Thursday 5 January 2012

The Tale of Kyla Koala

The Tale of Kyla Koala by Susan Hall, illustrated by Ben Guy
(National Library of Australia
HB RRP $14.95
ISBN 978-0-642-27726-8
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

When Kyla Koala is caught in her very first bushfire ever, none of the other animals help her. They all simply flee. Unsure of which direction to take, Kyla does her best. Sadly, it’s not enough to prevent burnt paws. Through dialogue of the Uprights, readers learn that the only thing that saved her was what saved the Uprights and their homes; good fortune of wind changing in time.

A young girl, distressed because her dolly was burnt in the barn, discovers Kyla and sees her burnt paws. Though the girl’s parents say she can’t keep Kyla as a pet, they do help her tend to Kyla’s burns. Kyla’s repeated attempts to escape are thwarted by the young Upright who is desperate to keep her and it is only when Kyla finally succeeds in escape that a compromise found.

Hungry Kyla is unable to return home or to find food where she used to as all is blackened, but nearer the Upright’s home is a tree that will be suitable. When the little girl sits under the tree sobbing at her loss, Kyla climbs the tree and settles in it to munch on some leaves. The young girl understands it is these leaves, and the tree as a home, that mean Kyla is likely to stay nearby. Happy that they will be neighbours, the girl stops trying to keep Kyla trapped.

One of four in the Animal Tales series, the tale shows early settlers caring for injured native fauna and shows how they learnt about the life of the native animals. Besides incorporating small facts into the story, the book also ends with pictures showing some of the early paintings done by early settlers and how much they got wrong first up!

Story illustrations by Ben Guy are accurate presentations and capture the frantic dilemma native animals are threatened with when natural elements of our environment hit hard.  His illustrations also show farms and homes of early settlers interspersed between bush scenery, as it truly would have been in the early days. From the scenic Australian end papers to stylish cloth case and jacket, this is a beautiful production.

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