It’s a Miroocool
Little Hare, 2012
hbk, RRP $A24.99
Audrey Barlow has reached one of the milestones of childhood – she has lost her first tooth! But Audrey lives in the outback, many kilometres from the Tooth Fairy’s usual nightly route, so how will she find her way to Audrey’s bedside and the billy containing that precious prize? Because Audrey is clever, she has lots of ideas and spends the day making sure that the Tooth Fairy will find her and goes to bed knowing she has done as much as she can to guide the fairy. But she doesn’t count on the fickleness of nature, and during the night all her plans are wrecked. Will she wake up disappointed and disbelieving in a tradition that has been around for decades? The ending is magical – so much better than a gold coin or whatever inflation has put the value of a tooth at, these days. (Miss 6 has her first wobbly one, so I wonder if she will also treasure the Tooth Fairy’s gift in the same way, when the time comes. I will give her this book!)
Many students are familiar with this lovable wonderful character through the “Audrey of the Outback” novels that Christine Harris has created, so to see a hardback picture book story will just delight them. And if this is their first introduction to her, then the promise of a series of novels to read afterwards will be greeted with anticipation. Audrey brings a particular slice of Australian life to the lives of children who will probably never experience it for themselves. Just HOW could you guide the Tooth Fairy to your house when it’s not even marked on a map? In fact, Audrey’s ideas had such an impact on Miss 6 that now, when she has a problem, we ask “What would Audrey do?”
The whole is brought to life by the remarkable artwork of Ann James which complements the story perfectly. Even the youngest reader is able to envisage the isolation of Audrey, feel the dryness, and delight in the solutions that Audrey thinks of. The medium, colours and style work so well together to convey the landscape, the actions, the mood and atmosphere that this is the perfect author/illustrator match. We could feel Audrey’s concern when she realises her predicament; feel her delight and excitement as she carries out her plans and thinks she has all bases covered; and her anguish as Mother Nature rears her head. These pictures are drawn by someone who has lived Audrey’s life.
Apart from the value in having the readers predict how Audrey might solve her problem, this book has a particular place on library shelves just because of its setting. It is a rich springboard for a compare-and-contrast exercise about how children in rural and remote Australia do the everyday things that children everywhere must do. It’s a superb introduction to helping children understand that theirs is not the only life led. There’s even a song written and sung by Bill Marsh to accompany it available that incorporates images that complement the artwork and take the children to where Audrey lives. Teaching notes for a range of themes that could be explored are available and Audrey even has her own blog and website.
This is the perfect present for the child who has just lost their first tooth – a wonderful way to remember and one which definitely deserves a place on the shelves.