The Little Platypus and the Fire Spirit
Aboriginal Studies Press, 2005
5-8yrs, Lower Primary
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- Stories and motifs
This is a morality story about envy. Unlike many stories when wishes are granted but do not end happily, this story ends well. The story begins, ‘a long time ago in the Dreamtime, there was an unusual animal called a platypus. He had a long skinny tail, long ears, fur and he was very fast.’ He lived a happy life: ‘he chased bugs and butterflies, nipped the emus’ long skinny legs, and ran up and down the tails of kangaroos.’ But envy took hold.
One day the platypus sees a yellow duck swimming in the water and envies his ability to swim. He begins to cry. A Fire Spirit appears and sympathetically points to the platypus’ special qualities: a beautiful fur coat, long ears and tail, and an ability to run fast. But the platypus is inconsolable.
Taking pity, the Fire Spirit changes the platypus into a duck. Platypus is exceedingly happy, but when cold weather comes, Playtpus misses his warm fur coat. Again he cries and the ever-patient, sympathetic Fire Spirit promises a few changes but no guaranteed outcome. Now the platypus has a fur coat, a long tail, a duckbill and four webbed feet. But he sinks to the bottom when he tries to swim! The very patient Fire Spirit changes the platypus once again giving him a very flat tail. Success! The story ends on a factual note about the platypus being only one of two monotremes in the world: the platypus and echidna, both habitants of Australia. The illustrations are unusual in their background settings, which feature a slightly fuzzy appearance, perhaps reflecting this wish come true story.
The creator, Mundara Koorang, is an Australian Aboriginal artist, designer, teacher, elder, actor, and author. He was born in the Eora NSW area and is a descendant of the Gamilaroi people. His artwork is held in many galleries.
- Story of the creation of Australian land, animals and people illustrated with artworks by Mundara Koorang’s artworks and accompanied didgeridoo music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXkusex93CI
- Australian Museum. Platypus https://australianmuseum.net.au/learn/animals/mammals/platypus/
- Melbourne Zoo. Platypus Facts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmShThjkmdI
- Facts.Net. Platypus facts https://facts.net/nature/animals/platypus-facts