The Three Wallabies Gruff by Yvonne Morrison

cover image

Ill. by Heath McKenzie. Little Hare, 2013. ISBN 9781742977157.
The Wallabies Gruff - mum, dad and son - are tired of the drought-ridden, dusty, dry outback and so they set off to find greener pastures, 'somewhere leafy and cool with trees bending over a sparkling pool.'
Meanwhile, far away in the back of beyond, a group of wild creatures lived close to such a pond but it is fiercely guarded by a yowie, selfish and stingy and cruel, and no one was allowed access to his pool. He ruled over the rickety bridge and woe betide any creature who tried to cross it.
'Who's that going PIT PAT
down MY private TRACK?
So what happens when the Wallabies Gruff arrive at this pool and decide it's their perfect home? Especially when they don't heed the warnings of the other creatures!
This is another in the series of Australian versions of traditional tales that Yvonne Morrison and Heath McKenzie are becoming known for. Just as in The Cocky who cried Dingo, The Emu who laid the Golden Egg and Town Possum, Outback Possum Morrison has crafted a catchy story in rhyme which bounces along and McKenzie's illustrations bring it all to life. And, just as in the other three, there is a message that can be brought out by skilful discussion and teaching - in this case, bullying. What happens to the yowie when he picks on someone his own size?
There's also scope for some great bush-based artwork, and also some science as the children try to build a bridge that would support the weight of Father Wallaby. Just how much does a wallaby weigh? Very young children can explore ordinal numbers, size and position words like 'over' and 'under'. Once you start thinking, the ideas and possibilities are endless, and no doubt teaching notes for the original Three Billy Goats Gruff could be easily adapted.
This is a worthy addition to the series and your collection.
Barbara Braxton