Australian animals and bush settings are the draw cards in this third book of the Mudpoo adventure stories. Tightly knitted to the storyline, and reflected in all the scenes of camaraderie between the characters, is the easy-going lifestyle of the bush and the beauty of the natural world. But the book’s value is due in large part to the exceptional and detailed ink pen artwork depicting the plethora of Australian native birds and animals.
There is a strong sense of country atmosphere throughout the book. I felt that I was part of the surroundings, for I could easily visualise the animals scuttling through the brush and the sight of eagles and owls perched on the limbs of trees, while flames from the camp fire cooked food for Captain Pete and his company. It was the perfect description of the stink of Fungus McPhee’s smelly socks and his rabbit dung tobacco that convinced me that I had been transported into the author’s realm.
Each character owns a singular characteristic that imprints them on the mind of the reader. Mudpoo, after making a wish on the Magic Tree Stump, can communicate with the animals of the bush. Gus is a talking VW Kombi Van, and Captain Pete an inventor of creative and necessary things. By the end of the book, you feel you know well the old gold and copper mining town of Bethanga in North-Eastern Victoria close to Lake Hume. But there is a map at the end, just in case.
There are strong environmental references throughout the book, and although there is a mention of exterminating the rabbits by violent means, that is overridden by the fact that crotchety old men do at times have wild thoughts.
This book is well-presented and produced on quality paper with earthy-coloured backgrounds that serve to further highlight the intricate and well-crafted illustrations that bring originality to the text.
Title: Mudpoo and the Fungus Mystery
Author: Peter Klein
Illustrator: Leon de Montignie
Publisher: JoJo Publishing, $18.99 RRP
Publication Date: October 2013
For ages: 8–11
Type: Middle Fiction