Samantha Tidy and  Rachel Gyan: Wollemi – Saving a Dinosaur Tree

CSIRO Publishing, Australia, 2023

We were walking around the Australian National Botanic Gardens recently and came across a Wollemi, described as a dinosaur, not because of its appearance but because of its age. The legend panel beside the tree spoke of its chance discovery by David Noble and this is indeed the springboard for Samantha Tidy’s text in Wollemi.

Sometimes we need to keep secrets to protect the precious. Wollemi both tells the story of this chance discovery of the pine species that has survived for 200 million years and informs us of the importance of its protection from environmental and human harm.

Like much of Samantha Tidy’s work, it is fictionalised fact, its story elements aimed at exciting children about the wonders of the natural world and, in this case, the miracle of the Wollemi’s discovery and the equal miracle of its survival.

Readers are then asked to consider the issue of what is precious and further, what we can each do to protect our endangered species. The book very much encourages the notion of the citizen scientist. We can all do something towards the survival of our planet – such an important message for children and adults alike.

Rachel Gyan’s jaunty illustrations are a perfect visual representation of the story, beautifully capturing both the ancient forest and the child’s world. This book will be valued by school librarians, always on the look out for ‘fact books’ to satisfy readers looking for entertaining but ‘real life’ texts.

Thank you to Samantha Tidy for lending me a copy of the book for reference purposes.