The buffalemu by Paul de Guingand. Illus. by Nandina Vines

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Set in Oodnadatta, South Australia (there is a Welcome to Oodnadatta sign), the illustrations portray a dry, desolate outback with red dirt and lots of flies. These illustrations alongside a cast of Australian animals and Aussie lingo evokes a strong sense of place. The animals are worn, bandaided, scruffy and skinny. Catchphrases and slang abound (barking up the wrong gum tree, flown the coop, been around the block) that could be analysed further.

The band of old animal mates (Chewy the one-eyed red 'roo, Smokey the wombat, Johnno the crow, Roosta the three-legged dingo, Sad-Eyes the ancient goanna) have heard that their mate Aggie the emu is feeling upset. 'We'll go sort it out, with a chinwag, a yarn, have a chat. We'll head up the creek, hear out her deep thinking, and figure out where her head's at.' After a bit of an outback journey they reach Aggie, who is feeling a bit like she doesn't fit in. She wishes she had four strong legs instead of two spindly ones. 'I'd be Buffalemu!', she says. Her friends are no help so Aggie heads off on a walk, where she comes across the Australian Government logo and realises maybe she is suited to this place in her own special way. 'There's all sorts of creatures that live here and there and each of them great in their way'.

Themes: Rhyming Stories, Australian Stories, Australian animals, Belonging.

Nicole Nelson