Review Blog

Feb 04 2013

Spinifex mouse by Norma MacDonald

cover image

Magabala. 2013. ISBN 978 1921248801
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Australian animals. Aboriginal themes. Cheeky the spinifex mouse loves to party. He loves to display his skills, whirling and twirling, somersaulting, and cartwheeling, showing off his skills to his brothers and sisters who were not nearly as agile as he. Each morning when his family returned from foraging for food, he sneaks out to practise his skills, but in moving further away from his burrow, puts himself in danger.
Both the brown snake and the eagle spy the little spinifex mouse as their next feed.
Cheeky stops by the spinifex grass and eats some of the seed left by the people who collect it to make damper, and while he is there the brown snake comes closer. Slowed down by the seeds in his belly, the mouse is almost taken by the snake, but the eagle swoops and has him in his talons. Luckily he is able to escape both predators and return to his burrow a wiser little animal.
The illustrations in line and water colour reflect the Australian desert environment, and will be enjoyed by younger readers, although several seemed oddly static.
The lessons taught by this parable are all too obvious and children will duck with Cheeky as the eagle swoops and tell Cheeky about the snake. They will love talking of near misses and what they should do in similar circumstances. They will easily learn much about the Australian bush and its occupants, and assimilate some lessons about the Aboriginal people who use the land.
Fran Knight

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