Review Blog

Nov 04 2014

The Monster who ate Australia by Michael Salmon

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Ford Street, 2014. Hb. ISBN 9781925000542. pbk. ISBN 9781925000559.
(Age: Pre-school - Yr 3) 'The boggabri is an extremely rare Australian mammal. Like its cousin the bunyip, it eats a lot and is very shy. But, unlike the bunyip, it has peculiar teeth that grow longer each day. To keep them trimmed, the boggabri chews rocks and other hard objects . . .'
Burra the boggabri lives peacefully at Uluru with nearby Kata Tjuta providing nice tasty rocks to eat that kept his teeth in shape. But as the tourists come in threatening his peace of mind and food supply, he is driven out looking for new fodder. And so begins his quirky journey around Australia, beginning with eating the America's Cup in Perth and continuing on to some of the nation's most recognisable man-made landmarks, unaware of the havoc he creates. Finally trapped in the thick gooey mud at the bottom of Sydney Harbour, trapped and placed on display in the elephant house at Taronga Zoo, Burra is viewed by many more tourists than those he ran away from . . .
This is the 30th anniversary edition of this Michael Salmon classic and it maintains all the appeal of the original as it takes its readers on a journey around Australia, introducing them to places, familiar and new. Michael Salmon recently visited Miss 8's school and she was so excited and engaged that she still tells me about it. You can imagine her thrill when she discovered that I had a collection of his books right here on the shelf and she spent hours reading them and immersing herself in the illustrations that are such an integral part of the stories, a reaction I often see when I suggest his stories to younger readers. Then I showed her his website which has always been my inspiration, and kerpow!!! My next surprise is to take her to the statue of Burra's cousin, Alexander Bunyip, who now stands outside the Gungahlin Library in Canberra after having eaten all the other city landmarks in The Monster that ate Canberra in 1972!
Michael Salmon's stories and artworks have delighted children for 40 years and I'm thrilled that publishers are re-releasing titles like The Monster who ate Australia so that yet another generation can enjoy them.
Barbara Braxton

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