HALL, Susan (text) Naomi Zouwer (illus.) The Rescue Ark NLA Pub, 2014 unpaged $18.99 pbk ISBN 9780642278104 SCIS 1674694
The National Library of Australia has published this book ‘to further the Library’s objectives to interpret and highlight the Library’s collections and to support the creative work of the nation’s writers and researchers’. It begins with an Australian style The animals went in two by two. Children gazed gloomily at land that was ruined and dry rivers where creatures would die so they set off in a rescue ark to help animals survive. There was a great din as animals wriggled or flew into the ark, ‘…two by two, Hurrah! Hurrah!’
A map shows a sea journey round Australian shores to the failing habitats. Then double page spreads appear in beautiful colours like sea green, blue, purple, lime green. The author progressively adds song lyric type verses. Zouwer has developed port hole shaped collages, from cut out papers and delicate coloured sketches, to depict the newly included animals described on each page.
Even a very young audience will enjoy the narrative or singing the song. However, the second part of the book needs more advanced responses. It introduces the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and shows factual documentation for each of the threatened species. The notes are authenticated and accompanied by recent photographs and art works, or illustrations by John Gould (1804-1881) and lithographer Henry Constantine Richter (1821-1902). This polished publication combines several genres in an unusual way.
reviewed by Elspeth Cameron