Rainbow the Koala

Rainbow the Koala

Rainbow the Koala











Rainbow the Koala

Remy Lai

A&U Children’s, 2022

112pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99


It is time for Rainbow the Koala to become more independent and so, after a year of being nurtured and comforted and provided for, he has to say goodbye to his mother and venture off on his own- find a new tree, seek his own food and generally be the adult he was destined to be.  But it’s not easy – for starters,  it’s not just a matter of climbing the nearest tree and calling it his.  It has to be the right species and unoccupied and with the way land is being cleared for humans and the drying landscape making them less nutritious,  there are not so many of the just-rights available.  Waterholes made by humans can be treacherous, dogs are not always the koala’s best friend and the smell of smoke on the air is a signal for alarm…

This is the first in a new graphic novel series called Surviving the Wild designed to make young readers more aware of the environment by viewing it through the lenses of those creatures that live in it.  The new NSW English syllabus, particularly, requires students to be able to “to express opinions about texts and issues… both objectively and subjectively”, so as well as empathising with Rainbow as they, too, face having to step out of their comfort zone to navigate the new world of school; meeting new people who, like Kookaburra, may not be as friendly as they expect, and having to solve problems for themselves, they also learn about the perils of things like habitat destruction, climate change, drought…  Being in the shoes of the main character, in this case a koala which automatically has inbuilt appeal,  helps them be more engaged and understand the situation better, hopefully inspiring them to become not only more aware but more active in environmental protection.  Inspired by the devastating bushfires of the 2019.2020 summer in which it’s estimated over one billion creatures were lost, there are extra pages explaining the origins of Rainbow’s predicament as well as ways that the reader can help by making simple, everyday changes. 

Hallmarks of quality literature include having characters and a plot which are engaging and interesting for the students, offering layers and levels of complexity that are revealed with multiple readings and which enrich discussion and challenge perceptions, thinking and attitudes.  This certainly does that and young readers will look forward to Star the Elephant which is already published and Sunny the Shark due in August. 




Emergency Emergency

Emergency Emergency

Emergency! Emergency!











Emergency! Emergency!

Rhiân Williams

Tom Jellett

Wild Dog, 2022

32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99


Sadly, our youngest readers are becoming all too familiar with emergency vehicles as they rush around the cities and the countryside in these times of floods and fire and other devastating events.  For many, it is the sight of those familiar uniforms that bring relief and hope as well as help.

In this rhyming story with its bold, colourful pictures, young readers discover that there are many more vehicles in the fleet beyond the usual fire trucks, police cars and ambulances as they are introduced to jet skis, helicopters, water bombers, drones and even the RFDS as each plays a unique role in particular situations from clifftop rescues to getting people off their rooftops.  

However, as entertaining and engaging as the book is, it is the teachers’ notes that really add extra value as they guide both parents and teachers through raising the issues of “what if” with their young children including keeping themselves and their pets safe; the role of 000 and when to use it; knowing what to do in case of a fire, being lost, and other critical situations they might find themselves; and preparing for a disaster.  Simple things like knowing your name, address and phone number to tell a police officer, or having a password that must be said if a stranger talks to you can be life-saving but can also be neglected as we hope they’re never needed. While the story itself touches on calling 000 it is these additional activities that open up essential conversations in a non-threatening scenario that add depth and make this book a valuable addition to a family’s safety preparations. Even moreso because its focus is on the familiar vehicles and people that we see in Australia. 

Hopefully, like learning CPR, there is never a need for them to use their knowledge but as the saying goes, better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. 


Tyenna: Through My Eyes - Australian Disaster Zones

Tyenna: Through My Eyes – Australian Disaster Zones












Through My Eyes – Australian Disaster Zones

Julie Hunt & Terry Whitebeach

A & U Children’s, 2022

208pp., pbk., RRP $A16.99


They huddle low, nostrils burning from the smoke. A wave of despair flows over Tye. Nothing will survive this firestorm. The bush and everything she loves will be lost.

It’s the summer holidays, and Tye is staying at her grandparents’ lodge at Chancy’s Point in Tasmania’s beautiful Central Highlands. But her plans for fun with best friend Lily and working on her pencil pine conservation project are thwarted as fire threatens the community and the bush she loves – and when Tye discovers Bailey, a runaway boy hiding out, she is torn between secretly helping him and her loyalty to her grandparents.

As the fire comes closer and evacuation warnings abound, Tye is caught up in the battle of her life. Will she and Bailey survive? What will happen to her beloved pencil pines and the wildlife at risk? Can she and her close-knit community make a difference in a world threatened by climate change?

This is the latest in this series that offers fictionalised accounts of world events that help our older, independent readers not only understand what happened but allows them to process it.  By giving each story a central character such as Lyla who endured the devastating Christchurch earthquake in 2011, the story becomes one of courage, resilience and hope rather than an historical recount with meaningless facts and figures. It offers the ‘colour and detail’ to the stark monochrome sketches of news reports, websites and other information-only sources.  

Like its predecessors, Tyenna is a well-written, well-researched blend of imagination and information that above all, tells a story of one girl’s experience -sadly one similar to that of  so many of our students who faced that dreadful Black Summer of 2019-2020 when the whole of the east coast of the country seem to be alight – and shows that it is OK to have been scared and fearful, but that natural human resilience can prevail. The first to focus on an Australian disaster (it will be joined by Mia later this year), it will resonate with many in one way or another and thus, if you have a system that places trigger warnings in your books, this may be one to consider.  

While we would all like to protect our kids from the disasters of modern times, natural or otherwise, that can be an impossible task as the world now comes to them in the palm of their hands, but stories like this can offer insight, understanding and a feeling that they too, have come through the other side – often shaped by it but also more resilient and courageous because of it.