Cara Schultz has written a terrific review of Stories from the Wildworld in the latest issue of Australian Birdlife magazine. It’s my first book review ever, and I can only hope that future reviews will be just as generous and affirming!
This utterly charming children’s book from writer, artist and ecologist Paula Peeters is gentle delight that may entertain parents just as much as their kids. Conceived of as a collection of fables or fairy-tales about our native animals and plants and how they work, Stories from the Wildworld follows Suzy Swamphen as she discovers her tribe and helps Pip the Squirrel Glider and Roo the Kangaroo as they battle to save Pip’s bushland home from being bulldozed.
Inspired by the real-life Second Lagoon, in the Brisbane suburb of Sandgate, the bushland destruction and wildlife displacement associated with the ‘upgrade’ of the Gateway Motorway, and the planned clearing of bushland in Carseldine, Peeters has created a compelling fantasy world about animals surviving in an often hostile urban environment and says she “loves the idea that one of these tiny creatures might try to fight back.”
The book is chock-a-block with charming characters, including Maxine the Magpie, who is part of a secret network of birds and animals that spy on humans, Blue Gum, a 198-year-old eucalyptus who likes rain and sunlight and dislikes cyclones, and a host of other familiar but enchanting backyard wildlife.
The characters find further life in the lovely black-and-white line drawings that Peeters has sprinkled throughout the pages, which are sure to draw in younger readers, while the fables are gently instructional, in the best tradition of fairy-tales everywhere. They include stories about a bird helping a kangaroo to find its hop, and a tree that tries to live forever and learns the value of community.
Peeters has created a very bewitching magical world, and one that provides a unique insight into suburban Australian backyards and urban spaces and the pressures they face.
By Cara Schultz, Australian Birdlife March 2019
Explore the Wildworld Books website for character profiles, cartoons, book excerpts and more.