Jackie French (text), Matt Shanks (illus.), Koala Bare, Angus & Robertson/HarperCollins Australia, 18 Sept 2017, 32pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN: 9781460751619
Award-winning much loved Australian author, Jackie French teams up with a new illustrator to set right the misconception that the koala (a marsupial) is a bear.
The short, sharp and often funny rhyming narrative forms koala’s angry replies to a bespectacled cockatoo’s notebook observations that compare ‘bear’ characteristics fictional and real. The story/picture balance leaves space for interpretation and readers will love guessing what exactly happens between the spreads as koala reacts to being labelled. I learnt several koala facts from both text and drawings and was prompted to research whether pandas are bears also. Cute simple watercolour drawings keep the humour bubbling along. The important lesson (as the cockatoo blushes to acknowledge) is that we are simply ourselves and ask others to accept this.
Opinionated, grumpy and a bit destructive, readers will want to stroke Koala’s flock tummy on the embossed cover.
Suitable for 2-6 year olds. A Teaching Guide can be found on the HarperCollins website.
Reviewed by Liz Anelli