Thursday, 23 August 2018

Song Bird: Rainforest Rescue (Book 3)


Song Bird: Rainforest Rescue (Book 3) by Karen Tyrrell, illustrated by Trevor Salter (Digital Future Press) PB RRP $14.99 ISBN: 9780648161721

Reviewed by Nikki M Heath

In this third Song Bird series installment, Rosie’s year 6 rainforest camp starts with a near-disaster before the class even arrives at its destination, and the situation only worsens from there. The rainforest park is facing ecological disaster from an unidentified threat, students are going missing, and Rosie’s mysterious nemesis Destructo is lurking. Rosie is charged with using her singing superhero powers, and the help of her smart sidekick Amy, to save the rainforest, her friends and her family.

The story is fast-paced and focused on themes of friendship, cooperative problem solving, and environmental and cultural consciousness. While promoted as a STEM curriculum tie-in, it is much stronger in exploring traditional indigenous stories and other Australian folklore, with bunyips, yowies and other mythological creatures integrated as fantastical elements into the narrative. Tyrrell acknowledges consulting with Aboriginal elder Uncle Barry Watson as a cultural advisor in writing the book, and this is evident in the text. `

There are regular engaging twists (such as time travel and talking trees), and while at times these events distract from the narrative arc, there is no shortage of action. Tyrrell has developed strong yet flawed characters to whom readers will be able to relate, and there are several passages of evocative description which build a powerful setting. The book includes a single line-drawing, which supports a complex image at a crucial point in the story. It’s a shame that typological errors were missed in proof-reading.

Rainforest Rescue is a page-turner that will appeal to 7-10-year olds, particularly superhero fans. There are occasional slips from Rosie’s point of view, and I query the sensitivity of one subplot which involves the magical but temporary cure of Amy’s disability. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining story which encourages readers to contemplate both the environment and indigenous culture. Teacher notes and reader activities are to be made available on the author’s website (karentyrrell.com).

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