Written by Claire Saxby
Illustrated by Graham Byrne
Candlewick Press, 2015, 32 pp.
For in the emu’s world, it is the male’s job to raise the fledglings. (n.p).
The emu is a fascinating bird. Unable to fly like most birds, emus adapt to life on the ground. As tall as humans, these birds are fast and often outrun any predator that might be interested in fowl for dinner. And while the adult bird can outrun its predators, the young need help and thus adult males can be very protective.
This informational book describes an emu’s world from the very beginning of their lives with their fathers to the time when they, too, are ready to mate and carry on the species. Part of the series Nature Storybooks, this wonderful picture book presents both narrative and factual information in two distinctive fonts on each two page spread. From the beckoning cover through the index, Emu is sure to engage readers aesthetically while educating them about the male emu, as the female emu leaves once her eggs are laid. The illustrator uses ink with a twig and sponges, and then digital collaging, so the book is both colorful and graphically stimulating.
Emu would make a terrific addition to a text set on birds, Australia, or gender roles across species. Other books that would pair nicely with Emu could include Elizabeth Thwing’s (2014) Amazing Amusing Emus: Yesterday’s Dinosaurs on Today’s Farm and Marianne Berkes’ (2011) Over in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under. The illustrations could inspire young artists and their interest in technology.
Claire Saxby lives in Australia and has written numerous books for young people, including There was an Old Sailor (2014), winner of the Crystal Kite Award. More information about Saxby’s life can be found here and on her website.
Graham Bryne is an artist who has also worked as an electrical engineer and builder. Born in Sydney, Australia, his first picture book, Big Red Kangaroo (2015), was also written by Claire Saxby. More information about can be found through his blog and on the Walker Books website. The blogspot would be of special interest to those interested in Byrne’s illustrating processes at the Walker Books website.
Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati