TARLAU, Amanda (text) Jane Chapman (illus.) Conga Dance Koala, 2014 unpaged $14.99 pbk ISBN 9781742761107
What a happy, enticing story to share with (or for the advanced to read alone) receptive pre-schoolers and young children. It literally dances along after the initial invitation to ‘Join the line, the conga line’, of bush creatures headed by Emu. One by one come Wallaby, who ‘bounds in to the beat’, followed by Wombat, then Koala, Ring-tailed possum, Cockatoo and finally Spiky Echidna. The text literally dances along so that littlies can join in; maybe singing, each to their own tune.
The rollicking text is enlivened by equally, almost febrile, enticing illustrations that catch the personalities of each of the creatures that join the line. Without the characters being unduly anthropomorphized each is endearing in its own way because of the happy, enthusiastic facial expressions and bodily stance. Readers are invited to dance along to the conga beat. That dance only comes to its end with an Oops! when what looks like a giant lizard – what a pity it is not identified! – trips up the line. Text and illustration now become a kind of ‘Ring-a-rosy’ with everyone falling down, happy but exhausted. It is all good fun, but maybe an adult should be on hand to direct attention and help verbally with the text as it dances its merry way.
reviewed by Maurice Saxby