Reviewed by Maria Gill
I have to confess I love environmental picture books, whether they’re fictional or creative non-fiction style. Just recently I received a copy of ‘One Small Island’ by Alison Lester and Coral Tulloch, published in Australia. The cover is embossed with muted green and grey colours – your eye drawn to look at what the ducks are looking at – one small island. Turn the page and you’re treated to ancient maps and illustrated text boxes about Macquarie Island.
The story begins on page 2 and 3:
Macquarie Island lies in the Southern Ocean,
between Antarctica and New Zealand.
A speck of green in the vast, windswept sea, it is a haven
for many creatures that live above and below the waves.
The story is simply told about the history of Macquarie Island starting from its volcanic origins, leading on to how animals and plants existed in a fragile balance until humans discovered the island. Sealers then came to kill the seals in their thousands for their fur, and once they were exhausted they killed elephant seals then penguins for their oil. The sealers brought their own animals to the island and they too wreaked their destruction. Slowly by slowly the fauna and flora was destroyed. Then in 1911 Douglas Mawson’s Antarctic team stopped at Macquarie Island; they were shocked to see the cruel practices of the penguin oil industry and called for the protection of the island’s wildlife. Find out about the programme that helped restore the balance on the island again.The illustrations are stunning, the text boxes comprehensive and the design – a stand-out. Just what you need for such an important topic: the importance of saving our small islands.
Highly recommended for Primary and Intermediate classes. I would suggest that teachers start their environmental unit by reading this book aloud to their class. This poignant story with its rich illustrations will give a true picture to children about such an important topic.