by Kaye Kessing
(suitable for ages 8-80)
Kaye Kessing Productions 2015
- $53 for 3 book set at Australian National Botanic Gardens bookshop or
- $45 plus shipping from www.kayekessing.com
BOOK REVIEW by Esther Gallant
Bilby (the Pink-eared Bandicoot) and Chuditch (the Spotted Quoll) are both the last of their kind in their home ranges on the sundown side of the great land. What to do? Set out on a quest of course.
And so begins an epic adventure as a band of five endangered native mammals (The Five) heads across the great wide land to the biggest city by the endless sea. There they hope to find humans with kindness in them who will influence the decision makers in the house on the hill in the coldest city to protect all native animals. Places are not specifically named but those who have travelled across this great wide land in person or vicariously will recognize most.
Bilby is the quiet thinker and planner. Chuditch is the fierce protector of the group – all others being herbivores and/or insectivores. These two are joined by Mala (the Rufous Hare Wallaby) who jumps high to help choose the route, Sticky (the Stick-nest Rat) a clever problem solver and Numbat a grumpy but dedicated follower. Along the way The Five seek advice from an old Pink Cockatoo, a wise Golden Mole and others. Many (but not all) native animals and a few ferals help with the journey. Foxes, feral cats, rats and wild dogs chase and attack them. Great eagles patrol their route to protect them from these predators. The Five are poisoned by crop dusters and chased by humans with barking dogs. Danger and adventure are around every corner.
There are sections of pure joy such as the bursting forth of life when the great white lake is in flood. Beauty abounds as they float through extensive bird filled marshes and wind their way through majestic blue mountains. In contrast, ugliness surrounds them in horse and pig damaged wetlands.
Starvation threatens as they cross lands munched bare by cattle, sheep and goats and when crossing extensive one-plant paddocks with only toxic (to them) golden seed plants. Sadly some of the animals helping The Five are killed at the paws of feral and even native predators.
Other endangered native animals tell them of their troubles. The Five come to appreciate how complex and complicated an issue they are facing and debate the best solutions. Along the way we learn a bit about the geography of this land and about the creatures that inhabit it. We also learn of the many and varied negative impacts of our kind.
Definitely worth the read.