Life goes on as usual in an ordinary street in an ordinary town – until Rufus the numbat decides to pass through. Then there is disruption on a grand scale. All it takes is one person to be tipped off-balance – well, off their bike, actually – to set in motion a sequence of catastrophes. And does Rufus care? Is he even aware of the trail of discombobulation he’s left behind him? Of course not. For after all, Rufus the numbat loves a quiet life, the songs of birds, the rustle of leaves. He’s only interested in what lies ahead, and maybe a few termites along the way.
As always, David Miller has created another masterpiece with his famous paper sculptures set against pen and ink backgrounds. The whole book has a three-dimensional feel, and Rufus is – exquisite. Make that – adorable.
The droll minimalist text works cleverly with the detail of Miller’s illustrations to get the message across. This is a story of slapstick proportions; but it bears a serious message. There is a role reversal here. What would happen if animals infringed on the lives of humans? It makes for lively discussion on the issue of protecting animal habitats and minimising the human footprint on them.
Rufus the Numbat is a delightfully endearing book that packs a punch. Recommended.
Ford Street Publishing 2010
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 25, Issue 4, September 2010)