Tuesday 3 January 2012

The Tale of Kaz Kangaroo

The Tale of Kaz Kangaroo by Susan Hall, illustrated by Ben Guy
(National Library of Australia
HB RRP $14.95
ISBN 978-0-642-27729-9
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

Leaning out of Mother’s pouch one day, Kaz spots an interesting shape out to sea that’s heading for land. She hops a very long way, further than she has ever been on her own, to reach the beach and investigate this apparition. She thinks it may be a whale, until she spots Uprights crawling all over it and realises she should return home. Sadly, she can not remember which way home is.

The Uprights, who are setting up camp on land, try to catch Kaz. When fear takes hold and paralyzes her, all the Uprights try to work out what this strange creature is. It’s not a dog, a deer or a gigantic rat! One of them tries to draw her. When Kaz’s mum shows up, Kaz disappears into Mum’s pouch. The Uprights are amazed and, although wary of Mum’s size, they crowd around.

Kaz feels safe enough in Mum’s pouch to pop her head out and this makes one Upright order the others to back away, meaning Kaz and Mum can get home. One of four in the Animal Tales series, this tiny hardback explores the reaction of Europeans to our native fauna when they first came to Australia. Uniquely, it does this via the viewpoint and experiences of each creature; in this case, Kaz.

Young readers will enjoy the initial story about Kaz and, 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 our native animals when they first met. Besides incorporating small facts into the story, the book ends with pictures showing some of the early paintings done by early settlers; most interesting, as they got a lot wrong first up!

Story illustrations by Ben Guy are accurate presentations of our kangaroos and illustrations of the ship and the early settlers are a step into the past. From the scenic Australian end papers to the stylish cloth case and jacket, this is a quality production, and a percentage of proceeds goes to the RSPCA.

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