Here you will find a diverse selection of animal books including: fascinating information books, poetry collections, stories with animals as the stars and a selection of titles relating to endangered species.
‘Fauna: Australia’s Most Curious Creatures’ by Tania McCartney is a brilliant nonfiction picture book which is visually driven and is chock full of interesting facts and information about well-known, as well as more unusual Australian animals (including Australia’s dinosaurs). This book features stylised illustrations and text which has been laid out in manageable ‘bite size’ sections for children to easily digest. There is so much information presented for each animal, some of which relates to the conservation status of each animal as well images reflecting the actual size of certain animal features or characteristics, for example the actual size of an animal at birth, or actual hatching or teeth size. The way the book has been laid out ensures that the information is not overwhelming and will captivate young readers as they are informed and entertained by this book.
‘The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals’ written and illustrated by Sami Bayly is a celebration of sixty dangerous animals. Sami Bayly explores the ways in which these animals are important to the environment and explains the purpose behind each dangerous adaptation. Each animal (presented in alphabetical order) contains information relating to their description, dangerous factor, conservation status, diet, location/habitat as well as additional fun facts. The illustrations are striking and the detail included is mesmerising. This book is highly engaging and informative. It makes a perfect companion to Sami Bayly’s first book, ‘The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals’
‘World’s Wackiest Animals’ by Lonely Planet Kids is an entertaining and informative book that contains 100 of the world’s wackiest animals, grouped by continent and featured over a two page spread. At the back of the book there is a section where you can meet the world’s wackiest ocean animals. The information is presented in bite size pieces and accompanied by detailed photos. The animals appear in the book in alphabetical order and have a symbol showing which animals are endangered or critically endangered.
The Faunaverse series which includes: ‘Faunaverse: Australian Wildlife in Poetry’ and ‘Faunaverse: Wildlife in poetry, Tasmania’ (this is also available as an audiobook version) by Alexander and Jane Dudley are ecopoetry books. These poems share information about the adaptations, habitat, diet, unique characteristics as well as other interesting details about each animal featured. There are some less well-known animals included too and their importance in the ecosystem is explored in the poems. Each poem is accompanied by a photograph. These poems are designed to be fun and aim to educate children in an engaging and accessible way.
‘Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright: An Animal Poem for Every Day of the Year’ by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup contains 366 richly illustrated poems from classics to contemporary pieces. There are poems from William Blake, Christina Rosetti, Lewis Caroll, Emily Dickinson, Spike Milligan, Michael Rosen, Jack Prelutsky, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy to name some of the many poets included in this sumptuous anthology. There are bite size poems to enjoy and others to sit with, savour and contemplate. There’s something for everyone here – poems to make you laugh, think, ones that beg to be said out loud, one’s you will want to share and others you will revisit over and over. This glorious book would make a special gift that would be treasured for years.
‘Tippy and Jellybean – The True Story of a brave Koala who Saved her Baby from a Bushfire’ by Sophie Cunningham and illustrated by Anil Tortop is a picture book based on a heart-warming true story that came from the bushfires that devastated East Gippsland. Tippy and her joey Jellybean were rescued together after surviving days in their destroyed habitat. It is believed that Tippy curled herself around Jellybean to protect her baby as Jellybean didn’t sustain any physical injuries. Tippy however was found to have suffered second degree burns to her hind legs, smoke inhalation and dehydration. This story follows their rescue and recuperation and how they were looked after by a team of devoted veterinarians so they were able to be returned to a home in the bush. $1 from every copy sold will be donated to the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund to help with emergency veterinary assistance and scientific intervention.
‘Jet The Rescue Dog and Other Extraordinary Stories of Animals in Wartime’ by David Long and illustrated by Peter Bailey. Each chapter in this book explores a true, moving story about the different ways animals have assisted humans during wartime. Because each chapter is a new story, you can dip into this book and read the chapters in any order. Each story highlights the atrocities of war and introduces the reader to a cast of animals such as dogs who use their sense of smell to locate survivors after a bombing; donkeys used to transport injured soldiers and an injured pigeon who flew over an hour to deliver a message that led to the rescue of soldiers. These are only some of the stories. Some animals do not survive, their story is told sensitively. All of these animals are heroes and have saved lives because of their courage, strength and loyalty.
