Review Blog

Apr 12 2018

Dingo by Claire Saxby

cover image

Ill. by Tannya Harricks. Nature Storybooks series. Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781925381283
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Themes: Dingoes. Non fiction. Australian outback. Survival. This beautifully crafted picturebook tells of the life and environment of a mother dingo as she looks after her pups, going out at night hunting for food for them, watching over them as they sleep, keeping warm with her pack. Through one night of hunting, Saxby reveals how she survives this seemingly barren land, taking smaller animals, using her incredible skills to hunt down and kill a rabbit before it is even aware it is being watched. She watches the other animals foraging in the night, an owl searching from above, kangaroos too big for her to bother with grazing in the evening shadows.
The bold brush strokes make the pictures dance, as the dingo goes about its tasks. Layered oil paint brings the animal and its environment close to the reader, making them aware of the skills the dingo needs to survive, its long rangy legs, lean sleek body, bright eyes and alert ears. Brush strokes outline the gum trees and rolling hills, the sweep of the hill tops, the darkening sky. Every page will make readers draw in their breath as another vista is shown, recognisably Australian. Several times readers are asked to find the dingo hidden in the woods, forcing younger readers to ponder the usefulness of the patchy colouring of the dingo.
I found each page a delight to look at and ponder, and the index at the end with a brief summary of the dingo helped me learn more about this animal which creates such divided opinions. As with all the wonderful series from Walker, each page has a story line in one font and information in a different font, allowing readers to see the book from two different perspectives, but each allowing the reader to gain greater insight.
Saxby has successfully written two other books in this series: Big Red Kangaroo, and Emu, which I loved, while I saw Harricks' bold style at the Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize Exhibition in Adelaide and have watched out for her work since.
This book is worth seeking out for your library.
Fran Knight

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