From the Editor’s Desk in November 2021

Article | Issue: Nov 2021

There are such great books being published towards the end of this year. Inspiration comes from every section of the bookshop or library. Two recent books have inspired me.

Favel Parrett, burst onto the book scene with her novel, Past the Shallows which she followed up with another two further bestsellers. She has now turned her attention to a very different story to which I am drawn.

Her new book for children, Wandi, is based on the true story of a tiny purebred dingo pup who apparently, literally fell from the sky. ‘Marks on his back suggested he was picked up by a wedge-tailed eagle or an owl, taken from his home in the mountains and dropped into a suburban backyard in Wandiligong, near Bright in North-East Victoria.’ Luckily he survived and, when he was discovered, was taken to the vet, then sent to the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary and Research Centre in Victoria’s Toolern Vale. Wandi is now pretty famous with 55 000 followers on his Instagram.

Favel says, ‘A few years ago, I visited the Sanctuary on one of their “Cuddle a Cub” tours that happen every winter. I imagined I would just be cuddling some cute dingo cubs and taking photos, but what I discovered about dingoes blew me away. The tours start with an educational talk, and this is where I met my first adult dingo. I fell in love instantly. I couldn’t even speak.The fact that dingoes can hear human heartbeats from 25 metres away stopped me in my tracks. I knew I was in the presence of greatness.’

Favel met Wandi when he was about four months old. She asked if she could come and start volunteering at the sanctuary and, a few months later, was given the go-ahead to start her training.

‘Every day at the sanctuary I have watched Wandi grow from an unsure four-month-old, to a majestic Alpine adult.’

Favel hopes this book about Wandi will help kids understand that we need to protect our environment. She says, ‘It is their future that is on the line because of all the damage we have done to this country in the last 200 years. I want the young readers of Australia to fall in love with dingoes, as I have, and be proud of our amazing apex predator.Wandi’s story needs to be told because he proves that there are pure Alpine dingoes in Victoria and they desperately need our protection. His arrival at the Sanctuary gave us all the greatest hope for the future. I am hoping that this book reaches a whole new audience, who will fall in love with our Australian dingo, and will want to protect and save this incredible animal.’

Hear, hear I say! I also hope it inspires a new generation to make a positive difference from the ground up. I’m thinking of a bilby who needs an Instagram account!

My saviour from COVID on so many lonesome days this year has been my garden. It’s not a very big garden and although I do have ground in which to dig, I also have a plethora of pots of all shapes and sizes. Time spent home alone has reignited my passion for gardening and the joy it brings me. Rather than celebrating the onset of a weekend at the pub with a gin and tonic, I’ve reconnected with Gardening Australia on ABC TV on Friday nights. I watch this program with fascination as Costa Georgiadis paces around gardens, clasping his hands together as he enthusiastically introduces us to plant-loving people and gives us useful tips and ideas to put our many idle green thumbs to work. Costa is such an interesting host with his wild bushy growth on that chin of his and his twinkling eyes that emanate joy. He has an enthusiasm that is highly contagious. Costa is a national treasure. If you watch the program or know anything about him then you’ll know his new book, Costa’s World, will exude the same personality and fun.

Costa attributes his love of outdoor life and gardening to his grandparents who provided him with unconditional love and an understanding of sustainability. I wonder if he also got his special ability to clearly communicate from them as well.

This is a gardening book which makes you think. It picks you up by your shirt collar and props you up above your garden to look down on it and your greater surrounds. It then asks you to think about your garden. Where do you live? No, not your address, but for example, on the south side of a hill, near the sea. Now think about what you can and can’t change about your garden. You can’t make the sun shine on the south side. But there are always many things you can change.

Costa asks us to consider the climate of our neighbourhood, look closely at our soil, and how much rainwater runs off down pipes to the street instead of into the ground or storage. He asks us to simply open our eyes.

Although Costa’s World partly conveys his gardening philosophy, it’s also a practical book packed with interesting information offered with his positive, enthusiastic insights. Verge gardens, community gardens and projects, permaculture, no-dig gardens, frog bogs, compost, gates, chooks, native bees, moths, birds and bats. The list goes on. Flowering plants that feed beneficial bugs, Costa’s go-to veggies, big ideas for small spaces and get the kids hands dirty. Too many subjects to cover here.

This is a most readable gardening book. One to take to bed or sit in the sun with a cuppa and simply enjoy. It’s interesting, fun, colourful and thoughtful. It’s set to inspire you to look down from above and then get down on your hands and knees and really look at your garden.

For both a new gardener, or an experienced gardener like me, Costa brings the environment of a garden to life in so many ways, helping us understand how to enrich it with biodiversity and to revel in all its different aspects. Did I say that his enthusiasm is infectious? I think I’m in love with Costa.

These two books couldn’t be found further apart on shelves in the library or bookshop. But their inspiration is the same. A caring for our land, what grows in it and lives on it. To leave a better place for the children of today.

And that’s books for you. How great is that.

Rowena

And Baxter. Just a dog who loves a good tummy rub.

Author: Favel Parrett

Category: Children's, Children's, teenage & educational, Teachers Resources

Book Format: Hardback

Publisher: Lothian Children's Books

ISBN: 9780734420633

RRP: $19.99

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