Fluke (Lesley Gibbes, illus by Michelle Dawson, Working Title Press)
This new picture book by Lesley Gibbes, author of CBCA Honour Book Scary Night, is based on the true story of a southern right whale who gave birth to her calf in Sydney Harbour in 2012. The story captured the hearts of the people of Sydney, as Fluke and his mother stayed in the harbour until it was time for them to embark on their long journey to Antarctic waters. Their stay, however, was not without incident. Early primary school readers will easily engage with this story, which develops—with some tension—into an adventure in the harbour. Gibbes’ simple text builds the suspense, while Michelle Dawson’s beautiful watercolour illustrations perfectly evoke the watery habitat of the whales, their tender interaction and the drama of the story. The clever use of the endpapers to provide facts about southern right whales adds more visual interest to the book. While it is, on the surface, a beautifully presented picture book, readers will be fascinated by this introduction to the habitat and the life cycle of these magnificent creatures.
Margaret Hamilton is a former children’s book publisher. She is now proprietor of Pinerolo, the Children’s Book Cottage in Blackheath, NSW