All of the animals live in the shade of one huge tree in the middle of the desert. Echidna, a pale creature with a long snout but no spikes, is left behind to look after everyone else’s children when food is gathered. When the animals return, he only gets the scraps. Annoyed by this, Echidna digs up the massive tree and runs away with it. As the others try to stop him, a boomerang breaks his toes, and he becomes covered with spears. The tree is dropped, and its branches become more trees in the landscape. This narrative is enlivened by the children’s paintings, and there is a photo of one child artist on the back cover.
This book is based on a story told by Mona Green, of the Djaru people, to Aboriginal children living in Halls Creek, Western Australia. “When my husband was a stockman, we used to go out to Nongra Lake to see if the cattle had enough water. I had heard the story about the giant lake and I think that, from the air, it would look like a tree with roots stretching out.”
Few words and dramatic pictures are the format for all of the books compiled by Pamela Lofts for this Scholastic series, and these have been many school children’s first introduction to Aboriginal culture in published story form.