In Walker’s fourth picture book, featuring a cast of exotic animals, a group of young Tasmanian devils is playing a game when one of them goes missing.
While playing hide-and-seek, three Tasmanian devils discover that their sister, Splasher, has disappeared. They rush to their mother, Lucky Devil, who then calls for Kookie Kookaburra to help. Kookie in turn, rounds up a posse of diverse animals to aid in the search. Readers’ interest will be piqued by the strange and exotic native Australian creatures: among them, a quoll, an echidna, a potoroo, and a bandicoot.
As the animals search, a few get sidetracked; they are unable to resist the scrumptious food they uncover along the way. Platypus Jack sees “nice, fat worms”; Edna Echidna spots a “tasty nest of ants,” and a couple of bandicoots find “yummy corbie grubs.” Readers will be tickled by the scatterbrained creatures and delightfully grossed out by the forest fare.
Unfortunately, the book stops short of delivering a compelling plot. The finding of Splasher happens too quickly and easily; to fully engage readers, Walker needs to throw in a few more obstacles. This in turn, would create more tension and make the finding of Splasher that much more triumphant.
A helpful addition would be an appendix with descriptions of the animals, including their diets, habitats, etc. Walker might also suggest readers go online to hear the wild and distinctive voices of these creatures. Although the illustrations lack detail, the animals appear appealing and expressive.
If Walker lengthened the search and heightened the suspense, the book would likely enjoy a much wider audience. Still, some children, particularly those living outside of Australia, may enjoy reading about these unusual critters.
Also available as an ebook.