Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum by Gordon Winch, illustrated by Stephen Pym (New Frontier)
HB RRP $24.99
Reviewed by Jenny Heslop
Penelope is a Mountain Pygmy Possum which lives in the Snowy Mountains in Australia. She hibernates throughout the winter in her home under the boulders while her mate Percy and the other males spend the cold months further down the mountain where snow and ice do not reach. When spring arrives, Penelope hungrily snacks on Bogong Moths, but then her thoughts turn to Percy and she wonders why he has not made his way back to her yet.
This is a lovely story which finds the balance between make-believe and fact. It is a story about with these tiny endangered marsupials the impact humans have on their environment. But it also a hopeful story which shows that, with a little thought, humans and animals can exist together well and demonstrates how these little animals help to keep the environmental balance in check.
Even though this story contains a clear message, this is not a wordy picture book. The simple writing style makes it a good read aloud. It an easy story for young children to follow and they will empathise with plight of Penelope, Percy and all their friends. And the expressive eyes of the Pygmy Possums will make children fall in love with these adorable little creatures.
Beautiful soft muted illustrations give the story gentleness. The colour palette enhances the Australian setting and emphasizes the quiet humour in Percy’s brightly striped socks or the unexpected shock of the yellow bulldozer.
Penelope and the Mountain Pygmy Possum will make a nice bedtime story for 4 to 8 year olds. The happy ending sees a reunited Penelope and Percy at the end of ‘The Tunnel of Love’, snacking on their Bogong Moths ‘with a crackle and a crunch, a chomp and a munch.’