Midnight Sun, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99
Once, creatures of all shapes and sizes wandered this empty land. They had horns and wings, scales and feathers. They lived in vibrant forests, desert plains and icy tundras. But where are they now?
This is an evocative picture book, lyrically written and sublimely illustrated, that introduces young children to a host of the creatures that have inhabited this planet over the millennia but which have now disappeared, often because of the impact of humans on their habitat or a desire to own what they offered. But this book goes further than the extinction of its creatures for it warns that humans with their cities and all that they consume will also disappear.
“The humans learned about their past. But they didn’t learn enough from it.”
But there is also hope that perhaps once the humans have gone, the creatures will emerge again.
The recent criticism against the students who chose to display their anger through a national strike about the inaction of governments and corporates towards climate change really angered me. Rather than asking themselves why the students felt compelled to take this action, those self-styled “social commentators” and politicians just demonstrated their ignorance about what our students are concerned about, what they are learning in schools through curricula that they, the politicians, have put in place, and the emphasis placed on transferring what has been learned into action. As well as ignorance, they also showed their arrogance in thinking that they know better and are the only ones with “solutions” to fix things.
The publication of Vanishing at this time is very timely and it should be an essential element of any study focusing on sustainability of the landscape so that, regardless of their age, they can “learn enough from it”. Enough for them to continue asking questions, to examine their own beliefs and practices, to encourage others to think about the then as well as the now, to take the action they did and to maintain it until the changes are stopped if not reversed, and to not give into a future of doom and gloom. To show those who were of a similar mindset when they were students, that there are more important things than those that they now worship, particularly in a country that is among those with the worst rate of animal species extinction in the world.
A comparison of the front and back end-pages should be enough to pique the interest but further teaching notes are available here.