Mopoke by Philip Bunting
Omnibus Books, 2017. ISBN 9781742991658
(Age: 3+) Highly recommended. Reading aloud, Australian animals, Humour, Word play. The opening line, This is a mopoke. states baldly what the book is about, showing the reader that there will be no excess of words and introducing a complimentary pared down colour palette for the illustrations. Readers will be enthralled and immediately begin to wonder what story lies inside. Turning the page children will laugh out loud as the author plays with the bird's name. He becomes a highpoke, then a lopoke, a poshpoke and a poorpoke, each new word encouraging the reader to tease out its meaning. On each page the mopoke stares out at the reader from his branch set (usually) in the middle of the page, inviting the reader to notice his plumage, large round eyes, clawed feet, the time setting and his environment. And a small paragraph is given on the publication page giving further details about this Australian bird.
Mopokes love peace and quiet but as the tale unfolds, he is beset with morepokes, ones that play with a yo yo, ones that play tricks, some that wear a moustache or an affro, some that wash and find they can't do anything with their hair, until crossly he disappears to make a nopoke. Readers will love the simplicity of the humour and laugh out loud when it is read to them, or take it away to read for themselves. I love the blocks of colour, reminiscent of stencils or block prints, simply placed on each page, only the mopoke's eyes betraying what he feels about all the interruptions.
A funny read aloud, the story introduces the idea that some like to be alone, and shows what one Australian animal is all about.