The Emu Who Ran Through the Sky
Magabala Books, 2021
5-8yrs, Lower Primary, Primary, Upper Primary
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- Adventure stories
- Art motifs
Tales from the Bush Mob series is about a group of birds and animals that all live together in outback Australia. They have adventures and collectively solve problems. This second picture book in the series has a longer than usual text and opens with an introduction to all the animal characters, followed by three chapters and a concluding epilogue. The story structure carries the reader along in presenting the ‘problem’, trialling different solutions, then succeeding by working together.
Lofty Emu desperately wants to win the emu race. The prize is a sumptuous breakfast of fruit and insects served by all the other emus. Chapter 1, ‘The big race’, sees all the emus raring to go. Unfortunately, Lofty is inexperienced, awkward and slow. Disaster! Lofty trips over his big feet, and all the emus stumble over him. The emus mercilessly tease Lofty who nevertheless continues to practice running every day. Could there be another way to win the race? Lofty asks for help from his flying friends, the Eagle, Sugar Glider, and Bat but none have the right solution. Along comes Platypus who designs the Feathery Paraglider with wings made of feathers. The wings are attached to Lofty’s legs so then he is able to soar through the air.
Children will be cheering when Chapter 3 announces, ‘Lofty wins the day’. All the other emus are astonished to see Lofty soaring in his Feathery Paraglider to win the race. The emus apologise for teasing Lofty. Best yet: all Lofty’s emu friends serve him a very big breakfast, which he shares with one and all.
Illustrations fill the large format pages with the deep browns and greens of the Australian landscape along with details of the many animals and lush flora, mountains, and landscapes which feature Aboriginal circular patterns. The endpapers offer an aerial view from the Feathery Paraglider. Viewers will spot underground caves, the platypus River Bank, Willy Wagtail’s Tree, the Ancient Forest and more. The story ends with a satisfying sense of achievement and pride felt when searching for solutions, solving problems and working together on challenges. The Epilogue sums up this achievement and drives home the message that it is ‘better to help each other than boast and tease and run alone’.
Helen Milroy is a descendant of the Palyku people of the Pilbara region of Western Australia. She is the Western Australian State Recipient Australian of the Year 2021 and joint winner of the 2020 Australian Mental Health Prize.
Series: Tales from the Bush Mob no 2
- Kidcyber. Shirley Sydenham and Ron Thomas. ‘Emu’, 2020 https://www.kidcyber.com.au/emu
- Culture Trip by Tom Smith. ‘Emu: 11 Facts about Australia’s National Bird’ https://theculturetrip.com/pacific/australia/articles/emu-11-facts-about-australias-national-bird/
- Australia Post. ‘Professor Helen Milroy: Strengthening support services for children’s mental health.’ 10 March 2021 (Profile of Helen Milroy) https://auspost.com.au/community-stories/inspiring-australians/helen-milroy
- Scribblers Festival. Exploring Book Week with Helen Milroy, Book Week Q&A, 2020 (Helen Milroy discusses children’s books) https://www.scribblersfestival.com.au/blog/exploring-book-week-with-helen-milroy
- Dr Helen Milroy reads from her book, ‘Wombat, Mudlark and Other Stories’, 19 May 2020 YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxlmj0dG6ZY
- South Sydney Herald 24 Apr 2021 ‘Lofty lifts off – an interview with Helen Milroy’ by Marjorie Lewis-Jones’ https://southsydneyherald.com.au/lofty-lifts-off-and-conveys-life-lessons-for-children/