An anthology of short stories with beautiful illustrations throughout by Australian illustrator, Elise Hurst. Every night, at midnight, when the big clock in the meeting room strikes twelve, all the doors to the cages and animal wards unlock. The animals quietly leave their enclosures and make their way down to the big tree. The owl flies to the top of the tree, picks a leaf and lets it drop. The animal at whose feet it lands tells the story for that night. Each story relates how and why the animal came to be there but then goes on to focus on a tale of one of their relatives in the wild. The guinea pig, for example, tells the gathering a story of a capybara in the Amazon jungle; the grass snake tells how its great, great grandfather constrictor saved seven animals from disaster in the African plains when none of the other animals could; the dog tells a story of a timber wolf. These stories are full of the emotions, hopes and desires, heroism and success that animals "share" with humans. At the start and end of each story there is a ritual which denotes the rights of animals to hope for and receive the basic things needed for a safe and contented life.
It is a song offered up to the universe in the hope that all animals will receive the things they are naturally entitled to as living creatures.
Australian author Jim Howes has written dozens of books for children, and has been the recipient of the Australian Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing and Children's Book of the Year, Wilderness Prize. He has also created children's television shows, such as the award-winning "Lift Off" for the ABC.