Many thanks to Paul Macdonald and his staff at The Children’s Bookshop, Beecroft, for the invitation to hear Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks, this afternoon, discussing their magnificent new picture book, “The dream of the thylacine”. This moving work features “Ben”, the very last Tasmanian tiger, who died a lonely death in Hobart’s Beaumaris Zoo in the 1930s. Margaret and Ron were generous with their anecdotes, words of wisdom, time and autograph-signing hands, to the appreciation of 70 teachers and teacher-librarians who travelled to hear them. The champagne flowed freely and there were plenty of bargains (and CBCA shortlisted books) for sale in the store.
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, 2011.
The students at my school have really appreciated “The dream of the thylacine”, which is a strong literary and artistic example of a persuasive text – a very timely book for the lead-up to last week’s NAPLAN test, and for our Stage 3 students studying endangered species. It was also pleasing that many of these students actually remembered seeing the old b/w footage of “Ben”in 2009, when I introduced “How WEIRD is that?” (one of that year’s Crichton Award CBCA nominees) – one of the first film clips we displayed on the old library’s then-new IWB!
Margaret spoke of being entranced by that old b/w footage during a trip to Tasmania, and the text for “The dream of the thylacine” grew from that. Ron talked of his initial reluctance to take on the project as illustrator (and designer), despite their previous successful collaboration on the award-winning “Fox” over ten years earlier. Ron had been deep into “Drawn from the heart”, his recently-published memoir, but inevitably he embraced the uniquely-Tasmanian elements of “The dream of the thylacine”.