Book Review: Under the Southern Cross, by Frané Lessac

Under the Southern Cross works on many layers and will appeal to a wide range of ages, from toddlers to teens as it travels around Australia looking at life under the cover of darkness.

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Under the Southern Cross is the third in a series of interesting and educational books that bestselling and award-winning Author/Illustrator Frané Lessac has had published. The first two are A is for Australia and A is for Australian Animals.

What are the mysterious lights seen in the outback? Where can you see turtles hatching from their eggs? Why is the night sky important to our Indigenous Australians? What animals come out at night? These questions and more are answered in this colourful book.

Under the Southern Cross travels around Australia looking at life in Australia under the cover of darkness. The animals wake up, people go about their night time activities, and things are seen that are hidden during the day. From Perth to the desert, to watching the football in Melbourne, this book doesn’t just go to the well-known destinations. It introduces the reader to places we haven’t dreamed of. Children are treated to a look at the unusual and fascinating. It makes me proud to be Australian.

This book has beautiful illustrations and has so many different layers, it would appeal to varying age groups.

Firstly, as a picture book, the illustrations are eye catching and informative. Bright colours and full of life, there is much to discover. Hiding behind a tree, or in a car, young children can search for small clues throughout the book.

Secondly, the text is made up of two components: One with larger print telling the story of life as it happens when the sun goes down, and several smaller font paragraphs on each page, with interesting or scientific information explaining the main text.

Hidden on each page is also the author’s dog, Banjo. This would appeal to the younger readers and there is of course, the Southern Cross to find on each page amongst the stars. It does not always look the same, but then again, the Southern Cross does change with the seasons and the rotation of the earth.

At the end of the book is a double page spread with information on the Southern Cross. This is informative and well set out. A map of Australia on the last page completes the book.

I would read this book to toddlers who would love both the pictures and searching for the dog and Southern Cross. Very young children would only need to hear the larger text. As they get older, the informative smaller font is fascinating. In a classroom it could be used as a text with the Science Unit on Change. I could also see this book as an excellent gift for family overseas.

A worthy book to give a loved one.

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

Rating out of 10:  8

Distributed by: Walker Books
Released: October 2018
RRP: $24.99

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