Lothian Children’s, 2020
32pp., pbk., RRP $A15.99
In the warm waters of a shallow bay, a dugong calf is born…and as she learns to swim and eat and pull up the seagrasses of her diet, she learns the stories of long ago, the legends of mermaids. She learns the dangers of reef predators and what to do when they are near, but nothing can teach her about the dangers posed by the humans who treat her home as their personal playground…
With illustrations and a colour palette as soft and gentle as the underwater world. this is a wonderful introduction to one of our least-known creatures that is so mysterious and in need of protection. As well as the fact page at the end, it has a strong environmental message, offering a new topic on which to kickstart an investigation into our impact on the environment with comprehensive teachers’ notes available to assist with this. With winter knocking on the door, this might not be the time we are thinking about the ocean and its creatures, but that just means there is more time to think and act before next summer. Maybe the dugongs will be able to tell their young of the stories and legends, because of the consideration of our young, and maybe dugongs won’t be just part of the stories and legends we tell.