Review Blog

Jan 07 2015

Aussie wildlife poems for kids and the young at heart by John McColgan and Becky Roberts

cover image

Self-published by Becky Roberts, Clontarf, 2014
It gives me the greatest pleasure to share this delightful 'home-grown' book with you. That's right, direct to you from Paradise aka the beautiful Redcliffe peninsula; a father and daughter team have produced this tribute to our native fauna, especially for smaller humans. They are, respectively, the granddad and mum of a lovely bubbly young friend with whom I taught here some years ago - and they are a very talented and creative family.
When John McColgany's children were young, he wrote some poems about Aussie animals for them, wanting to share his love and respect for our fauna. He hoped to have enough for a little book some day but grew discouraged by his efforts and gave it up. Fast forward to fifty years later when his artist daughter, Becky, persuaded him to have another go. The result is a quite lovely collection of original poems which share the author's fondness for our native creatures, of all types, and a respect for their attributes, with just a little information, some humour and even warning about some dangers. All beautifully illustrated with Becky's skilled and imaginative watercolour (and ink) paintings.
As well as koalas and kangaroos, quolls and quokkas, Tasmanian devils and dingos, little fellas like the Bleating Tree Frog are included (I have the most gorgeous big one who lives on my patio!) - and there are two wonderfully whimsical poems about the Yowie and the Bunyip - plus (yes, I know you want more!) a final piece about 'weather warnings' from various animals.
Small and I both enjoyed looking at the pictures and sharing some of the poems. Of course, with her new baby blue tongue curled up in her arms, her stand out favourite is The Blue-Tongue Lizard, which begins:

A well-known sight in Eastern states
Is our Blue-Tongue Lizard friend
He's only seen in warmer months
Well after winter's end.

You'll often find him warming up
Basking in the sun
He might look savage, but he's not
He's friends with everyone! ...

We also both love The Pelican, as these birds are so synonymous with Redcliffe and we love to play our game of 'count the pelicans' as we drive across the bridge, to or from the other side of town.
I believe this is a worthy addition not only to your home bookshelf but for the school library where I can see it being well used for those units focused on Australian Animals. Children will enjoy the rhymes as well as the illustrations and could 'springboard' to writing some poems of their own around their animal of choice.
Well done to both John and Becky on a great collaboration!
Find the book:
On Etsy
On FaceBook
On Becky's website PortfolioPics

P.S. I might add that John is about to celebrate his 84th birthday - what a great way to celebrate with a newly published book!
Sue Warren

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