Mr Chicken all over Australia by Leigh Hobbs
Allen and Unwin, 2019. ISBN: 9781760296964.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Australia, Geography, Travel. Encouraged by the number of letters he has received from children in Australia suggesting places he might like to visit, Mr Chicken does his research, reading a book about Australia for polite visitors. Those who have read Mr Chicken before, are well aware of the in joke, as he is likely to be gruff and demanding. Previous books about his travels to Rome, Paris and London will have given many insights into his character as a tourist, so readers will be surprised when he takes his book to heart, and remains a polite, interested tourist.
He travels across Australia, visiting the places children have suggested, listing them all as he goes, adding an attraction or two. And most of the time he has a smile upon his face, except of course, his face of abject fear on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or running from the Tasmanian Devils who see him as lunch, or the aftermath of eating a whole pavlova.
Readers will get lots of laughs recognising places known in Australia, combined with the sorts of things tourists want to see and are offered to them, and reading about places they have never heard of, their interest whetted by the inclusion. He visits many of the 'big' things, the big Galah in Kimba, the Big Boxing Crocodile at Humpty Doo, the big Koala at Dadswells Bridge while seeing such animal attractions as the quokka, koala and crocodile. Well known physical attractions are flown over, walked around and swum: Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, Bungle Bungles, to name a few. Each place will bring either a sigh of recognition or a 'where is that' question, begging a large map of Australia to be poured over by the readers.
I thoroughly enjoyed Mr Chicken's outing in Australia covering so many places that I wonder he was still able to unveil his statue at the end.
Leigh Hobbs' distinctive illustrative style will intrigue and delight all readers, as they look for Mr Chicken's offsider, a helpful koala, on each page, and spot the myriad of places, people and events that make Australia, Australia.
Leigh Hobbs dedicates his book to the children, teachers and librarians he met as the 2016-2017 Australian Children's Laureate.