BooksReview

Book – Mopoke

Author: Written and illustrated by Phillip Bunting
Publisher: Scholastic Australia, 2017. $24.99.

This book was given to me by a dear friend and it brings a smile to my face every time I read it. Author Philip Bunting has created a whimsical and humorous story with minimal words and simple illustrations. Children and parents alike will love this book.

This book was given to me by a dear friend and it brings a smile to my face every time I read it. Author Philip Bunting has created a whimsical and humorous story with minimal words and simple illustrations. Children and parents alike will love this book.

 

The story centres around the main character, Mopoke. The mopoke is a small, brown owl also known as a Southern Boobook Owl and it is Australia’s smallest owl. It can be found across Australia and is known for its characteristic “boo-book” call. While this unique call could be great inspiration for a plot, Bunting has chosen instead to play with the owl’s name.

 

Reminiscent of Where is the Green Sheep? (by another iconic Australian author, Mem Fox), Bunting plays with prepositions, adjectives and opposites. When reading with your child, there are many opportunities for them to engage in early literacy behaviours, such as predicting what comes next, making up their own “-pokes” and discussing cultural references (for example, the ’fropoke and the fee-fi-fo-poke).

 

Scholastic has even released teacher notes that you adapt and use with your child (these can be downloaded from its website). What fun to sit with your child and write a story together about how a wombat ended up in a tree!

 

The plot of Mopoke is subtle. Mopoke just wants to sit in his tree and enjoy the quiet, but instead he is pushed around and dressed up. You have to look carefully at Mopoke’s expressions as Bunting uses Mopoke’s eyes to communicate the bird’s waning patience. Poor Mopoke grows in annoyance until finally he snaps. The combination of illustrations and words builds to a crescendo then descends into stillness. The book ends with the peace and quiet that Mopoke is seeking.

 

Shortlisted for Picture Book of the Year 2018 by the Children’s Book Council of Australia, this book is fun and a high-quality and timeless addition to any bookshelf.

books@ssh.com.au

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