Thursday, 15 March 2012

Chinkapook and the Manangatang Mountain Munyips

Chinkapook and the Manangatang Mountain Munyips by Bob Heddle (Little Steps Publishing)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9780980575057
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

This story, the third in a series, shows the Valemink family, Mum, Dad, Zac aged 8 and Ria aged 11 arriving in Chinkapook where they will live for several months while Mum and Dad, scientists sent here by the ‘Australian Agricultural Department’ research why Chinapook, North-West Victoria, was named the ‘place of red earth by the Aborigines’.

Once there Zac and Ria befriend ‘Koori boy, Mick La Bonbon, better known as Marsupial Mick, who tells unbelievable stories.’ He says there are Bunyips in the area. For no particular reason, Zac insists on calling them Munyips, which ceases to aggravate his sister once she decides they should all call them that. Visiting Mick’s place, a ‘shack with a tent attached to it’ which he calls a multimillion dollar mansion due to its view and nice fresh air, Zac and Ria join him and his four year old brother Mim on a visit to Munyip Country in the Manangatang Mountains.

They put yabbies they catch back when Ria says it would be cruel to cook them. They eat cake Mick’s mum packed instead. Losing their way home they stay bush overnight. Investigating a noise he pretended to hear, Mick makes Munyip sounds to scare the others. In the morning Ria tells him it was a lousy trick. While packing to go home, real Munyips chuckle. They are cheeky though potentially dangerous and the children learn that making them laugh is helpful when wishing to escape. Once home Dad asks if they saw any Munyips and they reply ‘Don’t you know munyips don’t exist.’ They don’t want their parents to halt their adventuring.

Ten of the 55 pages include Heddle’s illustrations and some of his beautiful watercolour images of the Mallee region. Also included in the 55 pages is a two page synopsis and instructions for a Munyip Game in which children must try and make players laugh by pulling funny faces at them. Marketed at children aged 9-14, Chinkapook and the Manangatang Mountain Munyips seems more apt for readers aged 5 to 10 given the age of its characters and the subject matter. A quick read in a setting very different to anything most young readers will be at all familiar with.

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