These four captivating books showcase different Australian bird species and were initially intended for children. However, they possess a wealth of fascinating information and stunning artwork that even adults who read them aloud to their little ones will appreciate. © Copyright by GrrlScientist | hosted by Forbes
The cover art for what I like to call the “avian conservation four-pack for children” is a delightful addition to these books. While they are not officially sold as a single four-pack, I personally consider them as such due to their shared format, focus on conservation issues affecting endangered Australian birds, and their target audience of children between 5 and 9 years old. Remarkably, each book concludes with a three-page summary of the featured bird species, including distribution maps, tailored for adults. Additionally, there is a one-page glossary to help adults understand any challenging words utilized in the book. The overall text of each book is engaging, informative, and easily readable, ensuring that adults will never tire of reading them aloud.
Although the birds featured in these books are unique to Australia, the conservation problems they face are not. It was particularly intriguing to witness how these books introduce children to new ideas and solutions for conservation on a larger scale. To ensure accuracy, each book underwent fact-checking by scientists working with the specific bird species. The artwork in these books is truly breathtaking. The illustrations are adorable, bursting with vibrant colors, and rich in captivating details. I was especially impressed by the artistic representation of the birds’ songs, which added an imaginative and delightful touch.
These four books are lavishly illustrated and incredibly informative. They are so captivating that one might find themselves wishing for a few kids to read them aloud to. I have provided a brief review for each book, as well as individual notes to help you determine which one would be the best fit for your child. However, I highly recommend acquiring all four books for an enriching reading experience.
Swifty The Super-fast Parrot (jacket) (CSIRO Publishing) by Stephanie Owen Reeder, with illustrations by Astred Hicks, chronicles the first year in the life of a swift parrot named Swifty. These critically endangered parrots nest in Tasmania and face challenges from nest predation by invasive sugar gliders, as well as human logging activities. The story follows Swifty as she embarks on a perilous journey with her parents across the stormy Bass Strait to the Australian mainland, where she encounters further dangers in a human-dominated environment. After wintering on the mainland, Swifty returns to nest in the rapidly depleting Old Growth forests.
On the Trail of the Plains-wanderer: A Precious Australian Bird (CSIRO Publishing) by Rohan Cleave, with illustrations by Julian Teh, sheds light on the collaborative conservation efforts between scientists, aviculturists, and farmers to protect the critically endangered plains wanderer. These birds, also known as the “Goldilocks bird,” have specific habitat requirements and thrive in areas that strike a balance between sparsity and density. Through this book, readers learn about the plains wanderer’s diet of insects and seeds and their nesting habits in grass tussocks, which unfortunately expose them to terrestrial predators, mainly introduced foxes. This unique bird represents the sole living member of its family and possesses a rich evolutionary heritage. The artwork, including a remarkable aerial perspective of the birds (back cover), is truly captivating.
The Forgotten Song: Saving the Regent Honeyeater (CSIRO Publishing) by Coral Vass, with illustrations by Jess Racklyeft, presents a thought-provoking tale about a young male regent honeyeater. This bird forgets his mating song, an ancient melody passed down through generations. However, the regent honeyeater population has reached critically low numbers, leaving young Regent without a tutor to teach him the species-appropriate song. Instead, he attempts to imitate the songs of other birds with no success. The central question is whether Regent will learn his mating call in time or if his ancient song will be lost forever. The inclusion of a timeline detailing human-induced habitat destruction in the book’s summary adds an educational element to the story.
Swoop (CSIRO Publishing) by Nicole Godwin, with illustrations by Susannah Crispe, is the most humorous of the four books, in my opinion. It showcases the perspective of a magpie couple as they repeatedly swoop down on unsuspecting walkers, bikers, and runners who venture too close to their nest. The book not only presents the birds’ viewpoint but also amusingly captures the various creative measures taken by humans to protect their heads from magpie attacks. This book was inspired by Gary the magpie, a legendary nest protector. I particularly enjoyed the depiction of a magpie investigating a bike helmet at the end of the book, and the adorable magpie chicks are simply delightful.
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Jessica Irvine is a tech enthusiast specializing in gadgets. From smart home devices to cutting-edge electronics, Jessica explores the world of consumer tech, offering readers comprehensive reviews, hands-on experiences, and expert insights into the coolest and most innovative gadgets on the market.