Ratty’s Big Adventure

Ratty’s Big Adventure
Lara Hawthorne
Big Picture Press

In the rainforests of Papua New Guinea is Mount Bosavi, the collapsed cone of a volcano that hasn’t erupted for more than 200, 000 years. This is the setting for Lara Hawthorne’s book which is a flawless fusion of fact and fiction and the home of Ratty, a giant woolly rat and one of the biggest creatures residing in the volcano.

Ratty lives a peaceful slow-paced life until one day while climbing up to the top of a tree to procure a juicy-looking fruit he sees before him the most awesome sight he’s ever set eyes on: the world beyond his crater where there surely must be more delectable fruits, sweeter-singing birds and larger, brighter, better dancing insects.

Eschewing the invitation of his friends to join their games Ratty hurries off in search of more interesting playmates. Following the stream to the wall of the crater, he finds himself swept into a dark cave and eventually out of the crater, leaving the warning echoes of his friends behind. Finding himself in a fast flowing river, Ratty clings to a piece of floating bark as he passes fruit trees, birds and insects not very different from those in the crater.

Eventually Ratty finds himself face to face with the biggest creature he’s ever seen: a huge, sharp-toothed, almost overly friendly animal that invites the traveller to join her for dinner.

At this point Ratty realises that after all, it’s a case of east, west, home’s best; assuredly there’s no place quite like his own. Back he goes but what will he say to his friends?

This gorgeously illustrated story was inspired by recent scientific breakthroughs at Mount Bosavi, in which over 40 new species of flora and fauna including amazing butterflies and exotic birds, were identified. many of which are included in Lara’s superbly detailed scenes.

Additional factual spreads at the end give details of the Bosavi woolly rat, a pictorial map of the researchers’ journey and ‘did you spot … ? showing more than ten of Mount Bosavi’s unique animals.

The richness and diversity of life are something we all should celebrate and this book will encourage young listeners and readers to do just that as they follow Ratty’s journey, which outlines the journey of the team of researchers that found their way into the volcano.

Silent Night

Silent Night
Lara Hawthorne
Lincoln Children’s Books

One of the world’s favourite Christmas carols, composed 200 hundred years ago in Austria and now with UNESCO cultural heritage status, is given a beautiful pictorial rendition by author/illustrator Lara Hawthorne.

Her beautiful, richly patterned illustrations stand out against an inky, star speckled night sky telling the nativity story using just the English translation of Joseph Mohr’s words.

We see Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem, settle themselves in the stable and the baby – the holy infant – is born.

Thereafter come spreads of the announcement of the birth to the shepherds by a heavenly host

and their visitation to see the Christ child.

The Three Kings’ journey following the star and their presentation of the gifts take up the next three spreads

and in the final three we see animals of all kinds, drawn to the stable over which the star shines and joining the humans in a joyful celebration.

Any one of Lara’s spreads would make a superb Christmas card.

The book concludes with notes about the origins of the carol and the words (though not the music) of the carol.

A gorgeous Christmas offering.