The Croc and the Platypus by Jackie Hosking and Marjorie Crosby-Fairall
Both Jackie and Marjorie contribute generously to the community of writers and illustrators. Jackie’s the PIO queen giving us news, reviews books, interviews creators through PIO. Marjorie is the assistant IC for SCBWI and designed the SCBWI Conference logo /brand and was a vital part of the conference organisation.
Jackie Hoskings is a recognised well published children’s poet both in Australia and internationally. Marjorie’s an extraordinary artist/illustrator whose picture book Killer Plants was awarded the CBCA Eve Pownall Award for Information Books.
The poet and the artist work with enormous respect for their mediums. Every word, rhyme, phrase is perfected by Jackie. Every brush stroke and image is perfected by Marjorie.
What makes this pairing exceptional? It’s the combination of excellence in craft with such a delightful sense of humour and a warm understanding of friendships between the most unlikely of characters – the croc and the platypus.
Unashamedly Australian, the end papers open with the reds of our Outback, sprinkling of billabongs, the rare oasis of palms, stark dirty roads, Uluru and desert mounds, railway lines marking enormous distances.
Then arrive the most unlikely of characters. The title page hints at the hilarious ride across the Outback of this odd couple. The hint is there with- the rotund furry platypus sitting nonchalantly on Croc’s tail, hand on the car window ready to get going and Croc prepared with a picnic basket looking in the other direction. The old ute is ready to rock and roll. And boy does this this picture book rock and roll.
Unashamedly Australian, from ‘a rusty old Holden ute’ to ‘damper’ to ‘digeridoo’, to ‘cocky’ …. It’s so wonderfully Aussie and every scene celebrates this Aussiness with enormous hilarity. What’s funnier than Croc woofing down ‘lamingtons’ like a juggler balancing his plate of lamingtons on his stomach while catapulting a lamington into his toothy mouth while platypus makes himself more than comfortable against Croc’s tail gobbling down barbecued fish? Love it, love it.
The vibrant movement of language and illustrations rollick across the red landscape. It begins from the first image of oranges bouncing in the back of the ute while Croc hangs out of both car windows in one direction and platypus hangs out of only one window in the other direction … and it doesn’t stop. It’s an adventure, a ride across the massive landscape of the outback and there’s sheer joy pumping from every page.
The humour in the illustrations continue throughout with panicky animals and sheep who look bemused and the Cocky startled. The total beauty, joy, celebration of friendship and Australia, the wonderful layout of the lines under ‘the bright Southern Cross’ which swerve in the night light as Croc and platypus dance and dance, make your spirits soar.
The extraordinary illustrations partner with Jackie’s wonderful rhyming words to bring to life the best of Australian identity – love of land, mateship, sense of humour and the ridiculous, adventure – ending with the absolutely beautiful final wordless double page spread where Croc and Platypus, the oddest of bedfellows are asleep in their sheepskin tent under the Southern star with Uluru in the distance in the vast landscape of the Australian outback.
This will become a classic and huge congratulations. I am proud to launch The Croc and the Platypus.
July 18, 2014 at The Children’s Bookshop Beecroft