REVIEW: Bouncing Back – An Eastern Barred Bandicoot Story by Rohan Cleave and illustrated by Coral Tulloch

Published: 1st April 2018

Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback picture book (borrowed from the library)

RRP: $24.95

5/5 Stars

A beautifully illustrated story of this marsupial’s plight and how it was saved from extinction.

The Eastern Barred Bandicoot is one of Australia’s most threatened species. When their existence came under extreme threat from habitat loss, predators and human development, Eastern Barred Bandicoots found refuge in the most unlikely of places – a garbage dump. This captivating true story details the plight these small, nocturnal marsupials faced, and the outstanding efforts that ensured their protection. Written by Rohan Cleave and illustrated by Coral Tulloch, Bouncing Backshows that even on the brink of extinction, there is hope for the survival of our most vulnerable species.

Rohan Cleave and Coral Tulloch’s first book, Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, won a Whitley Award for Children’s Natural History Book and was an Honour Book in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Awards (Eve Pownall Information Book category).

Bouncing Back: An Eastern Bandicoot Story by Melbourne zookeeper Rohan Cleave and illustrated by Coral Tulloch, is a non-fiction picture book seeking to educate its readers about the Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the environmental issues/dangers it’s currently facing as an Australian endangered species thanks to deforestation, urban developments, introduced predators and pollution.

This book is quite frankly fascinating. Narrated as though the Eastern Barred Bandicoot itself was talking to you about its various attributes, habitats and facts, the narrative is riveting and quirky, but at the same time, absolutely devastating. With only two natural areas for habitation in the world – Victoria and Tasmania – the Eastern Barred Bandicoot was fast approaching the very real danger of extinction. They had all but vanished from Victoria all together; the last known habitat for them there was a garbage dump prior to intervention from environmental conservation teams!

All is not lost however, a group of quick-thinking specialist have started captive breeding and research studies into the Eastern Barred Bandicoot species, and together with the breeding programs, their numbers have been steadily growing. Part of the bandicoot population was also moved on to small, coastal islands where they could roam free from their usual predators in specially restricted/protected zones.

Rohan Cleave’s fascination with animals shines through the text in Bouncing Back, making it the perfect mix of zookeeper spiel and creative non-fiction. The information presented is revealed in such a way that the reader never feels overwhelmed or overloaded; care has been taken not to place blame on the reader’s shoulders and an overarching theme of hope and thanks lifts from almost every page. It truly is remarkable.

Coral Tulloch is an outstanding artist and illustrator in her own right … but this book is something incredibly special. Her illustrations are full colour, pencil drawings that capture your attention and never let go. The images start off small (decoration corners of the page and playfully position around the text) and borderline scientific with their factual presentation, before becoming full-page, larger than life illustrations that leap off the page. The double-page spread featuring the garbage dump is horrifically stunning with its realistic representation and the blue background spread with the two bandicoots looking up to the reader is heartbreakingly cute. The detail is astounding, with their fur so realistic you could almost touch them!

I’m somewhat ashamed to admit that I didn’t know a lot about this animal prior, and this book is not something I would have usually picked up if it wasn’t for the CBCA Eve Pownall Awards 2019. As it is, I can not thank the CBCA volunteers for bringing this book to the attention of a vast number of Australians. It deserves to be in every library and primary school classroom.


To purchase a copy of Bouncing Back: An Eastern barred Bandicoot Story, visit the following online retailers:

CSIRO AUS | Amazon AUS | Booktopia | Book Depository |

To learn more about Rohan Cleave, visit the following social media sites:

Goodreads |

To learn more about Coral Tulloch, visit the following social media sites:

Facebook | Goodreads |



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