

cover image

black dog books, 2010. ISBN 978 1742031309.
(Age: Junior primary: Non fiction text). Recommended. From the enticing picture on the front cover, to the bandaged animal on the last page, the information Dr Mark Norman expounds in this book is stimulating and refreshing. Each double page is full of life, with photos of mainly sleeping koalas taken from all angles, alongside concise pieces of information. The facts, told in a chatty style, are most accessible to a younger audience: new words are given in bold print, their pronunciation following in parentheses: at the bottom of some of the pages is a smaller fact box comparing a child's life to that of the koala, adding a bit of fun to the non fiction text. Most of the photos are of koalas sleeping, because, after all, that is what they do most of the day, and it is fascinating to actually read about why they sleep so much.
Double page spreads are about particular topics, and these range from Awkward acrobats, Amazing birth, Bringing up baby to Koalas and climate change. The whole is served well with a succinct glossary, giving the reader meanings for some of the new words found in the text, and an index, teaching younger readers where to go when requiring information in the text. I was disappointed with the map showing where koalas live, as the text mentions Kangaroo Island and South Australia, but does not show it on the map, but an astute teacher will have a large map of Australia in the classroom to rectify this omission.
A delightful and charming expose of the inactive lives of the koala, the icon of Australian animals, told in a chatty and inviting style, brimming with accurate and up to the minute information, this book will be a hit with primary aged children. Dr Mark Norman is senior curator at Museum Victoria and well known for his books on life in the sea (The octopuses' garden: The Secret World under the Sea, The Penguin Book: Birds in suits, The Antarctica Book: Living in the freezer, The Shark Book: Fish with attitude and The Great Barrier Reef Book: Solar Powered) which have won accolades from the Children's Book Council of Australia and the Wilderness Society.
Fran Knight

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