As we approach the beginning of the breeding season of the Australian Magpie, it feels fitting that my next review is all about one of my favourite Aussie song birds.
From the moment we meet wilful magpie fledging, Marlo, we witness her in a number of situations none of them however, involving her taking to the wing. And why? Because Marlo ‘wanted to be different’.
As Marlo watches her bird friends soar and swoop, she steadfastly refuses to become airborne. Time and time again she defends her position; she doesn’t need or want to fly, reinforcing her belief that flying does not a magpie make.
Her stubborn determination to stand out from the flock is admirable if not slightly bemusing for her forest friends. Unable to convince her that as a bird, she should embrace flying, they resort to jesting and jeering each time she attempts to emphasise her difference.
It isn’t until Marlo meets little Kev Koala, distressed and unable to locate his mother, that we suspect Marlo’s resolve to show there is more to her than just flying, is perhaps a ruse to hide the fact that she can’t fly or is too scared to fly. Suppositions Marlo has erstwhile denied but could be true…
Whatever the case, she finally casts all aspersions and doubts aside to help her friend in need. The bush creatures rejoice in Marlo’s newfound abilities and acceptance of herself, as does Marlo.
Robert Vescio’s uncomplicated narrative style allows room for plenty of alliteration and action-orientated onomatopoeia. Kerthumping kangaroos, slithering snakes and cackling kookaburras give Marlo Can Fly an easy read aloud musicality sure to entertain under-fives.
Sandra Temple’s modest yet striking combinations of pastels and coloured-pencil illustrations give each bushland creature a brilliant life-like appearance. They are simply beautiful to behold and lead us effortlessly to the heart-warming conclusion of a delightful Australian themed picture story.
Marlo’s triumph is finding delight in her sense of self. Yours could be not running a mile the next time one of these glorious birds loops and soars over the tree tops.
Recommended for 3 – 5 year olds and those who cherish the magnificent carolling of a magpie at dawn.