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NT Writers' Centre Review - Beauty by Sandra Kendell

I’m left with a smile on my face – even as an adult – after reading Sandra Kendell’s sweetly illustrated children’s book Beauty. This is a story with some wonderfully relevant themes about the environment, conservation and just learning how to get along with your neighbour, all wrapped up in a child’s love for the tree in her garden.

By Kingsley Gittins

The simple and effective narrative will appeal to younger children, and the language is perfectly attuned to an early primary school audience. This is then mixed with a steady dose of environmental and scientific fact that gives the book substance without taking away from the story.

Kendell is also not afraid to use technical jargon such as ‘symbiosis’ and ‘photosynthesis’, a bold choice that pays off and gives the book credibility in terms of its educational value. It is not for nothing she recently scored an NT Natural Resource Management Award for her contribution to conservation and environmental education!

The quality of the illustrations is immediately apparent, stunning watercolours and bold, bright colours, combined with intricately drawn birds and insects to great effect. What is even more pleasing is that the animals, plants – even the buildings – are very obviously from the Northern Territory.

I believe I even spotted the animated possum that tells me to turn my phone off at the Deckchair Cinema before a film!

There is much talk about children no longer being interested in reading, and that the reason for this is they aren’t finding themselves or their experiences in the books on offer. Well, we can address this problem by getting kids to read great local books such as this one. And maybe us adults can learn a thing or two along the way.

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