The Journey Home

The Journey Home
Frann Preston-Gannon
Pavilion Books

The conservation message of this tenth anniversary edition of Frann’s thought-provoking picture book is even more urgent now than when it was first published.

It begins with a Polar Bear, forced to leave home when the ice has melted and there’s no longer any food. As he swims he comes upon a small boat, climbs in and sets out he knows not where. Soon he discovers a city and there on the dockside is a Panda. The Panda climbs into the boat and they sail off together. Some time later they see an Orangutan, now without any jungle and Panda invites her to join them.

Suddenly Orangutan notices an Elephant that is endeavouring to hide from tusk-stealing hunters. Then there are four packed into that tiny boat and before long a storm brews up carrying then far, far away from all their homes.

Eventually the boat approaches an island upon which stands a Dodo.

The sailors explain their plight, saying that they really want to go home. “Well of course you can go home!” comes the reply … “You can go home when the trees grow back and when the ice returns and when the cities stop getting bigger and when the hunting stops.” What choice do they really have but to stay put and as the Dodo suggests, “Let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

We adult readers know what the Dodo’s fate was, but it need not be the same for Polar Bear, Panda, Orangutan and Elephant. Yes the story, with its beautifully executed collage illustrations in a muted colour palette, is pretty bleak; and as we discover in a factual section after the narrative, all these wonderful creatures are either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. However all is not lost thanks to the work being done on their behalf by various organisations and individuals. To that end, the final page has ideas about what young readers and their families (or classes) can do to help the environment.

One Little Bird

One Little Bird
Sheryl Webster and Helen Shoesmith
Oxford University Press

Rosa the robin isn’t one to stand by and do nothing when a man chops down the tree in which she’s nesting. Rather than finding another tree as the fellow says, she snatches up his hat, flies to his chimney and proceeds to nest therein.

She doesn’t leave things there either. Instead, she issues a rallying cry, “Animals, everywhere! We must stop people from taking our homes!”

Before long, Rosa is the talk of the forest, the tropical jungle, the grasslands, and the animal residents thereof, having lost their own homes, move into those of the destructive humans who have made them homeless.

Needless to say this infuriates the fellers, the jungle clearers and the road builders and eventually both animals and humans are incensed. The news gets back to Rosa and she realises that things have to change: surely a harmonious co-existence is possible.

Again Rosa sends her words over land and sea, summoning both animals and humans to a meeting and having heard both sides say exactly the same thing, she delivers a stark reminder to the destroyers of the animals’ homes.
From that day on, things begin to change for the better …

Sheryl Webster’s Rosa certainly had the courage of her convictions in this fun cautionary tale that might well serve as a call to young humans to become environmental activists too. Helen Shoesmith’s cover illustrations definitely depicts her as a bird with attitude, while her scenes of Rosa’s actions and their results are amusingly portrayed with a wealth of diverting detail on every spread.