Monday, August 15, 2016

Nonfiction Monday: Platypus by Sue Whiting, illustrated by Mark Jackson

It's here! It's here! Candlewick has been publishing an amazing series of nonfiction picture books about Australian animals and there's finally one on the platypus! Now all I need is one on the wombat for true happiness...

The narrative begins with a pond in the shade of gum trees and a mysterious duck bill poking out of a hole. But it's not a duck; it's a platypus! The story takes us through a typical night for a platypus, from early evening to sunrise. The platypus dives, feeds, and hides from predators, and briefly encounters his mate and pups. Throughout the story, additional information about the platypus is included and we learn about their habits, diet, and unique adaptations. There is an additional spread on the oddities of the platypus and their current threats (pollution etc.) and a quick introduction to their reproductive cycle. There is also a brief index.

The mixed media illustrations are very swirly and muddy. It's a perfect medium for a creature that's most active at night, diving into a weedy pond and camouflaging itself among reeds and undergrowth. There are a couple spreads where the text is difficult to decipher against the convoluted background, and if you are looking for photo-realistic images this is not the best choice, but I like the atmospheric illustrations.

Verdict: Part of me thinks I should focus more on getting kids to recognize local/more familiar animals (still haven't forgotten that kid who id'd an otter as a walrus or that 98% of the classes I visited said the biggest bird in the world was an eagle even after I told them it didn't fly, never mind the one who said our hamster was a beaver) but it's so fun to introduce kids - and adults - to animals they may have never heard of or know little about. I just love this series and it's delightful to see the kid's faces when they learn all about the strange creatures in Australia. Recommended.

ISBN: 9780763680985; Published 2016 by Candlewick (US publication); Borrowed from another library in my consortium


Annette Bay Pimentel said...

I wonder if Candlewick is selling these in Australia, too?
But I agree that they're beautiful and engagingly written.

Jennifer said...

They were originally published in Australia - that's why the notation says "US publication" (not exactly clear, I know!)