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

Monday 10 April 2023

Review: The Forgotten Song - Saving The Regent Honeyeater

The Forgotten Song is exquisitely beautiful, with both words and illustrations seeming to ooze hope, ingenuity and wonder.

The story describes the yearning of a Regent honeyeater to find his ancient song and explains the unusual and successful human intervention, which eventually ignites his music within.

Coral Vass’s sparkling words accompanied by Jess Racklyeft’s inspired and uplifting illustrations, which include the use of one-hundred year old photos, bring this picture book to life in the most joyful of ways.

Regent knew it was time to find a partner and make a nest.

He was now old enough to sing the ancient song himself, but he couldn’t remember the tune.

And no one was left to remind him.

The narrative tells us the history of Regent and shows how birdsong is handed down from one generation of honeyeaters to the next. With a seamless balance of fun and information, the words are a delight to read and hear out loud. We know that Regent is ready to sing for a mate, and we watch as he mimics other birds in the hope of finding his own music.

The mixed media illustrations have been created with a cheerful and energising colour palette; some with the subtle inclusion of historic habitat photos. The presentation of birdsong as artwork on the page is incredible and uses feather-shaped, organic speech bubbles that contain the perfect markings and colours for different birds to sing and dance across the page. These gorgeous representations will make you hear bird calls inside your head!

Sadly, the Regent honeyeater (previously known as the warty-faced honeyeater among other unflattering names!) is on the endangered list and we can all do our part to help reclaim habitat and care for their environment.  

The glossary of scientific terms, artist notes, further facts about the Regent Honeyeater and visual timeline in the back of the book, are welcome bonus resources. And of course, there are Teacher Notes aligned to the Australian Curriculum which are free for download.

With deeper layers around finding your own voice, standing in your power and trusting the process (whatever that is), this wonderful book covers a lot of important ground.

Highly recommended.

The Forgotten Song – Saving The Regent Honeyeater
Author: Coral Vass
Illustrator: Jess Racklyeft
Publisher: CSIRO $24.99
Publication Date: April 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781486316403
For ages: 5 - 9
Type: Picture Book