*Starred Review* Based on the true story of a koala that survived multiple bushfires and wandered into a residential area, this picture book, narrated in dramatic free verse, tells a gripping story of animal survival. The words are immediate and filled with sensory detail: “The air smells of eucalyptus leaves and smoke.” When flames lick through the forest, a mother koala shields her baby from the fire, and after the charred branches cool, she leaves—with her baby on her back—in search of a meal. Her hunt for “just one tree that is right” is long and dangerous, particularly after she finds herself among humans and houses. But concerned people block traffic on a busy highway and guide the mother and baby to a safe wild eucalyptus grove. As in A Mother’s Journey (2005) and Little Lost Bat (2006), Markle’s smooth, elegant poetry and Marks’ expressive, realistic mixed-media images give a strong sense of the animals’ terror and the mother’s intense bond with her child and show how humans can protect the increasing numbers of wildlife that are pushed by shrinking habitats into our neighborhoods. Koala facts and suggestions for further research close this powerful title. Grades K-3. --Gillian Engberg
About the Author
Sandra Markle has written over seventy nonfiction books for young readers, including her Growing Up Wild and Outside and Inside series. Her books have won awards from the Boston Globe/Horn Book, NSTA/CBC, ABA, and ALA. She lives in Florida.