#thetroubleintunetown #blogblast #booksontour #day12

Author Article by Maura Pierlot

Lyrebird – The Silent Teacher

So what’s so special about the lyrebird, anyway? Besides it’s physical presence, this band member has more secret talents than we may have realised, and particularly in this story. Maura explains… 

Readers are always asking me about the lyrebird that appears on every page of The Trouble in Tune Town. It’s one of my favourite parts of the story.

The idea for the lyrebird came about in the early illustration phase. For her first pencil sketches, Sophie Norsa, the illustrator, drew a small bird throughout the story. I loved the idea of a silent companion for Meg, someone to stay by her side as she struggled to learn her song. Sophie’s bird was cute and rounded, like a duck. When I showed the sketches to my husband Kieran, he immediately asked, ‘How about a lyrebird?’ and I thought, ‘Great idea!’

The lyrebird is an amazing animal that can mimic virtually any sound they hear. The male lyrebird woos the female, singing his heart out, often imitating countless birds in one song, producing a rich, textured sound like a choir. In addition to mimicking natural noises, lyrebirds can reproduce man-made sounds like chainsaws, car alarms and camera clicks. The lyrebird got its name because its tail has two brown feathers – sometimes over two feet long! – that curve like a lyre around a white fan. Lyrebirds can fly but rarely do because they run so fast.

We have many lyrebirds (called Superb lyrebirds) at our property in Jamberoo, NSW which is abundant with wildlife – wombats, echidnas, kangaroos, lizards and countless native birds. We see lyrebirds nearly every day on our rainforest walks; usually we hear them first – a song or rustling noise, followed by a flash of their glorious tail feathers. We’ve never seen them under duress, but understand that they can let out an almighty shriek to ward off predators. I’m not sure I want to hear what that sounds like!

In traditional beliefs, the lyrebird often appeared as a teacher. There’s also a Buddhist saying that a teacher appears when a student is ready to learn. So the lyrebird was well suited to the story on many levels, and I would love to have incorporated some of its unique qualities. But in the end, less is often best, and the lyrebird seemed better suited to lend moral support, offering strength through silence – staying by Meg’s side, encouraging her to keep going when she wants to give up.

We all need a lyrebird now and again.

Maura Pierlot.

Watch the amazing lyrebird in action!


WIN a hardback copy of the groovalicious picture book, The Trouble in Tune Town by Maura Pierlot and Sophie Norsa!

In 25 words or less, what instrument are you?

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The Trouble in Tune Town will be officially launched on Sunday May 6 at the National Library of Australia, Canberra from 2PM, in association with Music for Canberra. There will music, activities, book reading and signing. Click the image for details.

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2 thoughts to “Lyrebird – The Silent Teacher by Maura Pierlot

  • Debra Tidball

    Lyrebirds are amazing creatures – and what a brilliant pairing in a book about musical instruments!

    • Just Write For Kids

      Absolutely, so clever! Fits perfectly. Thanks for the comment, Debra! 🙂


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