Review Blog

Apr 02 2020

Dugong magic by Deborah Kelly

cover image

Illus. by Lisa Stewart. Hachette, 2020. ISBN: 9780734419965. 32pp.
(Age: 4+) Recommended. With the vulnerable dugong only surviving within marine parks around Australia's coast, this timely look at the animal and its habits and vulnerability should shake the sentiments of young readers to help them become more aware of how we have had an impact on the lives of these majestic animals who live as long as we do.
The first half of the story shows the birth and early development of a dugong, bonding with its mother, helped to make its first steps within the marine environment, rising to the surface, testing its strengths, finding the right food to eat and how to eat it, learning to hide when predators come along. But it is the human activity that throws them more than anything else. They must avoid the rubbish thrown into the sea, dive down when noisy fast boats skim over the water above, look out for nets that entrap until the dugong calf finds it is alone.
Children will be saddened for the baby dugong, left alone in a sea of danger, but be made well aware that it is unsafe because of our misuse of the land in which we live. The last four double pages offer solutions that will delight the readers, upset by the dugong's plight. This will engage the children in real solutions after reading the story preceding it, and all is followed by a page of information about the dugong, aimed at giving the reader the information they need to better understand the plight of the dugong, half of the world's population of which live in Australian waters. Themes: Dugongs, Pollution, Environment, Vulnerable animals, Fishing.
Fran Knight

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