Rusty, the Rainbow Bird
32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99
It is the dry season in the northern reaches of Australia, a tough time for tiny Gouldian Finches like Rusty who watches the waterhole shrink knowing that, like all finches, he needs to drink several times a day. But Rusty is lucky, for he has met Olive and after an energetic courtship dance during which he displays displays the magnificent colours that belie his name – a bright green back, yellow belly, a purple breast and black face (although Olive is the rarer red-faced version) – together they build a nest in a hollow tree and get ready to raise their young, adding to the population of these endangered birds. It is hard work feeding six always-hungry mouths but it’s made easier because each baby, although naked and blind, has a colourful pattern on its mouth so its parents can see it in the dark of the hollow.
But even more dire than the shrinking water hole which means that Rusty and Olive have to fly further and further to find the insects and seeds to feed their babies, is the fire that is roaring across the countryside…
This is the third in this series about Australia’s lesser-known endangered species and like its predecessors, Poppy, the Punk Turtle and Coco, the fish with hands both author and artist have created a perfect text attractive and accessible to its intended audience of young readers with a curiosity about the natural world around them. The colour and simplicity of the illustrations catch the eye immediately (as would a Gouldian Finch) and the story written in simple but accurate vocabulary which respects their intelligence, supported by fact boxes, is ideal for introducing young readers to a world beyond their own.
This is an essential collection of stories for any parent or teacher wanting to expand their child’s horizons so they understand that there are many creatures in the environment that need both help and protection from us, and we have a responsibility to them all, no matter how small or obscure.