Title: Tasmanian Devil
Author: Claire Saxby and Max Hamilton
Genre: Nature Storybook
Publisher: Walker Books Australia
Published: 1st June 2022
Synopsis: An engaging addition to the Nature Storybooks series, Tasmanian Devil showcases different elements of the habitat, behaviours, and day to day life of one of Australia’s most famous marsupials.
In Tasmanian Devil award-winning author Claire Saxby and talented artist Max Hamilton tell the story of two imps, or young devils. As the book progresses the brother and sister grow and venture further from the den, exploring more and more of their world in this stunning Nature Storybook.
A whiskered snout appears in the mouth of a wombat burrow, but it is not a wombat. It is a Tasmanian devil in a borrowed den. Behind her in the blue-burrow depths, two imps curl, big enough to leave behind, small enough to need her care.
Claire Saxby’s latest picture book explores the lives of a family of Tasmanian devils, and what happens to the babies – called imps – when mum doesn’t come home. How do they survive? Where do they go? All these questions and more are asked as Claire tells their story, and intersperses it with facts about Tasmanian devils to help teach readers about this endangered species in Australia.
The combination of fact and fiction makes the story accessible, and easy to read – and I think perfect for school-aged kids exploring Australian flora and fauna, and allows readers to gain an insight into the world of the Tasmanian devil, whilst learning about it. The way the story is told is sensitive and touching, and I kept hoping for a good outcome for the little imps whose mother leaves them. Claire does an exceptional job explaining what the imps do and how Tasmanian devils learn to be in their world in the fictional parts and the non-fiction parts, so the seamless story comes together in a wonderful way to give readers a sense of what their lives are like.
I loved that it drew on fiction and non-fiction, coming together as creative non-fiction to help foster learning. It is told like a fictional story, but using facts and a real-world scenario to enrich what is going on and make it fun for younger readers who might not be quite ready for a wholly non-fiction account, or for those readers seeking something to start their research in a unique and intriguing fashion. It is the sort of book that I think I would have been drawn to as a kid, and that would hopefully have helped me with further research.
Max Hamilton’s accompanying illustrations are exquisite and capture the beauty of the Tasmanian wilderness and the lives that the Tasmanian devils lead in the borrowed den and what happens when they eventually leave to find their own, solitary way in the world. It is a beautiful book that teaches readers of all ages something, and has two pages of facts and a glossary at the end to help readers engage with the story further as well as giving them an in to go and do further research from other sources.
Australian creators are bringing out some wonderful picture books at the moment across a variety of genres and styles, so I am finding it very hard to choose a favourite. There are too many to choose from and I love that they can appeal to all ages, because you’re never too old for a picture book. There are always going to be some best suited to older readers or younger readers, but we can all enjoy them, and I definitely recommend this one if you or readers in your life have an interest in Australian wildlife, because it is one that I fell in love with and hope that others will enjoy reading it as well.