Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve
Delight and charm, quite rare in adult fiction, is often used in discussing children’s books. Remy Lai, the young Brisbane based author, has this in abundance in her series ‘Surviving the Wild’.
She has a contract to write three books for the series. These are the first two, which will be eagerly awaited after the success of the previous story of a dog called Pawcasso.
She has a special talent in combining the text with colourful yet simple illustrations, cleverly enhanced by information to interest a child, with the addition of reassuring suggestions for action a young reader may take to help tackle climate change, or in the case of the little elephant, deforestation on a catastrophic scale.
Children love animals so her subjects have instant appeal. A struggling reader would be encouraged by the characteristically minimal text. The pictures could be an aid to decoding the more challenging words such as, ‘trespasser, evacuation, canopies.’ Her clear explanations towards the end, which employ some scientific terms, add a serious note that would please a keen reader in the six to nine age range.
No one can forget the horrors of the fires two years ago and their impact on wildlife is dramatically seen through little Rainbow’s eyes. She becomes aware of the terror of monstrous flames when her only defence is to cling to the highest branch of a tree. Children’s anxiety would be lessened when they learn how people were able to rescue some animals – some koalas had a ride in a helicopter!
Star the Elephant is based on a real event that happened in Malaysia and Singapore in 1990. The colour palette in the illustrations is really striking and is one of the book’s most attractive aspects. She beautifully conveys the a very different world from little Rainbow in her Australian bushfire ravaged country.
Once again, Remy Lai displays her talent for combining text and illustrations with her simple story and line drawings. She adds a more interesting and authentic touch by using words like, ‘tranquilliser, mangroves and mudskipper.’ These devices are bound to encourage a young enthusiastic reader, impressive additions to their ever-growing vocabulary! Her books are an excellent addition to the graphic novels for younger children.
Following the happy ending, there are ideas to improve the plight of elephants in the wild.
Facts about their unique abilities are fascinating – such as being able to hear through their feet! They can detect vibrations up to 16 kms away.
Sunny the Shark is promised as next in the series. It will be eagerly awaited.
Rainbow the Koala
Star the Elephant
by Remy Lai
ISBN 978 176106 545 3
ISBN 978 176052 684 9
$14.99 each; 108pp