oodles of oddities from down under

Today I’ve got three beautiful books, all coming our way from Australia in 2015,  acquainting us with some of the unique creatures trundling about down there. Prepare to be intrigued!

emu cover imageEmu, by Claire Saxby, illustrated by Graham Byrne
first U.S. edition published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

In the open forest, where eucalyptus trees fringe tufty grasslands, honey-pale sunshine seeps to where Emu sits on a nest.

Take a look at that shaggy, giant emu with such a dynamic hairstyle. Isn’t he spectacular?!

There are “eight granite-green eggs” to keep warm, and that’s entirely a job for Mr. Emu. Mama Emu is nowhere to be found. That’s the way it’s done in emu circles.

Once the eggs are laid, female emus have nothing further to do with the hatching or rearing of their young.

emu claire saxby and graham byrne

Follow along with this fellow and his brood and you’ll learn the curiosities involved in hatching emus, which enemies long to snatch emu eggs and hatchlings, how emus fight back!, what they like to eat, and more.

Scratchy, highly-textured, bold illustrations add a marvelous sense of strength and the raw, wild world of nature. An excellent introduction to such a unique bird for ages 4 and older. 

21965585Bilby: Secrets of an Australian Marsupial, by Edel Wignell, illustrated by Mark Jackson
first U.S. edition published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

With it’s long pointy nose, rabbitty ears, and gleaming eyes, the bilby looks like such a cute little fellow.

However, he’s also equipped with sharp teeth, powerful back legs, and some serious claws, so…don’t mess with him!bilby illustration mark jackson

Like all marsupials, Mama Bilby carries her babies in her pouch. They are about “as long as your little toe” when they’re born.

Bilby illustration2 Mark Jackson

Learn about these intriguing, endangered, desert-dwellers in this brief, well-written account. Mark Jackson’s vivid illustrations bring us nose to nose with those bewitching little faces, tuck us into Mama’s burrow, and trot us about the nighttime desert landscape. Ages 3 or 4 and up.

sand-swimmersSand Swimmers: The Secret Life of Australia’s Desert Wilderness, written and illustrated by Narelle Oliver
first U.S. edition published in 2015 by Candlewick Press

Australia’s center is mainly desert, a rusty-red, cracked, parched land. As far as you can see, it looks devoid of life.Sand Swimmers illustration2 narelle Oliver

But it holds many secrets, if you know where to look.

Fairy shrimp eggs lie in wait by the millions, waiting for rain so they can hatch.

Water-holding frogs snuggle in waterproof cocoons deep, deep in the ground, waiting for years and years, perhaps, until rain water trickles its way to them.

Sand Swimmers illustration Narelle OliverMulgaras and gibberbirds, earless dragons and kultarrs — have you ever heard of these guys?! I had not, until I read this fascinating account of the amazing creatures that make their homes in such a perilous environment.

Oliver’s illustrations entice us to pay close attention as she camoflauges the creatures into their habitats, then guides us towards spotting them. Fabulous book for ages 7 and up.

[Note that the title on the image I’ve used is the Australian title. Apparently “dead heart” did not have a nice enough ring for us Americans!]