Tuesday 27 August 2013

Big Red Kangaroo

Big Red Kangaroo by Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne (Walker Books)
HB RRP $ 27.95
ISBN 9781921720420
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Claire Saxby is a prolific creator of children’s books whose work covers many genres. Her latest book Big Red Kangaroo is created in highly original parallel format with one page of text telling the story to entertain, while the parallel text defines, informs and educates.

It introduces Red, the leader of the mob, and his followers in sparse and precise storytelling prose. The opposite page elaborates on the word ‘mob’; what mobs or families are made up of, when they are most active, their feeding patterns, the strength and leadership of the dominant male, and the importance of the tail of the red kangaroo.

‘His hops are long. Each landing pushes air from his lungs, each bound fills them’. These gems of information flow through the opposing narrative throughout the book.

The illustrations by Graham Byrne are reminiscent of Ron Brooks’ haunting artwork in Fox by Margaret Wild. The powerful opening lines of the book also bring to mind the opening in the same book.

The outstanding artwork is created with charcoal and digital media using earthy colours with shades of ochre dominating. This is a high quality production and one which should do well in publicising Australia and her unique fauna.

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