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Friday, 29 March 2019

Review: Leaving the Lyrebird Forest

In Leaving the Lyrebird Forest, the descriptive lyrical prose draws the reader into the surroundings immediately. 

In a uniquely Australian setting and within vivid scenes of the wild natural environment, young Alice Dorrit’s story emerges. 

The prose is accompanied and enhanced by the stunning woodcut illustrations of the gifted Julian Laffan.

Alice never feels alone although she is an only child. She is comfortable living with her artist parents in the isolated woods she so loves and knows like the back of her hand. 

This treasured area is populated by a creative community that survives on their modest produce, the selling of their handcrafts and art, and through the exchange of goods at their local marketplace. The Dorrit’s closest neighbours are the Browns at the end of a track which Alice passes each day on her long walk to school.  For reasons unknown, they have kept to themselves for some time now.

The highlight of Alice’s life is school and learning, and the early morning visits she gets every alternate day from a male lyrebird she has named, Birdy. He copies the sounds of the forest and any other peculiar noise that takes his fancy.

Unknown to Alice, Birdy has a secret other life. When Alice hears sounds and follows the track that leads to Cyril Brown’s house, a new and lasting friendship is formed with the returned digger. Birdy’s other life is revealed and so is the extent of his talent when Alice receives a porcelain bell from her father for her 14th birthday.

Through the unfolding of this multi-themed story, the habits of lyrebirds are revealed. Crew has created with words, visual images of the simple life that people lived within the embrace of the natural world, and the strong sense of community that existed in early Australian life.

This is a delightful story about discovery, choices, friendship and the endless possibilities that life presents. Laced around the joys and sorrows of leaving the place you love are the new beginnings that go hand-in-hand with change and moving forward.
  
Title: Leaving the Lyrebird Forest
Author: Gary Crew
Illustrator: Julian Laffan
Publisher: Hachette, $16.99
Publication Date: October 2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780734418432
For ages: 10+
Type:  Middle Grade Fiction

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