Jacqui Halpin (text) and Sandra Severgnini (illustration), Where’s Lucky?, Little Pink Dog Books, April 2019, 32 pp., RRP $24.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780648256335
Where’s Lucky? fictionalises the wonderful work done for orphaned kangaroos by wildlife carers, such as Theresa and Tony of Our Haven Wildlife Shelter in Victoria. The real Theresa and Tony are depicted within the story (and you can pick this from the style in the first illustration they are in), and perhaps there are some other real models among the joeys.
Lucky’s mother was hit by a car. Hidden in her pouch, he was lucky to be rescued and raised amongst a big family of joeys. The hectic life of the wildlife carers, and their love for their charges, is depicted in a litany of situations, punctuated by Lucky always seeming to be elsewhere, creating havoc. The series of alternate page double spreads with the question “Where’s Lucky?” are fun, silent narratives where the evidence is laid bare – food knocked off the table, Lucky sitting up at the kitchen sink, in the clothes basket – to be examined and delighted in by the reader.
The gentle and beautiful illustrations are mostly pastel colours on open white backgrounds. Illustrator Sandra Severgnini captures the working life of the shelter as a crowded family space and depicts many humorous attitudes and scenes particularly featuring Lucky and Bluey as endearingly and unwittingly mischievous children. Watching them grow and thrive and finally return to the wild is the happy storyline.
The message of the book is kept low key through the narrative, but is followed at the end with some information about the shelters, including dedicating a percentage of the profits from the book to Our Haven Wildlife Shelter. Tips about wildlife safety and what to do if a wild animal needs help are listed as well.
I did have an initial qualm on first reading the book, seeing on page two:
“He lived in his mother’s pouch… When she was hit by a car, Lucky stayed hidden, until Theresa and Tony rescued him. He was lucky.”
Lucky’s mother is not mentioned again. Obviously, she died, but this point is something you might want to know before a reading. It is a good opportunity for a discussion about death as well as care of wildlife, but might not be appropriate for all occasions or all children.
Reviewed by Marita Thomson