'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 25 March 2010

Review: Tatiara

I love a book that combines palpable emotion with a clear love of nature, as found in Tatiara, written and illustrated by Jo Oliver, a Sydney-based author and mum of three boys.

Set in Tathra, a seaside town on the far south coat of New South Wales, the author has beautifully recreated the beach scenes from this stunning part of the world, using dry point etching and watercolour. Having visited this coast, I can attest to the striking colour Oliver has captured – that sapphire blue is rarely seen so lustrous.

Tatiara, a name which means ‘beautiful country’ and is an alternate Aboriginal name for Tahthra, is an injured seal who appears one day off the Tathra wharf.

When the young girl narrating this heart-warming story first sees Tatiara, she is entranced. Wanting to help the injured seal thrive, the little girl begins fishes to catch fish for her the seal and a warm friendship soon develops.

As Tatiara heals and frollicks daily in the water around the wharf, she often looks at the little girl as if yo say “why can’t you come in, too?”.

But as we soon learn, it’s because the girl wears a back brace and her only way to enjoy the cooling waters of an ocean swim is in her nightly bath, where she sadly laments her dream to dive into the sparkling ocean and swim with her friend.

This is a poignant and very emotional story. I found it a little text-heavy at first glance, but the storyline flows beautifully and doesn’t falter, particularly because it’s told in the first person, present tense, which always brings vibrancy and momentum to any storyline.

The text on the local history and fauna of Tathra are also an interesting addition that doesn’t detract from the story, though probably makes it a book that would attract older readers more than the very young.

Nonetheless, the inspirational ending of Tatiara will delight and inspire any reader – regardless of age.

Author website

Title: Tatiara
Author/Illustrator: Jo Oliver
Publisher: New Frontier, A$24.95RRP
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781921042225
For ages: 4-8
Type: Picture Book