July 02, 2013

Skink on the Brink

    by Lisa Dalrymple
    Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo
    Fitzhenry & Whiteside
    32 pp.
    Ages 4+
    June 2013

    This Saturday, Lisa Dalrymple and Suzanne Del Rizzo will be holding a launch for their picture book, Skink on the Brink, and I implore you all to go, pick up your own copy and share in the experience that is Stewie the Skink.

    Lisa Dalrymple's text follows Stewie from his early days as a blue-tailed skink whose contentment with his name, appearance, unique defense feature, and his forest habitat adjacent to a pond is evident in the clever little songs he makes up.  Judging by Suzanne Del Rizzo's rich plasticine illustrations of various animals and vegetation in the area, Stewie has many reasons to be happy. 

    But, as with all living things, Stewie will grow and mature, and he does, but into a less colourful skink of grey about which he can't find much to sing.  Hopeful for inspiration in a new habitat, Stewie sets out, finding a new pond that has its own set of attributes.  Instead of seeing what he does have, Stewie focuses on what he has lost.  That is, until a wise woodpecker shares with Stewie the nature of his endangered status and that his original habitat was best for keeping him safe.

    Skink on the Brink shares the need for self-acceptance and seeing beyond the superficial.  Stewie is so enamoured with his blue tail that he cannot see anything as wonderful once it's gone.  Luckily a woodpecker with great rhythm brings out the song in Stewie and, surprisingly, mating throughout the forest and pond! But, as the title suggests, Skink on the Brink goes beyond the individual and introduces young readers to the concept of species endangerment and the importance of habitat in ensuring the survival of species such as Stewie.  To enhance a young reader's understanding of these concepts, Lisa Dalrymple provides comprehensive notes about endangerment and habitat protection, as well as the life cycle, classification, and defense mechanism of skinks.  And for a little fun, there are the rules for a game of Skink-Tail Tag and Suzanne Del Rizzo's instructions on making Stewie from plasticine.

    Though a welcome addition to any primary/junior teacher's collection of science picture books, Skink on the Brink is for young readers who enjoy the texture-rich illustrations of plasticine art done well and learning about the natural world, with encouragement to involve themselves beyond the book.  As such, Skink on the Brink is the best of children's non-fiction in a visually-enhanced fictional context. Be sure to save this one.

    1 comment:

    1. How could one go wrong, with a Skink named "Stewie"?:)
      Congrats Lisa and YOU ROCK Suzanne!!!