Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Koala Bounces Back - Jimmy Thomson and Eric Lobbecke

What sorts of adventures could a koala with a special ability to bounce get up to when all seems peaceful in his small corner of the world? After saving some children from a fire and finding a safe home for all his koala friends, you’d think a quiet life of munching on eucalyptus leaves would be the main thing on the agenda. But when a gang of moggies moves in to the bush, life gets troublesome for Karri and his friends. So when parrot and bilby plead with Karri to tell the cats to clear off, he does. But where can the cats go? They’ve been dumped by their owners and have nowhere to live. Jinksy and Scar don’t take kindly to their eviction orders and it looks like a stand-off – until someone suggests a football match. If the cats win, they stay; if they lose, they go. Are Karri and his bush friends able to pull it off? Will Karri have enough bounce?

This book is a sequel to The Koala Who Bounced, Thomson and Lobbecke’s first joint venture, published in 1993. A second edition of the original book has been published to coincide with the release of The Koala Bounced Back.

Lobbecke’s bold, colourful and expressive illustrations work together well with the text, adding nuances to the story as well as breathing animation and humour into it. There are traces of Lobbecke’s cartooning in the cast of characters, who young children will be drawn to for their vibrancy and warmth. Karri is immediately likeable and the moggies delightfully mean, roguish, and endearing.

The story deals well with the issue of feral animals and their threat to wildlife, introducing young readers to this aspect of conservation. And Thomson comes up with an original solution to the problem of the homeless cats.

The Koala Bounces back is a book children will enjoy and return to often.
Random House 2011
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 26, Issue 4, September 2011)

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