Review Blog

Jul 31 2012

The paddock by Lilith Norman

cover image

Ill. by Robert Roenfeldt. Walker Books Australia, 2012. ISBN 9781 921977 70 1
(Ages: all) Recommended. Picture book. Environment. Another in the fine series of reprints Walker Books is publishing of award winning picture books from Australia and New Zealand, The Paddock was first published in 1992, several years after Jeannie Baker's Window, which is very similar in theme.
Where Window showed the changes in time in a small area, The paddock shows changes from the very beginnings of time, making this book an outstanding look at our environment and how it has changed over millennia. At the start, we are treated through Norman's sparse, but evocative words and Roenfeldt's understated illustrations, to the very beginnings of time, as the rock and lava made its way through the cooling crust of the earth. Later animals are shown roaming the earth, different generations of animal and plant life replacing that before them, then the indigenous peoples, supplanted later on by European explorers and settlers. Each successive generation is shown wreaking more and more destruction on the land, until, the paddock is sour, dark and dead beneath all the development. But the earth rebels against the over use and turns itself back into the paddock as storms undermine the development and the towns and cities are swallowed up by the forests. Today's readers will have little hesitation in comparing this book with Baker's Window and the many other similar books which they will have seen in their library. At the end of the book are pages of interviews with the original publisher, Dr Mark McLeod, and the author and illustrator, all of which gives a greater insight into why this book has been republished.
This not so subtle message will be well received by today's readers, more aware of their environment and wanting to be part of the green changes which are occurring to help rectify what we have done.
Fran Knight

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