Shy the Platypus

Author; Leslie Rees.

Illustrations; Naomi Zouwer.

Publisher; National Library of Australia.

RRP $ 24.95

ISBN; 9780642277411

Market- Primary school age

Released; March 2012.

Reviewed by Vicki Griffin.


This beautifully illustrated Australian classic, first published in 1944, has grown to be loved by Australians of all ages. The tale chronicles the life and adventures of Shy as she grows up, leaves the burrow and makes mischief of her own. (National Library of Australia.) This book has been republished,.in the 1940s, very few children’s books were published in Australia due to war-time austerity.

Of those that were, most were about faraway places in Europe and Britain and only a very few related to the Australian experience. The Shy Platypus is one!

What strikes me first about this book is the quality! The illustrations are done with a precise understanding of the Platypus and the paper is good quality. It has been a pleasure to read how a Platypus goes from infancy to adulthood and all the mischief in-between.

The book starts with a personal memoir of how Leslie Rees wrote his books and also has photographs of his literary memorabilia.

To be taken on an adventure from the dark leafy nest where Shy was with his brother and mother to being pushed out to join the real world was a lonely time. Full of scary things. Her mother had never left before.  What was she going to do? I love that this book is so Australian I think that is something that has been lost for a long time and hopefully The Shy Platypus will encourage children to read more Australian themed stories.

When Shy gets caught and put into a dark bag overnight she is quite bewildered until she is unceremoniously dumped on the floor where everyone thinks she has a duck’s bill of all things! Another poignant moment is when Shy makes her own nest and it brings back memories of her being a baby playing in her mother’s nest. If anything this book is educational and if one doesn’t know a lot about the Platypus this is the book to read. It takes the reader on a magic journey as an Australian animal finds its way as other animals do. Once they are old enough they are out of the nest to fend on their own. Shy’s fascinating journey makes for a great read and the author has transcribed a tale that has a calming influential feel to it. A book that every Australian would be proud to own and it gives more meaning to the humble Platypus and as for Shy well  she is ready to lay her twin eggs and set them on the same journey her mother had put her on and the cycle continues. Absolutely beautiful book!

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