Author: Andrew Kelly, author and environmentalist

Peregrines in the City

by Andrew Kelly and Sue Lawson, illustrated by Dean A Jones

Look up! There is wildness in the heart of the city. HIgh on the ledges of the tall buildings, the peregrine falcons come to lay their eggs.

The compelling story of these fierce and beautiful birds.

ISBN: 9781742036519
RRP: $24.99
Hardback: 32pp
Format: 260mm x 270mm
Junior non-fiction
Category: Wildlife, habitats, peregrines, city, ecology, nesting

Reviews

Read Plus

Highly recommended.

This enthralling story of a pair of peregrine falcons nesting in Collins Street in Melbourne will touch the hearts of all readers, young and old as they see wild animals surviving in the harsh city environment. New words will be learnt, facts about these birds given while a story of the life cycle of these animals will be eagerly absorbed.

It begins with two falcons nesting on a ledge high above Collins Street. The male falcon, the tiercel lands next to the female and hands over his catch, a pigeon which he caught on the wing using his incredible speed, talons and dexterity to grab the prey. The female eagerly pulls apart the flesh and eats. She later lays four eggs in the gravel scrape. These are rolled around under her making sure each stays warm and the tiercel keeps bringing in food he has caught, while at times he takes over the nest duties while she hunts.

After six weeks they begin to hatch, and three small fluffy balls are in the scrape while the fourth egg is rolled to the back. Called eyases, the chicks grow steadily on the diet the tiercel brings in. During the day the pair take turns hunting and keeping them safe, while at night the male watches while the female sits on the chicks. Hunting is lessened as the chicks grow, their fluffy feathers replaced by darker stronger ones. They practise walking up and down the ledge preparing for the day they will leave. Their parents are watchful but bring in less food, forcing the chicks to take to the air. They leave behind the scrape, the fourth egg and feathers and bones regurgitated after their meals.

The precise text brings the life story of these animals to life, introducing words readers may not know, but encouraging them in their use. The story is intertwined with information, told in such a way that it is absorbed without hesitation. It is simply fascinating, telling of how animals survive in what is considered a hostile environment, encouraging children to look out for the peregrine, the largest and strongest of the falcons. Children will scan the skies over their cities to watch for these birds.

At the end of the book is a page of information which adds to the facts already given, along with an outline history about the falcons in Collins Street.

The illustrations are magnificent, drawing the eye in to look closely at their feathers, talons, beaks and plumage. The background of the ledge with its spill of feathers and dung adds a note of admiration for these animals, making the most of a strange, hostile environment for their nest. The almost photographic images will make students gasp as they turn the pages. The picture of the diving tiercel, the city at night, the pair at the scrape, the chicks hatching … all are simply wonderful, giving the reader a very intimate view of the family of falcons. The claustrophobic ledge, the protection of the parents as they watch over their chicks, the final leap to flight, are all given an extra emotional pull through the detailed, close up illustrations. Jones’ obsession with the way pictures tell a story shines through as he depicts falcons here and penguins (2021).

Themes Survival, Peregrine falcons, Raptors, Melbourne, Birds.

Fran Knight

The Accidental Penguin Hotel

by Andrew Kelly, illustrated by Dean A Jones

The little penguins come to the rich waters of the bay to hunt, but they don’t stay. There is no place to build a home. So they travel far, back to their island.

What will it take for one little penguin to make the bay his home?

ISBN: 9781742036281
RRP: $24.99
Hardback: 32pp
Format: 260mm x 270mm
Junior non-fiction
Category: Wildlife, habitats, penguins, colony establishment

Reviews

This picture book explains to youngsters how these cute birds, also known as fairy penguins, checked into a bayside “hotel” – a man-made breakwater – and stayed on. Alongside captivating illustrations, it’s also an informative guide to how the penguins migrate, build habitats and develop colonies. 

The Weekend HERALD SUN

Told by Andrew Kelly and beautifully illustrated by Dean A Jones this is an uplifting story that shows that the relationship between humans and the natural world can be a positive one, as well as demonstrating how that world adapts to deal with issues such as overcrowding. But charming as it is as a standalone story, it is one that has enormous potential to be a springboard into further investigations both of the penguins (with comprehensive teachers’ notes) and then human impact generally.  If you “can’t stop progress” how can it be managed through environmental impact studies, local support groups and so forth?  Is there a development happening in the readers’ community that might be having a wider impact than is immediately visible?  The opportunity to “act locally, think globally” is very apparent and this book can fulfil the purpose of the author. “Let us walk gently together.”

Barbara Braxton Teacher-Librarian

“There’s a lot to love about this book. The colour palette used by illustrator Dean Jones picks up the inky blue tinged upper body and flippers. The story reveals the life cycle of the little Penguin as well as touching on the dangers they face. The thing I loved the most about this book is that it shows children that animal colonies can adapt and thrive in city areas. Australian teachers and librarians should definitely check out [Wild Dog’s] catalogue, there’s a lot of gems there for use in the classroom.
Lucy – Love Four Learning

My daughters adored this story and loved even more knowing that it was based on the real Little Penguins that populate Melbourne’s bustling areas. The Accidental Penguin Hotel written by Andrew Kelly has a lovely story and gorgeous illustrations by Dean Jones perfect for those little ones who might grow up in the area and be familiar with the penguins.”
Jessica Russell – Can You Tell Me A Story

Wilam: A Birrarung Story

In this stunning picture book beautifully given form by Indigenous artist Lisa Kennedy, respected Elder Aunty Joy Murphy and Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly tell the story of one day in the life of the vital, flourishing Birrarung (Yarra river).

