One careless night by Christina Booth

cover image

Black Dog Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781925381856.
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Thylacine, Extinction, Environment, Tasmania. The image of the last thylacine in its cage in Hobert is monumental in encouraging people to understand that extinction means that these incredible animals are no longer on this planet.
This emotionally draining picture book showing the plight of these animals, unique to Australia and last seen in Tasmania in the early years of the twentieth century, will force readers to ask questions about how this was allowed to happen, and help them take steps to prevent it happening again.
The stunning cover sets the scene with its dark shades camouflaging the rear of a thylacine walking in its forest. The arresting cover forces readers to pause and look before opening the book, gleaning information about the animal before they proceed. Readers will be ale to see why it was called 'tiger', its doglike features, its habitat, while in awe at the skill of the illustrator in referencing the animals's demise as it walks off the cover.
Each page will draw gasps of wonder as the journey of one thylacine is followed from her home in the Tasmania bush to her capture and incarceration in the Hobart Zoo, where, one careless night the keeper forgets to lock her away and she dies of the cold.
Her days in the forest are spent hunting, teaching her cub how to survive, running from the shapes that come into the ancient woods to kill, encouraged by the government bounty on the tigers's head. But the hunters capture her and she is taken to the city where she is surrounded by a forest of metal, where she must rely on a keeper to bring her food and lock her up at night against the cold.
Booth's skill at using digital techniques are nowhere as perfectly realised as with the illustrations in this book. They are simply breathtaking, making the reader stop on each page, drinking in the image presented, looking for the tiger and absorbing clues about its life. The sparse text accentuates the stunning illustrations, the words placed on the page contrasting with the images, the font used impelling the reader to read and think about the words presented.
The author's note at the end followed by the government advice about the bounty round off an emotionally stunning book, forcing readers to think more carefully at how easily things are lost forever. Teacher's notes are available.
Fran Knight