Author(s): Diane Jackson Hill
Museum Victoria Publishing is thrilled to launch the delightful new children's book, Chooks in Dinner Suits, written by Diane Jackson Hill and illustrated by Craig Smith. Chooks in Dinner Suits will be published on 1 June 2016. Inspired by the world-first Middle Island Maremma Project in Warrnambool, this is an incredible true story about one town's efforts to protect their population of Little Penguins. Faced with the decline of their feathered friends, the people involved in the project undertook a radical approach and trained two Maremma dogs to become penguin guardians. The story follows a waddle of Little Penguins who live on the tiny, rocky outcrop of Middle Island. Foxes have caused their numbers to dwindle and local chicken farmer, Swampy Marsh, thinks his dogs Max and Mimi can protect the penguins. They have been protecting his chooks for years and after all, penguins are really just chooks in dinner suits! But everyone laughs at Swampy's idea, until eventually he can count the last few penguins coming to shore on one hand. Desperate, the townsfolk decide to give Swampy's idea a chance and Max and Mimi become the penguin protectors of Middle Island. Inspiration for this story struck Diane Jackson Hill in the most unlikely of places - on the wall of a toilet block. It was a sign on the Warrnambool foreshore facilities, spruiking the success of the Middle Island Maremma Project on the rocky outcrop nearby. Her interest piqued, Diane joined the Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Group and met volunteers who were working on the project. "I wanted to help in some way and thought a picture book would be a good way to promote the project nationally. Plus, what better way to show kids that creative and natural solutions can work," said Hill. Diane hopes that this book will educate children about the importance of protecting and restoring our marine environments and promote the amazing work that the Middle Island Maremma Project has done to protect this endangered colony.