CM March 8, 
1996. Vol. II, Number 21

image The Story of Rosy Dock.

Written and Directed by Jeannie Baker.
Film Australia, 1995. 10 minutes, VHS, $99.00.
Distributed by T.H.A. Media Distributors Ltd.
Phone: 1 (800) 661-4919 /
Fax: 1 (604) 688-8349.

All grades / All ages.
Review by Diane Fitzgerald.

***1/2 /4


People say it's the oldest river in the world. . . . Surrounded by desert and the worn-down bones of pre-historic mountains. For thousands of years, almost nothing here changed.
Then, over a hundred years ago, newcomers from Europe settled by the river. . . .

This short and gently paced film tells the story of the plant Rosy Dock; how it came to Australia, and how it came to cover vast spaces. Written and designed by internationally acclaimed children's book author Jeannie Baker, The Story of Rosy Dock is told with very little dialogue, and only spare narration; mostly, it is the collage-based animation that tells the tale.


From the first shot, of a window opening to reveal the river, the images draw the viewer into a strikingly visualized world. One of the newcomers to Australia is a woman who brings seeds for the red Rosy Dock plant -- "Oh, I do hope these seeds grow," she says, "it'll make such a difference to this place." Real foreshadowing; though for a while we stay with the woman and the flood that comes upon her home (the film, though short and simple finds times for little touches like having her cat stuck on the roof amidst the vast stretch of water).


But in time the animation and narration unfold more about the dry land and its cycle of floods. Then we see how the water spreads the Rosy Dock seeds throughout the desert, until they begin to blossom and cover the landscape in a profusion of red (with a rabbit, another ill-considered import to Australia, hopping through it).

The story is simple enough, and the visual changes so striking, that even students in early grades will be able to understand how Rosy Dock made a startling alteration to Australia's ecology. And although the film doesn't preach -- in fact, the transformation itself seems almost miraculous from one perspective -- it's a simple step to realize the moral: that even little changes in the environment can lead to profound disturbances, and require great caution. The animation is also sophisticated enough that the visuals alone will hold the interest of older viewers.

Available with Teachers' Discussion Notes.

Highly recommended.

Diane Fitzgerald is an elementary-school teacher in Saskatoon.

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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364