Desert Lake: The Story of Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre by Pamela Freeman
Published by Walker Books
Through the support of the Australia Council for the Arts, author Pamela Freeman and illustrator Liz Anelli have vividly brought to life a new instalment in the award-winning Nature Storybooks series.
Desert Lake is a fascinating account of the natural phenomenon of the flooding of Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre, an increasingly rare occurrence in the arid lands of central Australia.
Masterfully told on two levels, as a picture book and a non-fiction teaching resource, this book offers an attention to detail rarely seen in books for early readers. It is the mixed media illustrations that first engulf the reader’s attention with their realism and evocation of the vast contrasts between the colours of the earth, the sky and the inland sea. It is then the dual story of the flooding of Lake Eyre and the science and geology behind it that keeps the pages turning.
The story opens with the portrait of a barren salt-encrusted lakebed and follows the journey of Kati Thanda’s ecology from the coming of rains, to its spectacular flooding, and the awakening of the frogs and crustaceans buried deep beneath the riverbed during the drought. Each page provides an overload for the senses with the story and its scientific learnings illustrated in minute detail with a rich tapestry of colours.
Sadly, it is almost as soon as the rains and the animals come, that the lake starts to retreat and the cycle of desert life begins all over again. There is just so much for young readers to learn in this carefully researched book and the mix of fact with traditional picture book storytelling will surely excite even the most reluctant of learners.
Not knowing what to expect at all upon opening this book, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the depth of thought behind it. It brings to life one of the great wonders of the Australian outback and will surely leave a marked impression on readers of any age.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Pamela Freeman
Illustrator: Liz Anelli
Title: Desert Lake, The Story of Kati Thanda – Lake Eyre
Publisher: Walker Books
Published: June 2016