Circle by Jeannie Baker

Jeannie Baker has long been concerned with the human impact on our natural world and Circle is another intricate and radiant book that reflects this. I am a huge fan of Baker’s artwork and her stories and have seen every exhibition that accompanies each publication – I strongly urge you to see the Circle illustrations when they travel around Australia. While reproduction into print is marvellous, to see the detail and textures of her collages firsthand is to see the work of one of our most talented storytellers.

Now, let me tell you about this amazing story which follows the migratory path of the Bar-tailed Godwit (wading bird) as it travels 11,000 kilometres for nine days & nights, without stopping, from its Alaskan breeding ground down to Australia and New Zealand for the summer. Observing their journey is a young wheelchair-bound boy who sees them at his local beach, reads about them in books and wishes he could fly with them. Their return the following year sees him almost recovered and keen to see them again. If only he could have flown with these plucky aviators as they faced predators and challenging weather, but it is urban development that is their biggest threat, oh, and a little thing called climate change.

This is an exquisite depiction of a natural phenomenon and there are fantastic teacher notes available which contain an illuminating interview with Jeannie Baker. Not to be missed.

For ages 4 and up.

Alexa Dretzke is a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Hawthorn.

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Jeannie Baker

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