Sue Whiting (text) and Cate James (illustrator), The Echidna Near My Place, Walker Books, March 2022, 32 pp., RRP $26.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781760652401
A young child and her Nana live near a paddock. On their walk they spot an echidna who decides to pay them a visit. What unfolds is an unexpected adventure for all.
Sue Whiting introduces us to the world of the ‘spiny anteater’ in a heart-warming story between a child and her grandmother. Exploring themes such as family, shared experiences, nature, science and Australian animals in their habitat, this is a story combining fact and fiction. Through the use of descriptive and informative storytelling, The Echidna Near My Place is an engaging and memorable read for primary school learners exploring the world of science and geography.
While I am not usually a fan of varying font sizes and styles in a picture book, it is done here with little distraction and in a way that works. It embraces different forms of reading engagement, and cleverly creates two books in one. Readers keen to engage with the story can follow one font style, while those with an interest in facts can follow along with the other. Together it creates a complete reading experience, while acknowledging the different learning styles of young children through its narrative and factual forms.
The visuals are complimentary, and Cate James captures the muted hues of Australian flora and fauna with beautifully detailed illustrations of the echidna in its natural environment.
With a concluding index and information about the echidna, author and illustrator, this is a great addition to the Nature Storybook series and a perfect resource for classrooms and libraries.
Reviewed by Shelley Stephens