Review Blog

Feb 01 2017

Elvira and the Pilliga mouse by Pat Clarke

cover image

Ill. by Graeme Compton. Little Steps, 2016. ISBN 9781925117981
(Age: 7-9) Recommended. Pat Clarke's Elvira and the Pilliga mouse is a junior novel that explores the themes of endangered Australian animals, survival and the impact of feral animals on the native animal population. Graeme Compton's detailed paint and ink illustrations add a dynamic element to the story. He brings the characters to life, showing their emotions and responses in Clarke's adventures of Elvira the wedge-tailed eagle who is one of the stars of the Taronga Zoo Bird Show. She majestically swoops down over the audience each day as the final act. Elvira is a survivor, rescued from a forest fire that ravaged her home, the Goonoo Forest in NSW leaving only her father alive. The young eagle began her recuperation at Dubbo Zoo, and then sent on to Taronga to continue her recovery.
When a mini-tornado swirls through Taronga Zoo one afternoon, Elvira is transported away from her zoo home to the base of the Blue Mountains. A boobook owl encourages her to begin a quest to find out if her father is still alive back in Goonoo Forest. Along the way, Elvira rescues a wounded schoolboy, building a large nest to protect him from the weather, as well as directing the rescuers to his location. While her old injuries prevent her from flying long distances, she takes her time and cleverly uses the signs to Dubbo Zoo to direct her flight path.
Unfortunately, instead of a welcome, Elvira lands on a tree in Monkey Island, frightening the screeching animals, and similar disturbances occur throughout the animal enclosures. Quickly flying away from her former friends, she lands on a farm at the edge of the forest. This is fortuitous as she meets Egbert the rooster who has very exciting information for her. Most importantly, Elvira flies Pookie one of the last Pilliga mice back to the forest and saves a rare species.
Resilience, hope, friendship and determination are some of the characteristics Elvira the wedge-tail eagle demonstrates. Elvira and the Pilliga mouse is a resource that supports the Year 2 and 3 Science Curriculum - developing the learners' understandings of the environment's role in the survival of living things, to understand the human impact on living things and to develop dialogues about ways to protect living things.
Rhyllis Bignell

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