Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum by Gordon Winch
Published by New Frontier Publishing
Stephen Pym’s richly realistic illustrations are an outstanding feature of this picture book and help to immerse the reader in the gorgeous story, which is set in the Snowy Mountains of Australia.
Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum is not much bigger than a mouse and is one of a rare and threatened species of Australian fauna. She has hibernated throughout most of winter and has lost weight, but now that spring has arrived, she’s awake and very hungry. As Penelope enjoys a meal of crunchy Bogong Moths, she awaits the return of Percy, her mate.
Penelope had been quite prepared to suffer a cold winter, but Percy was different; he has spent that time with the other male Mountain Pygmy Possums at a warmer, lower level on the mountain. However, Percy should be back home with Penelope by now and she is beginning to wonder what has delayed him.
Little does Penelope know, but further down the mountain, humans are having an impact on Percy’s homecoming. A new road is being built and it is blocking the path male Mountain Pygmy Possums always use to return in spring to the high country of the Snowy Mountains.
Luckily, Percy has a human friend in Rick the Ranger and the little possum asks Rick for help. Rick knows if Percy and the other males don’t manage to find their way back up the mountain to their mates there’ll be no baby Mountain Pygmy Possums in their mother’s pouches that summer. It isn’t long before Rick begins negotiations with the road builders and a solution is found…The Tunnel of Love.
Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum is a warm and informative tale that gently reinforces the importance of conservation by showing the good and bad impacts that humans can have on species. Through the sweet narrative and beautiful pictures, the young reader learns that caring about endangered species and working together for solutions to important conservation issues is vital.
This is a beautiful love story, displaying the bond between Penelope and Percy. The importance of the mating cycle to this endangered species, Australia’s only hibernating marsupial, shines through.
At the end of the book, a fact sheet about Mountain Pygmy Possums provides plenty of discussion points for young readers and their parents and teachers.
In a time when loss of species is accelerating, this is a superb, highly relevant and beautifully presented story for youngsters.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author: Gordon Winch
Illustrator: Stephen Pym
Title: Penelope the Mountain Pygmy Possum
Publisher: New Frontier Publishing
Published: May 2016