Lyrebird stories

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Jodie Mcleod (text), and Eloise Short (illustrator), Leonard the Lyrebird, King Street Press, September 2018, 32pp., RRP $16.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780994450753

Jodie Mcleod (text), and Eloise Short (illustrator), Lilah the Lyrebird, King Street Press, December 2020, 32pp., RRP $24.95 (hbk), ISBN 9780646824444

Both these books are written and illustrated by award-winning author, Jodie McLeod, and artist, Eloise Short, who are familiar with the Australian bush, specifically the Blue Mountains whose prominent features are named and illustrated. The first book introduces Leonard who, like all male lyrebirds, loves to perform – to sing and dance and to imitate the sounds of other bush creatures, including birds, possums, dingoes, and the fabled bunyip. Although singing makes him happy and saves him from scary situations, he longs for a mate and is delighted to welcome Lilah, the heroine of the second book. Having no confidence, she refuses to sing until a rapidly approaching fire forces her to find her voice so that she can warn all the bush creatures to flee to the safety of a waterhole.

The text of both – a mix of prose and verse – is set in a variety of styles. The illustrations of the numerous animals are accurate and colourful, providing fun for young readers to identify. The first book includes notes on the lyrebird and bunyip while the second has notes on female lyrebirds, bushfires, and protecting the bush.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Douglas

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