Review: ‘Bilby Secrets’ by Edel Wignell and Mark Jackson

Today I’m reviewing somewhat of a cross-over book. It looks like a picture-book…and of course is..but it’s a non-fiction book which is part of Walker Books’ Nature Storybooks series.

Bilby Secrets, written by Edel Wignell and illustrated by Mark Jackson, is the story of the Greater Bilby. It is told in narrative style, with supporting factual text on the same page. The factual information is presented in a different font to distinguish it from the story-line itself. Make sure if you’re reading it aloud, you stick to the non-italicised text!

This is a simple, linear narrative as Baby bilby progresses from birth in the burrow to being able forage on his own.

Set in the Pilbara, the deep  blues of the night sky and the iron-oxide reds of the sand and rocks create a mysterious and sometimes dangerous night-time world.There are grubs and insects, owls and snake, lizards and cockatoos…great for a game of spotting the species! A hungry fox also threatens the bilby’s survival. What I like about this story as a science teacher, is that there is no anthropomorphism…baby bilby doesn’t have a name and he doesn’t have human-like thoughts. It’s a straight up tale of survival, competiton and habitat.

Walker Books are doing a great job of preparing curriculum ideas for teachers. They are comprehensive, providing not only background information on the author, illustrator and the subject matter but also useful activities which you can put straight into practice. You can download classroom ideas here.

There are a range of activities to suit a variety of ages…from more challenging research activities looking at the impact of settlement and introduced species on habitat and survival , to ideas about creating a diorama to show the bilby’s habitat. The notes also examinge the way in which bilbies live underground, thier physical characteristics and there are some links to bilby conservation sites for those seeking extension actities. Lots of cross-curriculum activities, including some language activites discussing the contrast between the descriptive/storytelling style of the narrative and the informative/ factual style of the supporting text. Also available for download from the Walker Books site  is a stencil for younger readers to make there own bilby ears and a song to be sung to the tune of Waltzing Matilda.

As per previous reviews, this book fits nicely into a number of categories in the new National Curriculum


Biological sciences (Foundation)

  1. Living things have basic needs, including food and water (ACSSU002)

Biological sciences (Year 1)

  1. Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017)
  2. Living things live in different places where their

Biological sciences (Year 2)

  1. Living things grow, change and have offspring similar to themselves (ACSSU030)

Biological sciences (Year 3)

  1. Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (ACSSU044)

Biological sciences (Year4)

  1. Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072)Critical and creative thinking
  2. Living things, including plants and animals, depend on each other and the environment to survive (ACSSU073)

Extracted from:

Bilby Secrets

Author: Edel Wignell

Illustrator: Mark Jackson

Walker Books, 2011

ISBN 9781921529320



Filed under Uncategorized

4 responses to “Review: ‘Bilby Secrets’ by Edel Wignell and Mark Jackson

  1. As a theme-based primary teacher who builds units around a book, I’m really liking the sounds of this book, Cat. Love your comprehensive review.

  2. Thanks Kat, I’d love to hear what you think about the book and about other books you’ve used in relation to science themes. I’m hoping this blog can be a caring and sharing resource for teachers and writers alike.

  3. Hi Cat,
    Love your in-depth review and your links to curriculum & educational information..
    Good luck with your website:)

  4. Hi Karen, hope it’s useful. It’s also good sometimes for writers to keep an eye on the educational potential for trade books, as schools are such a large market.

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