Stripes in the forest by Aleesah Darlison

cover image

Ill. by Shane McGrath. Big Sky Publishing, 2016. ISBN 9781925275704
(Age: 5+) Recommended. Thylacine, Tasmanian tiger, Extinction. A moving tale of the demise of the Tasmanian tiger, the last of which died in captivity in Hobart Zoo in 1936, is told here through the eyes of one of the last animals in the wild. A female, she describes her environment, and how she survives, finding a mate and having cubs. All seem quite idyllic in the Tasmanian forests, but in the background hunters can be seen. She looks on as they build semi permanent shacks and surround them with pelts from a variety of animals shot and killed in the wilderness. As the story moves on she and her mate hide in the forest, their stripes used to great advantage. But nothing can stop the hunters and her mate is killed. She and her cubs retreat further away from the men but the reader knows that her species shortly becomes extinct.
A page of information at the end of the book acquaints readers with the facts about this once widespread animal and will elicit despair as the children realise that extinction means forever and they will never get to see this amazing animal.
Several of the illustrations are standouts. The one where the men shoot their guns in the middle of the book is very moving as it predicts the annihilation of this species, and the lovely endpapers with their image of the partly concealed thylacine form a beautiful set of book ends to a story all Australians should know well.
Fran Knight