Wilam is published by Black Dog Books, and is an ode to Australian rivers, the flora and fauna that live on them, and the function they perform as a part of modern day life.

ISBN: 9781925381764
RRP: $24.99

Download teachers’ notes
(3.0Mb .pdf file)

REVIEWS OF WILAM

“The text of this exceptional book, by Aunty Joy Murphy and Andrew Kelly, has an incantatory magic, mingling English and the Aboriginal language of Woiwurrung: “As ngua rises, turning clouds over the distant city red . . . Birrarung begins its long winding path down to palem warreen.” 
Wall Street Journal The Best Books of 2020: Children’s Books
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-best-books-of-2020-childrens-books-11607642255

“The whole book is like this, page after page of dreamlike language paired with striking artwork, all evoking the ecology of the Yarra River, which runs through the city of Melbourne to the sea.”
Wall Street Journal
https://www.wsj.com/articles/childrens-books-busy-lives-in-a-watery-world-11596206683

“Wilam: A Birrarung Story is an absolutely stunning picture book that explores the teeming wildlife that exists along Birrarung. It teaches us Woiwurrung language for the river and its inhabitants, and asks us to reflect on the importance of the river not only to animals but also to the humans who live in its vicinity. This book is a must-have for every school, library and home in Victoria.”
Readings

“Wilam is a truly beautiful story in both its words and pictures…This is a joyful book that returns much to the thoughtful reader, and offers a great deal for classroom use.”
CBCA Reading Time Blog

“This beautiful book adds to the growing number of books encapsulating our Aboriginal heritage, demonstrating our shared history and culture. Each page resonates with meaning, begging to be looked at closely while pondering the enormous time span represented by this river’s being home to so many, in the past, now and into the future…Highly Recommend.”
ReadPlus

“Many of the plates would be stunning works of art on their own. But in combination with the text from Aunty Joy and Andrew Kelly, we have a special book to share with children aged 3-8.”
Trevor Cairney Blog

“2019 has been declared by the UN to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages and this is the perfect addition to a collection celebrating this. Not only does it embed the language of the people whose lands were focused around Birrarung into a context that makes sense to all readers, it also exemplifies the connection between text and illustrations as readers must use the one to understand the other. A must-have!”
The Bottom Shelf

“This is a highly significant work, distinguished by the seamless blend of Woiwurrung language and English…The text is superb, with a carefully chosen blend of words from each language.”
Magpies Magazine

“I cannot emphasise enough how this picture book simply bursts with life and the complete affinity with country that is held close by our First Australians…Highly recommended for all readers from prep upwards.”
Just So Stories

“Wilam is more than just a story about a river. It’s an inspiration, gently leading us to find out more about the land in which we live.”
Glam Adelaide

“This is a book to treasure, from the stunning cover that emanates the fresh river air and teeming flora and fauna, to the glossary of Woiwurrung words, which have been integrated into the English text. The language is poetic and beautiful, while each double-page spread is a breathtaking work of art as Lisa Kennedy’s rich and vibrant strokes breathe the life and colour of the river onto the pages. Wilam will hopefully find a home in every classroom and family as a wonderful celebration that weaves together flora and fauna with people, water and land, and past and present.”
Kids Book Review
http://www.kids-bookreview.com/2019/08/review-wilam-birrarung-story.html

“The significance and beauty of this publication cannot be understated… It opens up opportunity for those that are interested in learning about Australia’s traditional landowners, the history of the Yarra and the birds and animals that called it home, to research, read and learn.The book is a festival of artwork. Stunning and poetic in structure and meaning, it’s a welcomed lesson in Indigenous culture and language. Aunty Jo Murphy and Andrew Kelly have created a magnificent example of the excellence our Indigenous history and its significance and place in our life today. A spectacular explosion of colour takes place on every page. It’s truly a book of extraordinary beauty and value.”
Boomerang Books Blog
https://blog.boomerangbooks.com.au/guest-review-wilam-a-birrarung-story/2019/08#more-37625

Little Lon

by Andrew Kelly, illustrated by Mark Jackson and Heather Potter

Little Lon is a picture book that scrapes back the layers of history to show how people lived and worked in a post settlement Australian city. Behind the grand buildings of the big streets was Little Lon. A working-class district of little houses and narrow lanes, bursting with life and the stories of the people who lived there. The poor of the time are not often celebrated in traditional histories, but Little Lon shows us something of the way people really lived.

“A glimpse at the life of Melbourne girl Marie Hayes a century ago…a delight to revisit in modern times.”

HERALD SUN

Little Lon…is a joyous story of growing up in an area that others thought of as a slum.”

FEMALE.COM.AU

“This is…a history of a special place and time, a story behind the story, when migrants from all over the world, made Australia their home and were accepted no matter where they came from.”

“This is…a history of a special place and time, a story behind the story, when migrants from all over the world, made Australia their home and were accepted no matter where they came from.”
KIDS’ BOOK REVIEW