Helen Milroy, Backyard Beasties, Fremantle Press, February 2022, 32 pp., RRP $19.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760991203
This compact and colourful hardback offers its young readers brilliantly designed images of Helen Milroy’s backyard ‘beasties’. There is a cocky chicken, a slinking possum, a beautifully patterned bobtail lizard, a fluffy dog, a mysterious turtle, a shy gecko, a hanging bat, a sleepy quenda, a songful frog, and a rather formidable cat. I am amazed at what can be found in Helen Milroy’s backyard, but glad too that she has so much to show us.
Helen Milroy, a children’s psychiatrist, and a professor at the University of Way, is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara nation in Western Australia. She is the AFL’s first indigenous commissioner. Her designs are a delight to the eye, and they are a brightly humorous introduction to Australian fauna — without forgetting some of our much-loved introduced species.
It is book for bedtime as much as a book preparing its young readers to notice what is outside next time they go out among the ‘beasties’ of their own backyards. Recommended for readers from one to three years.
Reviewed by Kevin Brophy