Monday, February 23, 2009

Book Review, Baby Bilby, where do you sleep?

Baby Bilby - The Book ChookWhen I look back over my reviews to date, I see I haven't posted many classified as non-fiction. That's not because I don't like non-fiction books. It's more because there are thousands of wonderful fiction tales out there, and only so many hours in a day.

But some children's non-fiction books definitely make me swoon. My current swoonful book is
Baby Bilby, where do you sleep? by Narelle Oliver, first published by Lothian in 2001,and an honour book in the CBCA AWards: Early Childhood/Picture Book of the Year, 2002.

This marvellous nonfiction picture book reaches out to children from the very young to the young at heart. Simple, rhyming, interactive text is coupled with amazingly detailed illustrations of Australian wildlife. Oliver mentions different Australian animals, and includes each animal's tracks to give us clues, along with a peephole to peek into their habitat, and some "hidden" creatures to find.

"Out in the desert on a hot thirsty day, lots of secret animals are hidden away." We read of bilbies in burrows, geckos in spinifex, hopping mice in sand tunnels, treekeepers in mulga, planigales in clay cracks, and gibber dragons among stones. Despite cunning camouflage, alert eyes will find much more on each page, and there is a key at the back of the book to make sure we spot and identify them all.

It's important to introduce young children to a range of different genres, but not always easy to find brilliant non-fiction books suitable for the very young. Watch out for this one! A great activity to follow it up would be to go bush and hunt for animal and bird tracks. After rain is a good time - try checking near water. Take some plaster of paris along in a container, add water, and make your own plaster cast footprints. Or use Baby Bilby as a model for children's own peephole books.

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