‘Mopoke’ is the Australian nickname for the Southern Boobook, our smallest and most common species of owl. They are known for a love of peace and quiet, and their eponymous “mo-poke” call.Philip Bunting's first picture book tells the story of one little owl’s struggle to find peace.With a deliberately dry and clipped tone, Mopoke is designed to sound like Australian banter, channel the look of a Glenn Murcutt house, and feel as warm as a midsummer night out in the bush.Using as few words as possible, Mopoke asks the parent or reader to bring their own personal interpretation and expression to the book reading. The relative sparsity of words and pictures requires the reader to increase intonation, experiment with volume, play with pauses, and all of those good things that ultimately enhance the parent-child book-reading experience.Through this method Philip Bunting hopes to encourage more playful interaction between the parent and child, allowing the book to become a platform for deep and focussed engagement. Ultimately, the more fun the child has during their early reading experiences, the more likely they will be to return to books; love reading; improve emergent literacy skills; and later find comfort in reading and learning.If there is a message to Mopoke, it’s one that seeks to counter the entitlement movement. The book is grounded in themes of impermanence, respect and consequence, but if there is a moral takeaway, Bunting hopes Mopoke reminds children (and their parents) that you can’t always get what you want.
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