Backyard by Amanda Braxton-Smith

cover image

Ill. by Lizzy Newcomb. Black Dog Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925381177
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Themes: Backyards, Insects, Animals, STEM, Discovery. What a feast can be found in one's own backyard, simply using the skill of observation. This wonderful book impels younger readers to do just that, as a sleepy child and her star gazing dog sit on the back verandah and simply watch. Amongst the fig, lilly pilly and large eucalypts trees animals come out at night to eat. The tawny frogmouth is watching for whatever flies past, the spider is weaving her web waiting for an insect, midges fly around only to be eaten by the honeyeaters, a bat swoops up a dragonfly, a possum takes the last of the dog food from its bowl.
The child and her dog observe each and every animal they can see, and eager eyes reading the book will follow the text noticing each animal mentioned and observing more in the undergrowth. Newcomb's acrylic illustrations show us the breadth of the backyard, surrounded by large trees, shrubs and pot plants. Children will love looking at the array of things, recognising things found in their own yard, eager to seek out what they can see when they get home.
This delightful book will encourage children to look more closely at what surrounds them, to be more aware of the living things in their own backyard, to see what shares their home.
The visual and word imagery will intrigue and delight readers as they roll the lines around, practising reading them out loud and peruse the pictures with care to find out what lurks beneath the leaves.
Artist Lizzy Newcomb also illustrated "My name is Lizzie Flynn", the story of a quilt made by convict women on their way to Australia, while Amanda Braxton-Smith has written several novels for Black Dog Books including "Plenty" one of my favourites for 2014.
Fran Knight