Diprotodon: A Megafauna Journey
CSIRO Publishing, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Despite being about the size of a modern rhinoceros, prehistoric Diprotodon faced many challenges from both the harsh environment and other megafauna that roamed central Australia during the Ice Age of the Pleistocene Epoch. Separated from his mother and his herd, he needs to stay safe, and find shelter, food and water in the barren landscape blasted by icy winds and dried up by drought as so much water is now stored in the ice caps.
This narrative non fiction story introduces students to these ancestors of the wombat while opening up so many other worlds to explore such as the creatures it shared the continent with and their evolution to those we know today as well as the causes and impact of the climate change that plunged the world into lower temperatures, as opposed to the warmer ones we are experiencing now. Beautifully and accurately illustrated by Andrew Plant, it includes some brief, easily readable facts which expand the story, as well as teachers’ notes that suggest ways to explore further.
It could also be used in conjunction with both Dippy’s Big Day Out and Dippy and the Dinosaurs as a way to compare fiction and non fiction, contrasting the two different purposes (imagination vs information) but discovering how much they share. What did both authors and illustrators need to know about the diprotodon and how and where it lived to create the stories they did? Even though they are written for a similar audience, how do the language, structure and illustrations change for each format?
Young readers have a fascination with dinosaurs and megafauna, often opening that first door into the world of non fiction for them, and this one is an ideal addition to that collection.