Monday 24 January 2022

Rusty, the Rainbow Bird

Rusty, the Rainbow Bird by Aleesah Darlison, illustrated by Mel Matthews (Puffin Books) HB RRP $19.95 ISBN: 9781760899240

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is the third book in the Endangered Animal Tales’ series published recently. The rainbow bird of the title is the Gouldian finch, found across the top of Australia, from the Kimberley in Western Australia to Far North Queensland. Facts about the bird are scattered through the pages and on the final page. There are fewer than 2,500 highly coloured adults – weighing less than a 50-cent coin -- living in the wild.

In Rusty, the Rainbow Bird, Darlison fictionalises the story of Rusty which meets Olive. ‘He bobs and whirls, puffs and fluffs’ as he courts in an energetic dance for his soon-to-be partner for life. The lovebirds build a cosy nest inside a hollowed tree where Olive lays ‘six perfect eggs.’ Both birds take turns keeping them warm. Baby finches hatch naked and blind with colourful patterns on their mouths so their parents can see them in the dark nest and feed them seeds and insects.

Unfortunately, danger descends in the shape of a bushfire, deadlier than any predator and largely responsible for making the finches endangered. A double page spread in brilliant oranges, yellows and purples shows Rusty confronted by the raging fire. All pages in this picture book are filled with bright pictures that are captivating, and, in the case of the fire, alarming.  

Complementing the illustrations is the written text which is filled with strong, sometimes poetic images and words that read well aloud. Mostly the text about Rusty and his family is on the left-hand side of the double spreads, with short facts (such as ‘juvenile finches don’t get their colourful adult plumage until they’re a year old) on the right.

Child readers, aged 8 to 12 years are sure to be captivated by this well-written, strongly illustrated book, and, too, they will learn about an Australian bird which doesn’t usually get much publicity, but which ought to.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Buzz Words Books would love to hear what you think.