The lost tail by Patricia Bernard
Ill. by Tricia Oktober. Ford St., 2013. ISBN 978 1 921445 56 8.
(age: 5+) Recommended. Picture book. Papua New Guinea. Celebration. How absolutely wonderful to see a book about our closest neighbour, Papua New Guinea. When researching for teacher notes for Kate Constable's new book, New Guinea Moon, I was surprised to realise how few books about this country are available to our students. So this is a very welcome book indeed.
A group of children, the Bundi Boys is to preform their snake dance at the Goroka Show. They must leave their village for a five day trek across the mountains, passing the many dangers that may appear, carrying their snake to get to the show on time where they will join all the other participants from across the country. At the show the boys settle to sleep after looking at the huge array of tribesmen and women from different parts of Papua New Guinea with their endless variety of head dresses, paint and feathers.
Little Nara is to carry the tail, a job he must take very seriously, but when he wakes in the morning, he has lost his tail, so must set out to find it.
A seemingly simple tale of the group getting to Goroka to present their snake dance, the story showcases the range of different groups that live in Papua New Guinea. Marvellously illustrated by Oktober, the colours are fantastic, revealing the spectacular use of feathers, teeth, straw, moss and shells, amongst a myriad of other things to decorate the dancers.
The wonderful snake winds its way through the book, holding the story and the illustrations together, and kids will love working out how the boys may have made it. They will also be intrigued with the range of people displayed in the story and spy the various things in the jungles' trees, and the background at Goroka. In any hands this book will introduce readers to the amazing country to our north.