Koala Ark tells the story of a community of animals who experience their homes being threatened by a bushfire.
The fire appears suddenly and Koala is worried for all his animal friends, so he sets out in a small boat to find and help them.
Echidna is alone and grateful for rescue. Mr Wombat and his son are injured, and Joey is separated from his mum. Donkey and Chicken travel a long way and are thankful for a place on the boat.
As Koala travels around the billabong, many animals, each with different experiences, join him on the boat (the ark). Some have lost everything, while others are fortunate to still have their homes, but choose to join their animal friends in a safer place for now.
When the animals arrive at the shore, friends are waiting for them (including Joey’s mum). And soon the rain arrives too, cooling the land.
Author and illustrator Stephen Michael King explains that he was inspired to create Koala Ark by his own experience and the observation of people’s ‘bravery and humanity’ during the 2019 and 2020 bushfires in Australia. He made a koala the hero as a way to acknowledge the loss of so many koalas during the fires.
Stephen Michael King has such a gorgeous illustration style, and his characters are appealing and relatable. This story is one that can be used to introduce or discuss the subject of bushfires with young children, showing some of the reality of bushfires, with a hopeful message of renewal.
The endpapers in Koala Ark are a beautiful map of the land featured in the story. The homes of each of the creatures who live there are labelled, and readers will be able to track the animals’ journey, and perhaps be inspired to try drawing a map of their own.
Koala Ark is highly recommended.
Title: Koala Ark
Author/Illustrator: Stephen Michael King
Publisher: Scholastic, $24.99
Publication Date: June 2022
For ages: 3 – 6
Type: Picture Book
August 27, 2022 at 12:42AM Shaye Wardrop