Vanishing (Mike Lucas, illus by Jennifer Harrison, MidnightSun)
Vanishing, an evocative picture book from author Mike Lucas and illustrator Jennifer Harrison, delivers a sharp warning about the growing dangers of humanity’s impact on the natural environment and the animals who call it home. The book offers young readers an introduction to this topical subject, given Australia has the worst rate of mammal extinction worldwide. Harrison’s illustrations are exquisite (and almost lifelike), capturing the raw beauty of the natural environment. However, the collage element in some of the illustrations—juxtaposing how animals can be domesticated or turned into products, alongside how they live in their natural environments—doesn’t always appear to be seamless. At its best, Lucas’ text has a lyrical quality, and Harrison’s illustrations depict vibrant landscapes. However, readers may be let down on the pages where the text doesn’t strongly support the imagery and vice versa, which lessens the impact of revealing how animals disappear from their natural habitats. Vanishing will appeal to those looking for picture books with strong environmental themes. Animal lovers and fans of Graeme Base’s Animalia will appreciate the world built in the pages of Vanishing.
Amy Nicholls-Diver is a project editor from Melbourne