Inside the CBCA Shortlist
The bandicoot is a fascinating Australian native animal but is often forgotten, overshadowed by kangaroos, koalas, platypuses and wombats – the animals in books like Alison Lester’s shortlisted Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey.
The Easter Barred Bandicoot is, of course, featured in this book. At times it is important to focus on one animal only in books although Australian native animal compendiums also serve a purpose.
Illustrator Coral Tulloch has an enviable backlist which includes One Small Island, written by Alison Lester and Antarctica. Her previous book with Rohan Cleave, Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, was a CBCA Honour information book and their new collaboration, Bouncing Back is narrative nonfiction in picture book form. It is told in first person from the Eastern Barred Bandicoot’s point of view and begins by explaining that this species is only found in Australia and that We are also one of Australia’s most threatened species, and in great danger of being lost forever.
Descriptions, such as the striped pattern on the rump of the bandicoot and interesting facts such as female fertility at three months are explained in appropriate language for young children. This is followed by the crux of the book – the impact of cleared and destroyed habitats on the bandicoot, causing its endangered status. It is now extinct in Victoria and threatened in Tasmania, where it has been living in tips. Ironically, unnatural environments where humans dispose of their rubbish have produced protective habitats. Recognising the dire situation of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, people have now intervened by erecting fences to shield their natural environments and deter predators; by training protective Maremma dogs and by relocating some colonies to small islands.
A detailed block of information and a glossary are also provided at the end.
Bouncing Back is published by CSIRO Publishing.
Using the book with children:
Marsupials Bandicoots are marsupials. What are marsupials?
[mammals that raise their young in an external pouch]
Research more about bandicoots, including types other than the Eastern Barred Bandicoot.
In small groups, select another small marsupial to research, e.g. quoll, numbat, Tasmanian devil, dunnart, bilby. Present findings on recycled paper.
Bandicoot Prints View the illustrations of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot prints at the start of Bouncing Back. Students use fingers, sticks and other tools to make replicas of these imprints in clay.
Read Rohan Cleave and Coral Tulloch’s first book, Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, a former CCA Honour title; One Small Island about Macquarie Island by Alison Lester & Coral Tulloch; Noni the Pony Rescues a Joey by Alison Lester; books by Narelle Oliver, e.g Baby Bilby Where do you sleep? and Sand Swimmers for animal tracks; Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks by Gina M. Newton, Australian Backyard Explorer/Naturalist by Peter Macinnis, A-Z of Endangered Animals by Jennifer Cossins.