Big red kangaroo by Claire Saxby

cover image

Ill. by Graham Byrne. Walker Books, 2013. ISBN 9781921270420.
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Picture book. Kangaroos. Using charcoal and digital media, Byrne replicates the image of one big red kangaroo across each page, showing his proportions, stance, agility and habits for every child who picks up this book. The spare prose story of this kangaroo, accompanied by non fiction paragraphs of information will lead readers to gaining a multi layered appreciation of the survival of this most recognisable of Australia's marsupials.
The tale follows the life of one big red, head of his mob, leading his females and joeys to places where food can be found, to shelter from the wind and occasional rain, while keeping his position as the leader from younger rivals. Each segment of his life is paralleled by small paragraphs of information in italics augmenting what is happening in the story. Readers will have three levels of interest, one in the amazing illustrations, one in the story and the other with the information. Each is engrossing and adds to the students' knowledge of these animals and their habitat.
The illustrations show a vast almost featureless land inhabited by the kangaroos. Few other animals or birds exist in this bleak, waterless desert, with the spare use of reds and browns underscoring its harshness. At night, when most action occurs, the night sky is an amazing background to their foraging, and the rising moon a spectacular backdrop to his inevitable challenge by a younger male.
This is a most satisfying read, one that gives more the more it is read and pondered, entertaining, informative and thought provoking as readers scan the images and read the print.
More information is given at the end of the book, a brief index allows students to find information for themselves, and these are followed by information about the author and illustrator. A worthy purchase for any library.
Fran Knight