Review Blog

Aug 15 2011

Bilby secrets by Edel Wignell and Mark Jackson

cover image

Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 978 1 921529 32 0.
(Ages 5+) Highly recommended. Picture book. The hostile environment of the Australian desert is captured in words and illustrations in this superior picture book, telling both a story and giving factual information about the rare Australian mammal, the bilby. The front endpaper introduces the reader to the bilby, an endangered mammal, living in very remote areas of Western Australia, and although rarely, if ever, seen in the wild, is beginning to replace the rabbit as the animal of choice at Easter.
The story begins with the female bilby finding her burrow to wait for the birth of her baby. The next few pages tell us of the development of the baby bilby, how it grows and survives, eventually coming out of the pouch to remain in the burrow while mother hunts. Mother then goes off foraging for feed, storing it in her cheeks to return to the young bilby. When it is ready to leave the nest it goes out into the night, mindful of the dangers present, an owl, a fox, a snake. The story follows the routines of their lives, while elsewhere on each page is information about the bilby. The story itself has no unecessary words, each sentence tells the reader something about the bilby and its survival, about the environment in which it lives, while the information, given in a different font, presents it in more factual terms.
This wonderful story of the bilby makes an entrancing tale to tell younger readers and an informative text for older readers. The words are evocative and precise, while the illustrations, giving a sweeping view of the little space the bilby occupies are majestic. While this is a beautiful story to read to a class, it is also an information book with an index at the back for student use. it will make a wonderful beginning text in a classroom where students are being introduced to information books, indexes and research. Creative non-fiction at its best.
Fran Knight

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