Don’t Let A Spoonbill in the Kitchen


Author/IllustratorNarelle Oliver

Publisher: Omnibus (Scholastic Australia)

Comments: Narelle mentioned her plans for this book when I met her back in 2012, and the resulting picture book is wonderful. Narrative picture books that incorporate non-fiction elements have long been a love of mine both to read and to write, and they are a rich resource for classroom use. This one focuses on the adaptations of different species of Australian birds, and the hilarious hypothetical scenarios which *could* unfold if you let each bird loose in the house.

While my own bird-loving children could identify the species in the text, many children will be unfamiliar with birds such as the Comb-crested Jacana and Black-winged Stilt. This book provides an opportunity to introduce lesser known Australian birds and links nicely with the new Australian Science Curriculum.

Don’t Let A Spoonbill in the Kitchen features Narelle Oliver’s signature linocuts, but in this book they are embedded in collages which also include photographic elements and cut papers. The endpapers are fun and kids will love finding items such as shoes, bows, and sunglasses within the book.

Teacher Tip: Create a class joint construction featuring other Australian birds (eg emu, magpie, tawny frogmouth, cassowary). What special features or adaptations do these birds have? (eg: an emu can run fast, a magpie can sing, a tawny frogmouth is well camouflaged, a cassowary can kick.) Where would you NOT let these birds? (eg: Don’t let a cassowary in the soccer team.) Illustrate using mixed media in the style of Narelle Oliver.

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