The turtle and the flood by Jackie French and Danny Snell

cover image

Myrtle, the long-necked turtle can predict bad weather. In this wonderful book she predicts a flood is coming to the waterhole where she lives, and warns the other animals by moving up the hill. During summer she swims in the creek eating moths and frogs, lizards and tadpoles and in winter she sleeps under the dry leaves. During dry times she covers herself with the silt and sand and when it rains, she uses her powerful legs to keep abreast of the water. But one day the river level rises very slightly, so she begins to walk uphill.

Other animals and insects see her and begin to head uphill themselves. When Farmer Finnegan sees the turtle walk uphill she recalls her mother’s words and takes her sheep to the top paddock. Wallabies, snakes, kangaroos and echidnas follow Myrtle’s lead, and when Myrtle reaches her favourite log, she digs herself into the soft sand to waits it out, as dark clouds gather and heavy rain falls. Here all the animals wait and when the turtle heads downhill, they follow her head.

This book is the second for Jackie French and Danny Snell, showcasing their talents in both text and illustrations. Digitally produced, Danny Snell’s images are quite mesmerising, as each page turned offers a different surprise for the eyes in design, layout and picture. On one page, the walk uphill is shown clearly with the uphill gradient taking the eyes towards the top of the hill, while on another the swirling waters of the flood shows its extents as it drags trees and animals along in its force, and other pages use panels to present the animals in their environment. One page needs to be turned on its side to see the full extent of the flooding.

The design adds another level of interest to a wonderful book about our environment, and French adds an author’s note about the turtle at the end of  the book.

Themes: Long necked turtle, Environment, Australian animals, Australian insects, Flood, Prediction.

Fran Knight