Book reviews for Aussie teachers and their students.

Posts tagged ‘Cassowary’

Book Review: “Mister Cassowary” by Samantha Wheeler, University of Queensland Press (2015)

mister-cassowaryA year after his Grandad’s death, Flynn travels with his father to Mission Beach on an assignment to prepare the family banana plantation for sale.  Understandably, Flynn anticipates that the trip will be dominated by the mundane chores of cleaning and repairing.  Understandably, he is taken aback when things get a lot more interesting when he happens across a pair of cassowary chicks and meets local girl Abby.  As Flynn quickly learns, the discovery of the cassowaries raises more questions than answers with the young boy keen to unravel the mystery of his Grandad’s death, his father’s anxiety and how this is all related to these unusual prehistoric birds.

With environmental studies top of the National Curriculum agenda, this text is a perfect choice for complementing or introducing the topic of endangered species.  With a manageable length and short snappy chapters, Mister Cassowary would be ideal as a shared class text for close analysis, or add on filler when read by the teacher.  The text itself provides a valuable segue-way into discussing general issues related to endangered species, whilst acting as a tangible case study, or model, for older students to undertake their own research on this or other animals at risk.  I was also pleased to note the inclusion of supplementary facts at the end of the task, along with websites and organisations to support extension activities.

Mister Cassowary is written in clear language and should be easily accessible and engaging by students ready to move on to more challenging chapter books.  Flynn and Abby are appealingly drawn characters with a wonderful natural inquisitiveness that mirrors many of the children in this age group.  I was less taken by the adult characters, some of whom I felt were a little one dimensional with dialogue that felt somewhat stilted.

Perfect for children in the Primary Years and edging into the lower end of the Middle Years, Mister Cassowary is a Heaven-sent gift for teachers wanting to teach across a range of curriculum areas and inspire the next generation to embrace an active role as stewards of this planet.  A wonderful novel that will surely become a favourite in schools by teachers, students and animal advocates alike.

Tanya Grech Welden

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