This is a book about Nature for naughty kids.
Nice kids learn about the life-cycle of the monarch butterfly and tadpoles turning into frogs.
Naughty kids want to know about squashed hedgehogs and dead pukeko.
Nice kids like to look at books with pretty pictures of puppy dogs and kittens.
Naughty kids would rather see blood and guts and maggots.
And rats. Lots of rats. Don't forget the rats.
I admit to being a little dubious about this one, when Mr11 requested I get a copy for him as part of his homeschooling reference library. That his mother agreed with his request gave me cause to believe it wouldn't be a silly waste of time. I am so grateful her instincts were better than mine, because after reading this book I can see that it isn't all about the blood and guts, it carries a lot of valuable information about the world as it is, not the highly sanitised version most 'standard' schoolbooks carry. The world is NOT full of pristine anatomical diagrams... it has many more squashed possums than any 'respectable' textbook would even dare to mention.
The information in this delightful and entertaining reference book is down-to-earth, witty and as accurate as one can be without delving into high-brow science... and in fact it cleverly manages to take chunks of that high-brow stuff and drag it kicking and screaming down to a level a pre-teen can easily and readily access it, if the evidence of my son's rapid grasp of how some invertibrates' and amphibians' mating systems differ is anything to go by. Typical boy.
The diagrams are clear and concise, informative and irreverent, but without stepping over the vague grey line into "unacceptable" - I applaud the authors for diong such an excellent knife-edge balancing act to bring this off without really going anywhere you wouldn't want your kids to go either. Lots of learning, lots of fun, very little to be concerned about. Maybe a few awkward questions that prompt the "facts of life" discussion that usually starts with "Ummm, go ask your mother" and ends with some confussion about where this mysterious cabbage patch has vanished to in the years since they were found in it.
Overall, if your kids have even the slightest interest in the realities of nature and NZ wildlife - yes, this book is quite NZ oriented - then this is a book you should immediately borrow from your local library, road-test it with your kids, and if they respond well to it, go out and buy a copy. You won't regret it, and your kids will find great pleasure in using this to further their education.
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