Koala by Claire Saxby
Ill. by Julie Vivas. Nature Storybooks. Walker Books, 2017.
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Australian animals, Koalas, Australian bush, Habitat. In the fork of a tree a young koala wakes. He goes to his mother, wanting to get back into the safety of her pouch but she repels him. He is abruptly turned out into the world and must now learn to survive on his own. We follow his story as he learns the necessary skills of self preservation: finding trees suitable for his needs, fending off humans and other dangers, avoiding the dangerous male koalas when they are searching for a mate, finding a tree not marked with another's scent. He has a lot to learn without his mother and the story takes the reader through his early achievements complimented with glorious watercolour illustrations showing children exactly how a koala looks and what its habitat is like.
This is not the koala usually presented to readers: this is one on his own, learning to avoid the danger of an aggressive male, a bushfire, snake and humans.
This story of a koala in the first few lone months, one in the series called Nature Storybooks, contains factual information. In a different font, the facts are given along the bottom of the pages, supplementing the story above. Each word in the book is factual, giving the readers not only an engaging story of survival, but knowledge about koalas and their habits, habitat and behaviour, and a brief index at the end is perfect for younger readers to learn how to make use of this tool. Preceding the index is a page of further information designed to intrigue and inform. Readers will be engaged making a note of all that they learn about koalas at the end of the reading session, and the book lends itself to being read out loud, as two children could take the two sections, the one with the story, the other with the facts.
And this story could lead children to ponder on the skills they would need to learn to make their way through childhood.