Baby Bilby, Where Do You Sleep?
With their very long ears, bilbies look like a cross between a rabbit and a mouse, and are sadly endangered. To bring awareness to this species, Australians have marketed bilbies as a native alternative to the Easter Bunny by selling chocolate Easter Bilbies, which is even sadder. Keep reading…
Baby Bilby, Where Do You Sleep?, written and illustrated by Narelle Oliver, is a book full of secrets. Readers can spend hours uncovering desert animals who are camouflaged and hidden safely in their secret places. Told in rhyme, Oliver introduces readers to some of Australian’s most fascinating and lesser-known animals.
The peepholes scattered through out the book are my favourite, giving you a tantalizing glimpse of what is to come. The linocut prints give the illustrations a rustic feel, like images craved into wood, and so are a perfect medium for a nature-themed book. Keeping the background uncluttered, Oliver concentrated the textures and detail on the animals, so much so that you can imagine his lizard rubbing against your skin like sandpaper, for example. Clearly inspired by Australia’s beauty, Oliver’s use of deep red orange reminds me of the red rocks at Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock). To balance out all the earth-tone colours, there is a sliver of shocking blue lacing through the pages, which makes for a splendid contrast to the deep red orange of the dirt.
Baby Bilby, Where Do You Sleep?, a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author and Illustrator Narelle Oliver
While exploring the national parks on the east coast of Australia with her husband (an environmental scientist), Narelle Oliver was inspired by all that she saw: “I became convinced that there was a need for picture book stories about the many fascinating and less well-known Australian animals in their own unique habitats. I was especially interested in showing how these animals adapt to their surroundings, and using this idea as the basis of various story plots.”
Raised in Toowoomba Queensland Australia, Oliver was a late bloomer to the field of children’s book writing. With a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Oliver spent several years teaching at Queensland School of the Deaf, using picture books in the classroom. After she began creating books in the classroom with her students, Oliver enjoyed it so much she decided give it a try and began writing and illustrating her own books.
I am always tickled pink when an author or an illustrator, takes time out of their busy schedule to reply to a fan mail.
“First, “Baby Bilby, Where do you sleep?” is no longer published by Lothian Books. My current publisher (Omnibus/Scholastic) has bought the publishing rights for it and are re-issuing it – due for release July 1st. 2011. So that has been very exciting – to have a new life beginning again for this book.
“Baby Bilby, where do you Sleep?” was created after I spent some months in central Australia travelling with my husband and young children. (They were then aged 7 and 4 years old – now they are 23 and 20! – where have those years gone?) We explored many different kinds of deserts – including the amazing gibber (stony) plains and spinifex plains. One night we camped on some red sand dunes, and I remember thinking how very little animal life we had seen there during the day. The night was cold, and we all slept quite soundly. In the morning, when we emerged from our tents, we were amazed to see an incredible number and variety of animal tracks all around our tents and covering the sand dunes. There were marsupial tracks, bird tracks, reptile tracks of every kind. It looked like some had chased others and there had been scuffles. Those bare day-time sand dunes had been covered with life during the night. And now the creatures had all disappeared again – underground or carefully camouflaged on the surface in different ways.
I also became extremely interested in the kinds of tracks animals left – their secret signs. And of course the indigenous Australian people have been using these tracks for thousands of years to hunt for their food.
And so the idea for “Baby Bilby, Where do you Sleep?” was born.
The illustrations were made using linocut prints hand-coloured with coloured pencils. I printed them using brown ink on various red, brown, orange papers to try to capture the wonderful colours of the Australian deserts. The bright blue sky (which is exactly how it looks in central Australia) was dropped in digitally as I was not able to achieve the brightness using coloured pencil over the coloured papers.
I’m going to attach some photos I took during our reference for some of the illustrations for the book.
I will attach photos of the gibbers and the gibber dragon which camouflages on them and tracks on the red sand dunes.”
– Narelle Oliver –
To discover more about Narelle Oliver, please visit her at www.narelleoliver.com
Publisher Lothian Publishing Company; 1st edition (2000)