book cover The Best Beak in Boonaroo Bay
by Narelle Oliver

Picture book | 30pp | Years 24

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[ Developing values | Overview | Author profile | Useful websites | Focus questions]

Developing Values

  • We have more similarities than differences but it is the differences which make each of us unique.
  • By understanding the reasons for differences, we can respect those who are different.
  • It is possible to negotiate conflicting situations so everyone wins.
  • Doing your best can be different from being the best.
  • Different living things have different characteristics but most need air, food and water to survive.
  • Life on earth has evolved over time to adapt to changing climates and habitats.
  • Creatures and plants adapt to their surrounding environment to meet their needs for survival.
  • A healthy environment depends on the interaction between the living things within it.


The Best Beak in Boonaroo Bay is a story on three levels.

At the literal level, it is a story in which the wise pelican resolves a dispute between the birds in a way that everyone gets to be the winner.

The story can also be treated as an environmental study, examining the interaction and interdependence between a habitat and the creatures who live there.

It is also an allegory used to explore the similarities and differences between us, and how those differences make us unique.

Author Profile

Narelle Oliver has written a number of picture books which deal with the environment, the creatures in it and how they interact. The Best Beak in Boonaroo Bay was shortlisted for the 1994 CBC Children's Picture Book of the Year and the Wilderness Society Award and her book The Hunt won the CBC Picture Book of the Year in 1996.

Before she wrote her first picture book, Leaf Tail, in 1989, Narelle taught young children who had hearing impairments so she really knows what a quality picture book needs to engage the audience.

She lives in Brisbane and her latest book is called Dancing the Boom-cha-cha Boogie.

You can find out more about the author at:

Useful websites


Mangroves and Saltmarshes

Plants and Animals of the Wet Tropics

Nature's Nautical Nurseries - Save the Mangroves WebQuest

Birds of Australia

Australasian Bird Image Database

ABC-Australian Bird Songs

Classifying Animals

Classifying Plants

Focus questions

Before reading the book

  • What is the setting for this story?
  • Who do you think will be a key character?
  • How do you know?
  • Why might the pelican be wearing a whistle around its neck?
  • Why might there be medals hanging on the branches?
  • If this is a picture book, why is there only one person's name on the cover?

During and after reading the book

  • Look at the pictures of the birds and their beaks. Why might all the beaks be different shapes?
  • How does the shape of each beak help the bird catch its food?
  • Why does each bird eat something different?
  • Who do you think has the best beak?
  • How do you think the birds might resolve their squabble?
  • What would you do to sort it out?
  • What did the birds learn from this?
  • Is this just a story about birds?

© Curriculum Corporation 2006