2017 Reviews · Australian · children · Picture book

Children’s Book Review: Echidnas Can’t Cuddle by Nieta Manser and illustrated by Lauren Merrick

Title: Echidnas Can’t Cuddleechidnas cuddle

Author:  Nieta Manser

Illustrator:  Lauren Merrick

Published: September 1st 2016

Publisher: Little Steps Publishing

Pages: 32

Genres:  Children (3-6)

RRP: $16.95

Erik the echidna is feeling sad. His quills make it hard to cuddle his family and friends — nobody likes a spiky hug! But when a few things go astray, Erik finds that his prickly exterior can come in very handy …

My review:

Author Nieta Manser, in partnership with illustrator Lauren Merrick, bring children aged 3 to 6 years old a charming picture book titled, Echidnas Can’t Cuddle. In this engaging tale, children are provided with an opportunity to learn another side to the spiky echidna, as Erik the echidna shows us the sensitive side to this bush creature.

Echidnas Can’t Cuddle is the story of little Erik the echidna. Erik is a sad echidna, with quite the dilemma. His spikes seem to get in the way whenever he wants to cuddle his family and friends. He just doesn’t know what to do with all his spikes! When the frustration of his quills gets the better of him, Erik heads out into the darkness of the bush alone, where he believes he will be better off. However, a big snake, a horde of bush bees and a mighty eagle all try to hurt Erik, with no success.  It comes as quite the surprise to this gentle soul! Finally Erik realises that his spikes are important to his life and safety. His spikes offer the perfect protection from danger and make him super special. Erik seals his new found discovery and return home with a kiss for his family and friends, which he learns is just as special as a cuddle!

I have a lot of respect for children’s picture books that showcase the natural beauty of our country’s unique flora and fauna. Not only are these kind of books a feast for the eyes, they also offer an accessible way in which to educate children about the importance of protecting Australia’s wildlife. Echidnas Can’t Cuddle works as a text to extend our knowledge and understanding of one of our most treasured bush creatures, the echidna.

Told in catchy rhyming verse, Echidnas Can’t Cuddle has a gentle beat, perfect for bedtime story time read aloud opportunities. The style of storytelling author Nieta Manser adopts with her emphasis on rhyme, means this book will be music to the ears of those who read this delightful book.

Whilst Echidnas Can’t Cuddle provides the reader with a great environmental lesson on some of Australia’s most beloved animals, this book also manages to combine some important life lessons, relevant to children. These include messages on self confidence, self acceptance, growth, jealousy, difference, fear, friendship and love. It is a book I am certain will offer plenty to discuss with young children. Echidnas Can’t Cuddle allows young readers to feel a connection to their experiences and those offered by the book.

The illustrations that accompany the text in Echidnas Can’t Cuddle are captivating. I found myself in awe of the texture and layers used by illustrator Lauren Merrick.  The techniques used by Merrick to bring Australia’s landscape, the setting of the novel and the characteristics of the animals featured in this book is quite magnificent. I particularly took a fondness to the beautiful print style features of the stunning plant life contained in the pages of this book.

Both my children (aged 5 and 7) and I just loved Echidnas Can’t Cuddle. I know we were all intrigued as to how poor Erik the echidna could work out a way to receive the cuddles and love he craves. The journey to get there, through the quintessential Australian bush setting, was a wonder for all of us, as I am certain it will be with any audience. I am sure once school resumes back again next year I will be sharing this one with my kindergarten students. Echidnas Can’t Cuddle is a wonderful tribute to Australiana.

Echidnas Can’t Cuddle by Nieta Manser and illustrated by Lauren Merrick was published on September 1st 2016 by Little Steps Publishing. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

*I wish to thank the publisher, Little Steps Publishing, for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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