AMAZING ANIMALS OF AUSTRALIA’S NATIONAL PARKS
by Gina Newton – NLA Publishing, 2016
ages 2 years to adult / Australia, s.t.e.m.
We drove through Barrington Tops National Park last week and I saw about a dozen wombat holes. It was a first for me - I've never seen an actual wombat in the wild - so spotting the holes was exciting!
I’m pretty well versed in wombat folklore and quite a few anthropomorhised wombats star in our picture book posts, but I wanted a bit more factual info to share with Savannah and Ivy when I tell them about my trip.
So I grabbed Gina Newton’s new book, checked the index for wombats and discovered some interesting new facts:
A wombat’s rump can crush predators against burrow walls!
Wombats often leave cubic poo at the entrance to their burrows to mark their territory.
Wombats have a backward facing pouch so it doesn’t fill with dirt when digging – which makes sense now that I think about it, but I’d never given it a thought before!
Amazing Animals of Australia’s National Parks is that kind of book – the sort you pick up when you're looking for a quick grasp at information. It’s also the sort of book that, if left lying in a strategic place, could result in hours of happy reading. It’s really well laid out to capture the interest and attention of even fairly reluctant readers.
I’d suggest a quick glance through the 'How To Use This Book' page – once you have a basic idea you’ll know what to look for and then it’s easy to grab interesting facts.
Each animal has a page to itself with info on habitat, conservation status, size and weight etc. And there are well over a hundred animals to discover – mammals, reptiles, birds and more.
This is great non-fiction because:
Each animal and each page stands alone which means that the book can be opened at any page and read for enjoyment and information. (That can be a lot less daunting for an emerging reader – there’s no slog to the finish line.)
The post-it-note style 'Fast Facts' are great for comparison and for easy reference.
There’s heaps of information – and for most people there will be plenty of new information mixed with facts already known.
It’s great for getting a sense of Australia’s geography – there’s a map highlighting habitat for each animal and a larger map showing climate zones on the front and end pages.
The animals are divided by habitat rather than geographic location or by species. It’s a fresh way to look at animals and diversity and it works really well from a reader’s perspective.
Although Amazing Animals is written at the reading level of an 8 to 12 year old, much younger children will enjoy it (with just a little support) and so will much older people as they find new animals facts. It will be a terrific addition to a school library – but it will hopefully find its way into many home libraries too. It’s just right for picking up and reading across generations.