Monday 12 March 2012

Alex Cottle Axolotl

Alex Cottle Axolotl by Christine Moroney, illustrated by Niki Oram (Little Steps Publishing)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9780980723755
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

Moroney, a medical diagnostic radiographer, writes children’s stories with a medical slant and underlying Christian message. Alex Cottle Axolotl lives in Mr Tulley’s pet shop and enjoys watching the comings and goings as people visit the cute cats and dogs, bright tropical fish and birds who sing beautifully. Poor Alex feels he has nothing to offer. Mr Tulley urges him to be patient, saying his time will come as ‘there is a place in this world for every creature.’

Bought as a birthday gift for Marcus, Alex proves to be a novelty. For two weeks. After that he is left alone and becomes bored. His tank fills with so much algae that he can no longer see outside and can barely breathe. He would climb up the sides of the tank to get out if it wasn’t so slippery with algae but if he could climb out ‘where would he go from there? He had no money to call a taxi.’

Luckily, messy Marcus tosses things around his room when searching for something and a shoe lands in the tank. Though it knocks off one of Alex’s toes he is able to climb it, balancing on top to attract attention. This doesn’t work and it’s not until Mum threatens to suspend pocket money that Marcus cleans up and sees what has happened. He remembers that ‘Alex had come with a set of instructions but he was not a science kit or a model plane’. He cleans up the tank and nurses Alex back to health.

When Marcus sees Alex’s toe growing back he tells Dad, who invites medical scientists over to examine Alex. They plan to build a research lab to learn more about this animal, asking Marcus to be an adviser to them which thrills Marcus.

Said to be aimed at 9-14 year olds the story line, language used and lesson Marcus learns about what happens if you don’t look after your pet are likely to be better suited to 6-10 year olds, as are the cute and varied black on white illustrations. Interesting facts about this endangered species and their use in medical research are contained on the last few pages of this book's 57 pages.

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