Charisma the Olympic champion, Moko the playful dolphin, Migaloo the white whale, and Einstein the hugging camel are just some of the wonderful Australasian animals featured in this fascinating, informative book.
Maria Gill's accessible text is accompanied by stunning illustrations by Emma Huia Lovegrove, and includes interesting facts and information about wildlife hospitals and sanctuaries.
Animal lovers, young and old, will adore all 28 stories which are inspired by the true heartwarming (and at times hilarious) antics of animals who live Downunder.
This came at the perfect time - just in time with lockdown and my daughter has been learning about animals at school so this was great. The stories are nice and quick, usually two pages long - so we read one a night - sometimes two or three depending on how we were feeling. The stories are accompanied by a real picture and also a graphic picture which is nice to break it up both ways. The other great thing is all of the animal stories are based on real creatures and actually happened which was a nice talking point afterwards.
Although the stories give the backstory of the events I found the stories at times very rushed and could be harsh. Like with the Little Blues, the surfing Penguins - it comments on the chicks whose parents have not returned from hunting food and the babies beg and accost each penguin as they pass them. They are hungry and are convinced someone will give in to their pleas - most don't. I am not sure why they felt like that needed to be added to the story or what the point was. Luckily we just read over it and my daughter did not ask any questions regarding this. I know its real life but I didn't really see any benefit from adding this and it was just randomly placed - like it didn't add to the story at all.
I did love reading about Lulu, The cuddly Kangaroo especially when they tried to leave her in the wild and she chased the car. So they pulled over and made camp for the night and Lulu slept in the car as she was scared they would leave with out her. It was also nice to read about Moko a very playful Dolphin. I remember mum telling me about Moko. I was living in Napier and she wanted to come over for the weekend and drive up to Mahia Beach. There were some lovely stories.
We both enjoyed all 28 stories and they were packed with some very interesting information. I think it is a very cute book and will help both girls in years to come with various assignments/school work. This is great for young and old children as offers a lot of detail and makes for some very entertaining stories afterwards. It was also nice to read the Role of Wildlife Centres, Sanctuaries and Zoos as we do like to visit centres like this when we travel so was nice to put it all into prospective.
It is difficult, when assessing this book, to decide whether or not it is age appropriate - because this is a book that will appeal to diverse audiences from the very young right through to adults. My daughter could not wait to get her hands on it because she is a primary school teacher, so much of the material resonated with her. As for Miss Nine, she loves animals and was impressed to see that each creature is presented with a real photo together with artistic impressions from illustrator Emma Huia Lovegrove - impressions that faithfully replicate the pose and features in the photos.
The anecdotes about the 28 featured animals range from sad to charming to downright hilarious. Miss Nine's favourite were Gus, the Dog-Cat; Barney and Pebbles, the Caring Wombats; and Chrystall, the little yellow-eyed penguin. Gus because she adores cats; the wombats because she has recently read several books on Australian fauna and is seriously into wombats and quokkas; and Chrystall because she saw a movie about penguins last weekend and thought they were some of the funniest creatures she had ever encountered. My daughter could not decide which story she preferred, but she felt sorry for Nigel No-Mates so thought his story was the one that resonated with her most.
I don't have a favourite. Each story is different, but underpinning the entertaining narrative is a solid background of factual information. Miss Nine learned a great deal from reading this book, but even as an older reader I found that there were things I had not known previously and was fascinated to explore. The research that goes into a book like this is immense, and for those who wish to know more about a particular creature there is an excellent article on wildlife centres, sanctuaries, and zoos at the end of the book; this is followed by list of URLS for various wildlife centres, and a bibliography for those who are interested in further exploring this topic.
This book can be enjoyed on two levels. It can be read purely for entertainment, starting at the beginning and working through the different articles. Because each two-page article is complete in itself, it is easy to put the book down at any stage and pick it up again when you are ready. That makes it ideal for reading in a situation where there are constant interruptions - you don't lose the flow if you have to stop suddenly. The other level is that of a reference book. Children doing school projects on one animal - or even a selection - can use the articles as a starting point to deeper investigation. Either way, this is a book that will appeal to a wide audience in both New Zealand and Australia. And not just the children!
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