Rohan Cleave (text), Coral Tulloch (illus.), Bouncing Back: an Eastern Barred Bandicoot Story, CSIRO Publishing, April 2018, 32pp., $24.95 (hbk), ISBN: 9781486308279
The author/illustrator team that brought us the award-winning Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect has returned with the narrative nonfiction book, Bouncing Back: an Eastern Barred Bandicoot Story.
The Eastern Barred Bandicoot (EBB) is a rabbit-sized marsupial native to south eastern Australia. Bouncing Back tells the true story of how, after the species had all but disappeared from mainland Australia due to habitat loss and introduced predators, it was rediscovered in the country Victorian town of Hamilton. Most surprising of all was that one of the few scattered sites that the EBBs were taking refuge in was the Hamilton tip, where animals were living among rusty car wrecks.
From this point on, the story describes how various organisations banded together to start the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Program. This ongoing conservation program aims to keep the mainland EBB population alive through fundraising, research, captive breeding of EBBs and their eventual release into protected areas.
Bouncing Back is told by a bandicoot-narrator in first person point of view. The bandicoot begins by describing its appearance, behaviour and way of life before going on to tell the story outlined above.
Coral Tulloch’s illustrations broaden the context of the EBB’s habitat and ecology for readers, and do justice to a very charming animal.
Back matter in expository style delves deeper into the animal’s biology and recent history. There is also a useful glossary.
As an account of a species recovery program that has met with some success, Bouncing Back may be an uplifting choice for primary level science and environmental studies.
Reviewed by Julie Murphy