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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Kayla Koala and her Mama is a children’s picture book written by Ha-Le Thai and illustrated by Chuileng Muivah. Kayla Koala and her mama lived idyllic lives in the Australian bush. By day, they were each other’s playmates and at night Mama was always there to comfort Kayla when she was frightened by noises in the dark. One day, however, their life was shattered by a blazing inferno. The heated winds had whipped up bushfires that seemed to roar through all the natural places the koala mom and daughter had called home. Mama was determined to save her baby. With Kayla clinging onto her back, Mama walked for miles, the pads on her feet scorched by the burning earth and the hot winds searing her lungs. Kayla was worried about her mom and wanted to walk on her own to lessen her mother’s burden, but Mama was determined to bring her child to safety. Would they make it? Would Mama survive her ordeal?
Ha-Le Thai’s Kayla Koala and her Mama brings home to young readers the impact and devastation Australia’s wildfires wreaked upon koalas and the other species that live in the bush. One can’t help but wonder how Mama will survive her grim journey and how Kayla could ever get along without her mom. Chuileng Muivah’s moving illustrations work so well with the storyline. You can really feel Mama’s determination to get her child to safety above all else, and you can see her growing fatigue as she presses on. The author includes a number of Learning Activities to help young readers process and more fully understand the story. A link to more activities for pre-k to second graders is also included. Kayla Koala and her Mama is a gripping and suspenseful story that is most highly recommended.