Samantha Wheeler, Mister Cassowary, University of Queensland Press, 23 Sept 2015, 170pp., $14.95 (pbk), ISBN 978-0-7022-5388-1
Flynn and his dad set off to Grandad Barney’s farm. Grandad Barney died about a year ago and the neglected property needs fixing up so it can be sold. Flynn doesn’t know very much about Grandad Barney and Flynn’s family refuse to tell him.
As Flynn wanders around the deserted farmhouse looking for clues about his grandfather’s life, he notices a framed certificate that says: To Mister Cassowary. From your feathered friends at the Cassowary Rehabilitation Centre. In Appreciation. Flynn is determined to find out what this is all about.
There are two stories effortlessly interwoven in this easy to read book – a story of fathers and sons and a story about the ancient, endangered Cassowary. It is 10 year old Flynn’s story – a likable lad who is navigating the fine line between doing as he is told and finding answers to his many questions. As situations occur, and with the help of his new friend, Abby, the hidden family history unfolds. This not only strengthens the bond between Flynn and his Dad, it creates a positive environmental outcome for the Cassowary.
This book is a great quiet reader as well as being suitable for reading out loud to 5 to 8 year olds – boys and girls – who are sure to involve themselves in the children’s adventures. The chapters are concise and event based so the story moves along at a steady pace with a few dramatic events to keep it lively. By focussing on dialogue, Wheeler has negated the need for lengthy descriptions of characters and place, both of which are equally important to this storyline. The additional information about Cassowaries in a special section at the end of the book makes it an excellent resource for projects and for children (and parents) who want to know more.
Reviewed by Jennifer Mors