Karen Tyrrell (text), and Trevor Salter (illustrator), Great Barrier Reef Rescue (Song Bird #4), Digital Future Press, May 2019, 185 pp., RRP $14.99 (pbk), ISBN 9780648161745
Great Barrier Reef Rescue is the fourth book in the Song Bird Superhero series by Karen Tyrrell. The main character is Rosie, a young girl who with the power of her singing voice transforms into the flying ‘Song Bird’, superhero. Like the previous books in the series, Song Bird is faced with solving an ecological problem, this time it’s dealing with saving the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem from dying.
The story follows Rosie, her family and two friends on their holiday trip to Green Turtle Island. However, Rosie and her friends soon become suspicious that all is not right on the island; marine creatures are dying, the coral is bleaching and there is plastic pollution everywhere. They soon discover that Rosie’s evil nemesis Destructo is at work, and Rosie is tasked with the job of going through a transporter portal to a past time and place to bring back a solution to save the reef.
From the start to finish there is constant action. Rosie and her friends encounter challenges each step of the way in their quest to save the reef. There is plenty of imagination at work in this story, from the evil spider dog robots, ‘K’ and ‘Nine’, to the blue ‘Ocean boy’ with special aqua powers. Whilst the action keeps things interesting I did find it a bit hectic and difficult to follow the characters and their whereabouts at times. There are also a lot of sounds effects emphasized throughout the story – which might make for a more exciting oral reading, but which I found disruptive to my internal reading.
Even though the story is highly fictionalised there are some real and important messages in the book, specifically of the threats to the Great Barrier reef and its marine life. To be fair, I haven’t read the previous books so perhaps I would have connected more with the characters if I had, but on its own I didn’t really enjoy this fourth book. I found it to be too focussed on action and a bit clunky in structure. I am sure there are middle to upper primary readers who will cheer Song Bird on while she battles to save the reef, and will become more aware of these important environmental messages.
Reviewed by Julie Bertola