Tuesday 16 August 2011

Bilby Secrets

Bilby Secrets by Edel Wignell, illustrated by Mark Jackson (Walker Books)
HB RRP $29.95
ISBN 9781921529320
Reviewed by Vicki Stanton

Bilby Secrets is a wonderful book which explores the desert world of the Greater Bilby and aims to highlight the vulnerability of this unique Australian marsupial. Undoubtedly the strength of the book is the fictional story of Mother Bilby and her son and factual snippets running consecutively throughout.

We follow Baby’s growth under the guidance of Mother until he is mature and strikes out by himself into the harsh desert environment of the Pilbarra in Western Australia where Greater Bilbies make their home. Other desert inhabitants are also introduced. These include a fox, an olive python and a golden orb-weaver. Each spread also contains text in a different font which explains the behaviour and habits of bilbies including their food, habitat and reproduction.

Wignell writes in an engaging manner that draws the reader into the bilbies’ journey. Her text is perfectly complemented by Mark Jackson’s colourful illustrations that bring the desert world to life. Rather than being an empty landscape, Jackson shows the desert in all its variety and also from the perspective of the bilbies. (That is one big python!) The colours of the Western Australian outback provide a wonderful palette for him to draw from and he makes full use of it.

The book is further complemented by a brief introduction to the bilby at the beginning and an index at the back of the book. This would make a wonderful addition to libraries and a perfect gift, especially to send overseas.

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