Kookaburra by Claire Saxby
Illus. by Tannya Harricks. Nature Storybooks. Walker Books,
2020. ISBN: 9781760651060.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Part of the dawn chorus in Australia, the laugh of the kookaburra is most distinctive and Saxby imitates that sound in her text as it follows the lives of a kookaburra family, mum (Kookaburra) and dad and their three offspring. They laugh together on the branch of a tree, watching for signs of food. When a lizard is spied, dad swoops down to grab it in his amazing beak, bringing it back to Kookaburra, offering it to her as it is close to mating season. They search for a nesting position, wary that it should not be too accessible by other animals. Another group of kookaburras comes close to their territory, and dad, solicitous of his family, makes his presence known. They posture at each other across the river and the interlopers move on. Food is gathered when a single kookaburra appears. It is nesting time and everyone is tense, the family swoops at the invader and it flees. The story of Kookaburra and her family is told in one font, enticing readers along a path that shows the animals and what happens during a day, while along the bottom of the pages is a text in a different font, giving more academic information about the birds. So children will read of the territories of the kookaburra and the fact that they often return to the same nesting place from the year before, and often pair for life.
Each page offers the story of the family over the year, and this is augmented with a sentence of two of factual information, giving the reader so much more than a non fiction text or a story book.
I like the Nature Storybooks series, the mixture of fact and story gives a broader multi-layered feel to the book, and they are always supported with great illustrations and design.
At the end of this book as with all the others in this fine series, is a page of information about kookaburras, a page about the author and illustrator and a brief but adequate index.
I particularly like the opening and closing pages, the first at dawn with the kookaburra family on a bough outlined against the morning sky, while the last page shows the end of the day, the sun setting over the hills, the family welcoming the evening with their raucous laugh. Teacher's notes are available.
Themes: Kookaburras, Family.