Ted Prior, Grug and the Bushfire, Simon & Schuster Australia, November 2020, 32pp., RRP $16.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760858483
Grug and his snake friend, Cara, see an approaching bushfire and take refuge in Grug’s underground home. Soon they are joined by a range of local native animals. After the fire has passed, Grug emerges to a changed landscape. Thankfully, prolonged heavy rains soon kick off the bushland’s regeneration process.
For anyone not familiar with Grug, his website states that he apparently came from the top of a Burrawang tree and resembles a small haystack. He is fascinated by the world around him and solves everyday problems with creativity and the minimum of fuss.
In this simple story, Grug appreciates that living underground has saved them all from disaster.
Large text set against a white background encourages literacy skills, and the colourful illustrations entertain young readers while at the same time introducing them to a variety of native fauna and the stark effect that bushfire has on the natural environment.
This 35th title in the Grug series encourages young readers to be cautious during the bushfire season, to look after each other, and to care for the environment. The idea for this book was inspired by the 2019 bushfires, which threatened the author’s rural property in New South Wales. Part of the proceeds from the book’s sales will be donated to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.
This would be a useful story to inform and reassure children who live under threat of bushfire; particularly in families making bushfire preparations and evacuation plans. It may also help to inspire junior Landcare regeneration volunteers.
Reviewed by Julie Murphy