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BOOK REVIEW: Koala Bare by Jackie French and illustrated by Matt Shanks

| 6 December 2017 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Koala Bare by Jackie French and illustrated by Matt Shanks

HarperCollins Australia
September 2017
Hardcover, $24.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Children/Picture Books/Early Learning



Jackie French has entertained us before with her Diary of a Wombat. The legendary author of some 150 books once again draws inspiration from Australian wildlife, except that this time it is the koala who is in her sights. Koala Bare is intended for young readers aged three and up and it introduces them to this icon of Australian fauna and also educates people about the fact that koala’s aren’t bears, they’re marsupials.

Get this label off my toe!
You study bears,
so you should know…
I may be furry,
fat & square
but I am definitely
not a bear!

French does an outstanding job with the prose here. The story is told from the perspective of a passionately-emphatic koala who isn’t afraid to tell things like it is. The rhyming text appears so deceptively simple and effortless that it reads like an absolute treat. French also uses fun and humour to compare the koala to real and imaginary bears like polar bears, pandas and those three bears that were acquainted with Goldilocks. This means that the book is both informative and enjoyable, and kids can learn about a loud and proud koala who is content to just be itself.

Aren’t you listening?
Don’t you see?
I’m not a bear,
I’m simply…

This book is beautifully illustrated by upcoming illustrator Matt Shanks, who creates gorgeous watercolour paintings to accompany the whimsical text. He also peppers the pictures with cute little gags, like a koala getting destructive with a pot of honey and the same character mooning some toffy-nosed bears who may believe they are superior because the koala isn’t one of their kind. The cover is also wonderful because the koala’s body is made out of flock so it has silky, soft fur.

Teddy bears may feel superior,
but not when faced with my posterior

Koala Bare is ultimately a book that is a very cleverly-presented slice of Australiana. It’s one that children will enjoy thanks to the sweet storyline, colourful text and the cheeky-but-loveable lead character. Koala Bare proves that you should never judge a book or an animal by its cover because this could prove to be more than it could bare!

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

Natalie Salvo is a foodie and writer from Sydney. You can find her digging around in second hand book shops or submerged in vinyl crates at good record stores. Her website is at:

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