Kelly Canby (text and illustrator), Rodney, Fremantle Press, March 2019, 32 pp., $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781925815320

Rodney is a tortoise who dreams of being able to live high up amongst the treetops. All his animal friends call out to him to join them but he can’t climb up, and he feels so small! The feeling of being too small and not being able to do something are sure to be themes a young audience can relate to.

Canby’s signature artwork is playful, free-flowing, colourful and appealing. She cleverly depicts Rodney’s feeling of being small with overhead perspectives. It is only once Rodney realises he is bigger compared to other animals that he starts to ‘grow’ on the page. These ideas of perspective and comparable sizes would make this a great introductory book for these mathematical concepts.

The text is simple and repetitive but also incorporates some interesting verbs describing how things are said, for example, “screeched the monkeys”, “bellowed the koala”. An enthusiastic story teller could use these cues to tell the story very dramatically.

Canby’s depiction of animals and plants could also inspire parents/teachers to make similar artworks with children to create a jungle/rainforest scene. The basic shape and patterns drawn using crayons with watercolours then used to fill in with colour. In addition Canby has her own blog, and includes teaching notes for books she has written.

Reviewed by Julie Bertola

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