Guest Post Review
by Vanessa Ryan-Rendall
A big thanks goes to educator and reviewer, Vanessa from Educate. Empower, for providing us with this marvellous review and teaching notes based on a wonderful Indigenous story. 🐸 🐸 🐸
Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins, Magabala Books, October 2017.
Thunder Rolls – BOOM!
Way up north, lightning flashes, thunder rolls, and the frogs sing a chorus.
Big fella rain coming
The magic of the summer rains is wholeheartedly felt throughout this picture book. Living in a place where life blossoms almost immediately after the first rains would be a magical place to be. This book, Big Fella Rain by Beryl Webber and Fern Martins and published by Magabala Books, is a celebration of life and the reliance all living things have on rain.
Figurative language abounds in this story from liquorice clouds, cracked earth, iridescent wings and thirsty reeds. You can feel the world come to life through the story and see it grow in colour through the illustrations.
Big Fella Rain allows the reader to explore how life changes when water plays its role. We can see seeds looking for somewhere to sow themselves, animals drinking up the long-awaited water and rivers forming to support life. The subtle changes of colours in the illustrations throughout the story show the life return to the red sand and cracked earth.
Big Fella Rain is a celebration of the start of the rainy season – the clouds building, the animals retreating and the cracked earth waiting. It is a celebration of the seasons in the Top End of Australia and the delicate nature of the natural world.
Fern Martins‘ illustrations are exquisite and the details she adds to the animal features or the subtle changes in the sky add more depth to the story and show the young reader just what life looks like as the rain falls.
We loved reading this story, looking at the details of the insects, listening to the animals cry for joy and watch the water as it made it’s presence. Big Fella Rain is a wonderful picture book to read out loud, pore over the pictures and think about how much we rely on water.
So what can you do at home?
- How do you rely on water? How much water do you need? How much water does your garden need?
- Explore the seasons in the Top End of Australia.
- Explore which animals and plants rely on the rainy season to help them live or have more babies/spread seeds?
- Why is this called “Big Fella Rain“?
- In this story ‘Mother Earth is happy’ at the end. Why is she happy? Is she ever sad?
- How can you take care of the waterways near you?
Explore the Animals of the Top End
- Which types of tortoises live in the Top End? What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?
- What are Brolgas? Emus? Which other large water birds live there?
- Are there any frogs endemic to the Top End?
- We often forget about insects but they also play a role in this story – how do they cope with the rain? Where might they go when it is too wet?
- Are any animals endangered due to climate change? Less rain or too much rain? Damage from mining or pollution?
- Explore the artwork by Fern Martins – Explore how she has created the illustrations in this story and her other artwork.
Have you ever experienced the start of the rainy season? I would love to hear your stories!
Vanessa Ryan-Rendall is a Primary school teacher who currently works in the library. She has a Masters in Gifted Education and is passionate about encouraging children to read a diverse range of books so that they can open up their minds to other worlds and challenge their thinking.
Vanessa has a blog where she focuses on books that help to educate children (and possibly their parents and teachers) in the areas of sustainability, animal conservation, getting outside and global issues such as poverty, refugees and conflict.
You can read these reviews and receive monthly updates at educateempower.blog or contact her at email@example.com.
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