Review Blog

Oct 24 2019

Clancy the quokka by Lili Wilkinson

cover image

Illus. by Alison Mutton. Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760634711.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Quokka, Verse, Food, Western Australia, Picnics. In four lined rhyming stanzas, Wilkinson tells the story of a quokka who waits until he hears the tell-tale noise of campers, holiday makers and tourists to make his way to their campsite to grab some of their food. He is well practised in taking food from the picnic tables, and when he sees a beautiful birthday cake sitting in the middle of the table, he wants it for himself. Pitting himself against the children and adults at the camp site, mayhem follows as the little quokka becomes entangled in ribbon, and the humans dive and weave around trying to prevent him taking the cake.
When he at last is able to grab the cake, he hears loud crying as tears fall from the children's faces. Chagrinned, he returns the cake to the family. Instead of being very cross, the birthday girl calls out 'look at his face and those cheeky cheeks' before having a selfie with the animal. Selfies finished the quokka leans back in his chair with a slice of watermelon, but turning the page sees him return to eyeing off something more inappropriate.
A delightful story about quokkas but also about native animals and the food they eat, particularly when they live close to tourist hot spots where food is available on tables and in bins. The story begs discussion about the appropriate feeding of native animals in such places at Rottnest Island as well as camping places where kangaroos and others may come visiting.
The funny illustrations serve the story well, revealing the range of children in this particular party, their faces alight with the experience they are having, while entranced with Clancy at the end, despite his behaviour almost ruining the birthday party. Food figures prominently in the illustrations and readers will delight in recognising party food of all descriptions. And with all that ribbon, wrapping paper and paper plates, it is good to see it all cleaned up at the end before they leave.
A funny tale about the interaction between humans and animals will have children looking more closely at the quokka, and laugh again at the myriad of selfies posted on the internet of humans and this little animal.
Fran Knight

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