When I was a child, I always wanted to visit Australia. Now I can visit in my imagination with two new picture books by Claire Saxby, both of which have been nominated for the 2015 Cybils award in the Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction category.
Both of these books are written with two “stories” per two-page spread, narrative text in one font and factual information in another font in a sidebar. This allows the book to be read many ways, such as as a narrative, as straight informational text, or both.
First up is Emu by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne.
Of course, what catches your eye first is the striking illustration of an emu staring right at you on the cover. Crikey! The digitally-created illustrations by Graham Byrne throughout are bold and innovative.
The main narrative follows an emu dad incubating eggs and taking care of the chicks that hatch. Emu even chases away an eagle that tries to attack one of the chicks. It is an exciting story, full of strong verbs.
In the factual sidebar we learn that female emus lay the eggs and helps make the nest, but does not help incubate the eggs or take care of the chicks. We also learn emus can run fast and often run in a zigzag pattern to avoid predators.
Emu will thrill youngsters interested in birds, nature, or those who, like me, who dream of visiting Australia!
Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Candlewick (April 28, 2015)
Big Red Kangaroo by Claire Saxby and illustrated by Graham Byrne was actually published first and has a similar format.
In this case the narrative follows a male red kangaroo, appropriately named Red. His main challenge is other male kangaroos, because as we learn in a sidebar, big red kangaroos have few predators.
Graham Byrne’s illustrations in Big Red Kangaroo won him the 2014 Crichton Award for New Illustrators from the Children’s Book Council of Australia. He actually became an illustrator later in life and worked previously as an electrical engineer and builder.
Young readers are often fascinated by unusual creatures like kangaroos. Big Red Kangaroo is a wonderful introduction, sure to inspire them to find out more.
Related:Walker Books has two pages of ideas for using the book in classrooms available as a downloadable .pdf
Age Range: 5 – 8 years
Publisher: Candlewick (January 6, 2015)
By the way, as you can see from the photographs below, my husband went to Australia, but he didn’t take me with him.
Another iconic Australian animal is the koala.
Disclosure: Emu was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.