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Described as non-fiction, the text of Dingo nonetheless tells the story of a dingo mother and her litter and mate, as she hides and then hunts, and carries the reader though evocative landscapes… as well as giving a parallel, crisp, factual, non-intrusive text to accompany the story and paintings. Claire Saxby invites the reader in at once, ‘Can you see her? There — deep in the stretching shadows — a dingo’. She keeps the text spare and yet vibrant, as we follow the dingo through spectacular landscapes with a lyrical text: ‘Dingo lifts her head, tastes the air, and then uncurls. Five plump pups spill.’ The factual descriptions accompanying each double-page spread do not jar, but add to the dingo story as we learn real facts about this oft-maligned animal, such as, 'All pack members help raise the pups...' A second reading of the factual text alone may be equally satisfying.
The writer is unsentimental about the ‘lore of the bush’, giving insight into a day in the dingo’s life and especially the way the female must fight to survive. Tannya Harricks’s illustrations are striking. She explains her sketches are first made in situ in the bush and worked over in the studio. They compel the reader to explore the forest and mountains, evoked in thick brush strokes that make the Australian landscape glow and bring the dingo alive. The painterly surfaces achieved in oils and through thick brushstrokes have strong appeal and marry perfectly with the text.
Dingo is an outstanding work because of this combination of a story and a factual text paired so well with particularly striking artwork. This makes a most appealing picture storybook, one to be studied and enjoyed in several ways.