Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Sneak Peek: Big Red Kangaroo, by Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love YouA Bit LostHowl's Moving CastleA Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh. 

Kangaroos are a quintessential part of Australian life – they are emblematic, featured throughout official materials, shown on television shows, a fixture in many children’s songs. Depictions vary; often times, children see kangaroos as cute and cuddly or large and lazy. (As anyone who’s ever been to a kangaroo park at the zoo can attest.)

In Big Red Kangaroo, Claire Saxby and Graham Byrne have cast the kangaroo in a more natural light. Clear and beautiful prose details Big Red’s life; well-researched facts accompany the story, creating opportunities for discussion.

Far inland, where ocean is a dim memory, the sun floats on the waves of another bake-earth day. In the long shadows, a big red kangaroo licks his forearms and lets the early evening breeze wash over him.

Stunning illustrations of inland Australia bring depth to the story, and particularly to Big Red.

Both text and illustration highlight key non-fiction details and encourage readers to think about kangaroos and their place in the natural world. But, as with Flight of the Honeybee, this book is so much more than a story about kangaroos, or an exploration of facts. It's a pleasure to read aloud; it's exciting; it's full of opportunities for acting out what it is to be a kangaroo, or to go out into the world and consider how it would look to Big Red. It is a book that brings bush to city, and roos to heart.

Claire Saxby was born in Melbourne and grew up in Newcastle, NSW where she thought she'd stay until the end of her days. Then, while she was holidaying in Melbourne, Claire's parents decided to move to Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea. Fortunately, they waited and took her with them. Since then, she's lived in more houses than she can remember. Claire is the author of Ebi's Boat, illustrated by Anne Spudvilas, which was a Children's Book Council of Australia Notable book in 2007. Her title published with Walker Books Australia in 2010, There Was an Old Sailor, illustrated by Cassandra Allen, was short-listed for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards 2010, Young Children Category. (See the colouring sheet here, or find the Classroom Notes.)

Born in Sydney sometime last century, Graham Byrne did the usual school and university time, worked as an electrical engineer for years, then went into building houses and structures. The old back injury put paid to hard physical work. An interest in art as a creative adjunct to the practical nature of building led to formal education, work installing artworks at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and wonderings about other roads to explore. Wanting his art to have some 'practical' useful purpose, to be illuminating, pointed Graham to illustration and design pathways. Explorations of drawing, painting, filling sketchbooks, making books for his grandchildren and illustrating short stories have combined to prompt his journey as a book illustrator. Big Red Kangaroo is Graham’s first picture book.

1 comment:

  1. Big red Kangaroo picture book is nice.Kangaroo is one of the animal that have pocket near stomach.