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Quokka Finds a Friend

By Katie Stewart

Reviewed by Mia Macrossan

Katie Stewart is a West Australian author who has written several picture books all featuring iconic Australian animals. They include When I Can Fly, Wombat Can’t Sing (both reviewed in StoryLinks), Where Do The Stars Go? and What Colour Is The Sea? Her aim is to ‘teach children the value of understanding each other’s differences’.
This is a simple story about friendship – learning how to adapt to the needs of the person you want to befriend. Quokka meets a young fur seal at the beach one afternoon.  Seal looks rather sad and Quokka decides to try to make him smile. Pulling funny faces doesn’t work no matter how inventive Quokka is. During one attempt he falls into the water and Seal rescues him and offers to teach him how to swim. Quokka doesn’t want to learn and realises Seal doesn’t really want to learn to smile but they can still be friends even though they like different things. The story ends on a satisfying note when they find something they enjoy doing together.
Quokka is a very attractive joyful creature whose appealing smile dominates the cover. His antics are so delightful that I did wonder why Seal didn’t want to smile. He just looked glum and gloomy, but he does say ‘I don’t smile much,…that’s just how I am’. As Katie says in the beginning ‘Everyone is a little weird. Finding a friend who lets you be weird your way is special.’
Children aged 3 – 5 will enjoy the strong bright colours, the beach setting and the animated animals which are often shown in closeups and learn something about how to be a friend along the way. The font occasionally jumps out with an important or significant word or phrase which helps whoever is doing the read aloud to give the story the right emphasis.
Another one to add to your Australian animal  collection.
Fremantle Press 2024
Katie Stewart
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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