Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Tale of Peek Platypus

The Tale of Peek Platypus by Susan Hall, illustrated by Ben Guy (National Library of Australia
HB RRP $14.95
ISBN 978-0-642-27728-2
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

As the sun sets on a beautiful day, Peek swims in the river and spots a strange thing swishing back and forth above him. It’s a scoop net and he is picked up in it by ‘Uprights’. The humans peer into the net and argue over what Peek is (duck, beaver, valuable fish). It becomes obvious to readers these humans have no idea. They pop Peek into a bucket of water with a lid so he can’t escape.

One of the humans thinks Peek could be worth a fortune. A kinder, gentler one thinks he belongs in the water. Once the humans are far enough away from Peek, a curious dingo disturbs the bucket and Peek is able to reach the water. There is a close call as the greedy Upright pulls him back but the dingo does not give up and the kind, gentle human is relieved to see Peek swim away.

One of four in the Animal Tales series that explores the reaction of Europeans to our native fauna when they first came to Australia, this is a tiny, hard backed treasure. Young readers will enjoy this book for the initial story about the animal but, as they grow up and learn more about the world around them and our history, they will see into more of the issues faced by early settlers and native animals. Explanatory notes at the books end will help with this.

Like all books in the series, this one includes beautiful bush scenes that show animals in their peaceful, natural setting. Scenic end papers and a stylish cloth case and jacket finish off this quality production. The last pages include pictures of the early paintings done by early settlers; most interesting, as they got a lot wrong first up! Story illustrations by Ben Guy are far more accurate presentations of the creatures we know so much about now.

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