Author's Reading at School Event Scores Big Points for Wildlife Preservation

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New book about Aboriginal Lore and Australian Wildlife was a big hit with young students.

Young students at a "Read Across America" event also celebrated Earth Day just a bit early by helping the Australian Wildlife Hospital, a major project of Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Worldwide Ltd, when author Lee Barwood introduced them to the koala's place in Australian Aboriginal folklore.

The first through fourth grades at Holy Family School, Hazlet, New Jersey (USA), were treated to readings of "Didane and the Trees" and "The Koala's Clinging Baby," two of the tales in Barwood's newest book, KLASSIC KOALAS: ANCIENT ABORIGINAL TALES IN NEW RETELLINGS (Koala Jo Publishing, San Mateo, California). The youngsters also got to ask questions about koalas, Australia, and other native creatures, as well as to sing along to "Waltzing Matilda" to the accompaniment of Barwood's harp.

The classes talked about the Australian words in the song, and learned the meaning of "billabong" and "tuckerbag" as they sang the tale of the swagman. The author herself was then entertained as the third grade class, at the urging of Principal Jacqueline Kraus, sang "Kookaburra" to her. They had learned it in an earlier lesson on Australia and its creatures. Each child received bookmarks and a copy of the words and a glossary for "Waltzing Matilda." Koala beanies and koala necklace trinkets were a hit with the kids; they just loved their prizes.

Barwood displayed photographs of koalas, and explained how they live and what they eat, as well as how they are under threat from loss of habitat and other hazards. She spoke about the need to preserve the environment in which the animals live. Aided by a large plush koala with a baby, or "joey," on its back, she explained how the koala uses its strong arms to climb trees and cling to branches. She also talked about Australian Aboriginal culture, and one of Holy Family's teachers, who had studied Aboriginal culture in Australia, discussed the didgeridoo, offering to bring one in to show to students. And the children were delighted when Barwood drew names to choose winners for koala-themed prizes.

The students at Holy Family, who had written and published their own books, with stories that ranged from the recovery of a missing hamster to the defeat of King Kong, had an Author Tea to which parents were invited. At the tea, Barwood went from classroom to classroom and autographed copies of her book for students who had purchased them.

Young students at the Central Ohio Art Institute, under direction of the school's founder Donna Boiman, contributed to the full-color illustrations in the book, to honor Steve Irwin and contribute to the Wildlife Warriors in his memory. Both the young artists and author Barwood have donated their royalties from sales of the book to the Australian Wildlife Hospital, a project of Wildlife Warriors International.

Titles by Koala Jo Publishing:

Klassic Koalas: Ancient Aboriginal Tales in New Retellings | Klassic Koalas: Vegetarian Delights Too Cute to Eat Klassic Koalas: Mr. Douglas' Koalas and the Stars of Qantas | Klassic Koalas: Vintage Postcards and Timeless Quotes of Wisdom | Koalas: Zen in Fur | Koalas: Moving Portraits of Serenity

Websites: http://www.koalajo.com | http://www.leebarwood.com

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Marlene Satter
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