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

Saturday 8 December 2012

Guest Post: Karen Hodges and her Koala's Tale

KBR warmly welcomes author/illustrator Karen Hodges with this guest post about her beautiful new book - and the concern plight of our most beloved national animal.

Koliptus, A Koala’s Tale is a story about a koala’s journey from his mother’s back to establishing his own family in the wild. Because of habitat destruction and disease, the koala’s existence on the East Coast of Australia is hanging by a thread.

It is disturbing that there is a lack of awareness about this and children should be conscious of their environment. Australian children are the custodians of this great land; they need to be aware this amazing creature is soon not going to be with us.

Due to political and financial constraints, there is not much taught in our schools about our history or our wildlife. My hope, with this book, was to give the koala a meaning to our next generation. Your children hold their future in their hands!

Having had a lot to do with koalas over the years, I know they are not cute and cuddly creatures that make great pets. They are wild animals that the Australian make-up needs in order to be Australia. It’s hard to imagine not going for a bush walk and seeing a wild koala. Unfortunately this will be the case for some of the next generation.

After the bush-fires in the Hunter Valley many years ago, I did a 'towel drive'. I collected over 1500 towels from Tweed residents to take to the koala hospital, so burnt koalas could have clean bedding. I was overwhelmed with the generosity of the Tweed community. As a nurse, I knew how important clean bedding would be in treating burns wounds. The National Parks service delivered the load and the koala hospital was very grateful for the donations. It was a wonderful feeling to have done something.

Meeting some of the carers who had devoted their time to caring for the badly injured koalas that had sustained horrific burns due of the crown fire, made me very humble. They were great Australians and humanitarians.

Koliptus and his wild, Australian friends don’t have an easy life; no wild animal does.

Koliptus, A Koala’s Tale gives the reader an insight into what a wild animal has to endure to survive. Koliptus, survives better than most would, making him a 'super koala'.

Having two young children living close to me, Olivia and Zak, it was interesting to see their reactions to parts of the story as I wrote it. Each chapter became part of an afternoon ritual. We would get together and read the new chapters - they would contribute their opinions, which lead me to change some of the outcomes. A child’s perspective is different to an adult’s. I loved what happened. A magical story took on a life of its own. Koliptus was born.

I painted the illustrations as I wrote the book, letting each chapter inspire the next painting. Needless to say, I have ended up with a lot of paintings of koalas, kookaburras and other native animals.

The story is set on Mt Warning. Here the koalas, the kookaburras and some of our other great Australian native characters come together to forge their existence. The children who read this book might obtain a better understanding of the perils that our wild, native animals face. Australian children should hold their heritage close to their hearts. It is something to be proud of.

I dedicated the book to my friend, Olivia. She was ten years old when I started the book, one rainy afternoon. Her contributions were enormous. Her love of animals and all things Australian were the reason Koliptus was born. Her younger brother Zac, added his thoughts, too. The imagination of children is what keeps us all young.

Koliptus, A Koala’s Tale is published by Smudge Publishing, hard cover $39.95 and is ideal for kids aged 10 to 14. Learn more at www.smudgepub.com.au.