Klassic Koalas: A Summer Party in Koalaland
by Lee Barwood
It was a peaceful place, Koalaland, tucked away between the Outback and the Never-Never, safe and quiet, as befits a region in which the sleepy koala drowses and wakes occasionally to feast on gum leaves and remember the grand old days.
One wonderful summer day, however, everyone was excited. A baby koala—a joey—had come out of his mother’s pouch for the first time, and everyone was in the mood for a celebration to mark the occasion.
In these vintage photos, shot in the Long-Ago, when eucalyptus trees were tall and plentiful and koalas drowsed in their heights, you can join in the fun as the koalas and their friends, other animal residents of the Australian bush, come to the party.
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“Australian Fauna Comes to Life in this Sweet Walkabout Picnic. Since the Dreamtime long ago there have been tales of the sleepy koala in the eucalyptus tree. A new children’s book has been released that takes an innovative spin on an age-old theme and opens up the world of koala and his stories. Through vintage photographs of koalas and other indigenous Australian animals Barwood weaves a tale that touches on many Dreamtime stories about koalas, inviting children to learn more about koalas, the Dreamtime, Australia and all of its amazing animals. Every sense is awakened to the Australian bush as little koala joey Dorak comes out of the pouch for the first time. Other marsupial babies are also enjoying their first outings and so a party is called for! Kaleny, which means uncle in one of the indigenous languages of Australia, is an older koala who thinks that the party is the perfect occasion for story telling. All of the joeys and their parents enjoy tales from the Dreamtime long before peace reigned in Koalaland. Through words and pictures children will learn about such Dreamtime stories as The Koala and the Bunyip, Didane the Koala and Koobor and the Great Thirst. The photographs illustrate koala characteristics that helped create the Dreamtime stories. Children can see the mighty forearms that could possibly throw a huge boomerang or row a great boat. They can see the strength that allows the koala to live his life in the trees seldom coming down to face the dangers on the ground.
“Through Barwood’s love and knowledge of Australian fauna children will have fun learning facts like the male emu raises his striped chicks and that koalas can travel without ever coming down from the safety of their trees. Children learn of the all-important relationship between the koala and their trees. This book surpasses the average children’s book in that it turns learning into fun and shows children the significance of how all life is connected. Barwood is no stranger to environmental writing. For the same publisher she has written Ancient Aboriginal Tales in New Retellings, a book that brings to life several Dreamtime stories for a new audience. She has also written the Gryphon Award winning novel A Dream of Drowned Hollow that warns of the destruction of unthinking development. She also publishes a newsletter that shows people ways that they can help the environment. Ms. Barwood’s love of and commitment to the environment helps to make A Summer Party in Koalaland a children’s book that stands out from the rest in tenderness and understanding.
“Publisher Joanne Ehrich is a graphic designer and that adds appreciably to the quality of this book though her use of vintage prints that echo the classic photographs that are the backbone of this story. The prints help to tell the story as they bring to life the nature and picnic theme of the book. There is a love here evident for all Australian fauna that would make pioneer Charles Barrett proud. It is easy to see why koalas have fascinated people around the world and why so many people have a koala epiphany the first time they see one. That adorable face captures the observer’s heart for life. This book will help a whole new generation have their very own koala epiphany.”
— Koala expert Leslie Hung, Vancouver, Canada
Sylvie Van den Bossche, Ghent, Belgium: “This book isn’t just a book for kids. Many adults who are reading this to their children will love this tale, too. Not only is it a wonderful story, it also teaches children about the many different Australian animals, some of which some people probably never heard off. The book is easy to read and understand. The pictures accompanying the story with useful glossary at the end make it complete.”
Justin, New Jersey, USA: “Dorak is beautiful. I love the story of the Koalas and their animal friends at the storytelling party.”