Laura Bunting (text), and Philip Bunting (illustrator), Liarbird, Omnibus Books, September 2019, 32 pp., RRP $17.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781743831571
Lyre bird is a great liar, he can make himself sound like a koala, he fibs about dropbears, he fakes flying, he fabricates trips to Mars and creates fake news in the ‘Gum Tree Gazette’. “Fibbing is fun and it never gets you into trouble”. That is until his lie lands him in trouble with a fox.
The Bunting author, illustrator duo of Laura and Philip have created the picture book Liarbird; a modern and Australian take on The Boy who cried Wolf. With charming Australian animal characters, and the Bunting trademark fun approach, the book explores the tricky subject of honesty in a format suitable for young children (aged 4+). I liked that the story dealt with the two sides of honesty; when it is not okay to lie but also when it is better not to tell the truth. Whilst the painfully honest comments lyre bird makes are sure to amuse, they also illustrate an important aspect of emotional intelligence for young children.
Philip Bunting’s distinctive and appealing illustrations complement the story beautifully. The simple, folksy style of the animal characters is charming and clever layout choices of close-ups and sequential strips work to really engage the reader in the action. The restrained natural colour palette is also a good choice and helps maintain a balance between illustrations and text.
Lyre bird’s chatty voice predominantly narrates the story, using Australian colloquialisms and unique combinations of words, it makes for a fun and stimulating read. The text offers several language learning opportunities; homophones (Lyre bird/Liar bird), synonyms (lying, faking, fabricating, fibbing), colloquialisms (porky pies, crikey), and ‘f’ words (fought off fifteen foxes).
Liarbird is a quality picture book in many aspects. It has a strong message, wonderful illustrations and entertaining text. It is sure to be appreciated by young and old alike.
Reviewed by Julie Bertola