Jeannie Baker, Circle, Candlewick/Walker Books Australia, 24 May 2016, 48pp., $27.99 (hbk) ISBN 9781406338010
This is the story of the migratory pattern of the bar-tailed godwit, 11,000 kilometres from their home in Alaska to their home in Australia and New Zealand. This is the longest migratory journey of any bird. On their return north they stop to feed in the wetlands of South-East Asia, which are decreasing in size due to land reclamation and development.
Jeannie Baker’s colourful mixed media collage illustrations, constructed from materials collected by Baker while visiting the locations in the book, are superb. The layout is varied, ranging from double page spreads that appear much larger than the physical size of the book to smaller, individual images of birds and their nests.
There are many stand out features in this picture book, and if I were to choose one I would say the viewpoints, as seen through the images. On many occasions one feels as though they are in the sky with these amazing birds, looking down on the world. There are smaller narratives occurring in the visual storytelling as the well worked verbal text follows the bird’s migratory path.
The author’s note at the back of the book offers more information, including a map of the world showing the epic path taken by these birds and a list of other migratory creatures that can be found in the book. Accompanied by detailed teacher’s notes, this book is a must for school and public libraries. Those who enjoy studying picture books will also find this a necessary addition to their private library. Highly recommended for all ages.
Teacher’s Notes, resources and references available on a dedicated website.
Reviewed by Liz Derouet