Cyclone by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley

A review by Nalini Haynes

Cyclone tells the story of the cyclone that destroyed Darwin in the 1970s in rhyming verse with evocative watercolour illustrations. While Darwin is destroyed, families are separated and Christmas is ruined, and families lose all their worldly possessions. However, their new house is built to endure and Christmas is around the corner again at the end of the book.

With climate change causing catastrophic floods and fires, Cyclone is an excellent book for teaching children about what can happen but also that they can endure, that communities can be resilient and life goes on after trauma. This simple poem picture book is an excellent read not only for children but for adults too; I found it to be an encouraging reminder that there is life after tragedy.

Cyclone should be taught in primary schools as part of the curriculum in order to help build resilience. Scholastic even has teachers’ notes! Although the small uneven serif font is not the easiest text for learning readers, Cyclone’s vocabulary, story and images make it suitable for all primary school children and an excellent basis for a larger learning project.