23 September 2020

Review: The Bushfire Book - How to Be Aware and Prepare by Polly Marsden, illustrated by Chris Nixon

The Bushfire Book: How to Be Aware and Prepare by Polly Marsden and illustrated by Chris Nixon book cover
* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

Bushfires are a real threat in Australia and I was excited to see the recent release of a children's book to educate young kids about the dangers. The Bushfire Book: How to Be Aware and Prepare by Polly Marsden and illustrated by Chris Nixon is a reassuring book for children.

With a vibrant colour palette and bright artwork, the colour scheme and style evoked the landscape artworks of fellow Australian artist Fred Williams. I'm not sure if there's a legitimate influence there or whether it's an artistic coincidence, but I related well to the uniquely Australian illustrations and the chosen colour palette.

I was less sure about the inclusion of entire pages of typography for such young readers.

The inclusion of the fire danger ratings indicator was a terrific choice, however I was hoping for some content around preparing your house for bushfire season. Things like clearing gutters, cutting grass, cleaning up twigs and leaf litter etc. are tasks children can often help with however there was no mention here of how to prepare your house ahead of bushfire season.

Also absent was the concept of leaving early; wearing long sleeves, pants and closed shoes when the fire danger is high and putting a wet cloth over your nose and mouth to help you breathe if the air is smoky.

Ultimately, The Bushfire Book seemed to focus on awareness and reassurance, while leaving the preparedness to another time. I'm not sure if it was decided the content would be too distressing for kids, but the page highlighting that we don't need to be scared, with one character asking: "what if my house burns down?" seemed far more confronting to this reader.

Nevertheless, The Bushfire Book contains some very important resources at the end and a bonus pull-out poster which was a nice touch.

Parents and teachers looking to educate children on all facets of bushfire awareness will need to look elsewhere, but this is a great place to introduce the topic of how bushfires begin and start the conversation.

I suspect this Australian title will be popular in schools, libraries and homes ahead of the 2021 bushfire season and you can read a FREE extract here.

Stay safe and Carpe Librum!
My Rating:

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