‘The Dog with Seven Names’ by Dianne Wolfer was a memorable read aloud that has stayed with us long after we turned the last page. This story is set in Australia during World War 2 and the events are shared in first person from the perspective of a dog, the runt of a litter that was born on a remote cattle station and gifted to Elise, the station master’s daughter. Elsie names the dog Princes and the two become inseparable until war comes. Princess and Elsie are separated as the family leave their property because the Japanese air raids are coming closer. Princess is cared for by the stockman. A tragic event sees Princess (now called Dog) looked after by the Flying Doctors. It is with the Flying Doctors that this dog experiences many adventures around the Pilbara region and gains new names (Flynn, Gengi, Florence, pooch and Engel). The dog flies with the Flying Doctors and stays in Port Hedland Hospital. This is a story about World War 2 in Australia and is fascinating to read what Australia’s policy and life was like during this time – there is reference to the discriminatory White Australia policy.
‘The Wolves of Greycoat Hall’ written and illustrated by Lucinda Gifford is a creative and refreshing story which kept us smiling because of the wolves antics as well as captivated due to the descriptive writing and fabulously detailed, lively illustrations found throughout the book. This story explores the experiences of Boris and his parents Leonora and Randall Greycoat, respectable wolves, who visit Scotland after learning that wolves are to be reintroduced there. As a long journey to Scotland from Greycoat Hall in Morovia (where wolves and people happily coexist) is anticipated, Boris packs The History of the Scottish Greycoats’ to learn more about his Scottish ancestors (what a story they have — plagued with jealousy, accidents, treacherous acts and betrayal). While exploring Scotland, the Greycoat wolves immerse themselves in Scottish culture, enjoy ALL the Scottish foods, make friends with the locals and explore the sights. Given they are the very first wolves to take advantage of Scotland allowing wolves to return, there are some people who are not as welcoming as others and not supportive of their visit. On their travels, the Greycoat’s learn that Drommuir Castle is for sale. The wolves find out that Mr Vorslad, a wealthy and ruthless businessman offered an extraordinary amount of money to buy the castle and he plans to preserve only a small part of the castle and build a luxury resort all around it. Mr Vorslad plans to cut down trees which are home to many bird and animal species as well as hunt in the forests and river. Nothing can stop Mr Vorslad, or so it seems. Sometimes a deep understanding of one’s ancestry and local history can right some wrongs, but will this be enough to save the castle? The themes include: conservation, greed, being true to yourself, the power of community, discrimination, acceptance, celebrating difference, not judging others by their appearance.
‘Skunk and Badger’ by Amy Timberlake with illustrations by Jon Klassen is a charming and playful tale about two unlikely characters. Badger very much likes routine, is almost a recluse and is quite regimented (Badger’s grocery shopping consists of purchasing the same fourteen items each week from the same three aisles). Badger lives in North Twist in a brownstone home that belongs to Aunt Lula, a pine martin. Badger’s days are consumed by important rock work in the rock room. It comes to Aunt Lula’s attention that Skunk also requires a home so she extends an invitation to Skunk to join Badger in her brownstone home. Badger never welcomes guests, therefore Badger is surprised to realise Skunk is to be a new roommate (had Badger read Aunt Lulu’s letters this would not have been a surprise). Skunk is outgoing, adventurous and enjoys companionship, cooking as well as philosophical discussions. The arrival of Skunk is disruptive to Badger and causes Badger all sorts of headaches, although the pair do enjoy some memorable times together. Skunk is also responsible for inviting more guests, chickens (lots of chickens) to the brownstone home. Can Badger and Skunk live together peacefully and can Badger keep his frustrations in check? This story contains delightful illustrations which add another layer of depth to the narrative. There is a combination of ink and pen illustrations as well as illustrations that have been created using an earthy tone colour palette which evoke a sense of warmth. Badger and Skunk demonstrate the power of compassion, as well as the importance of listening to another’s perspective, critical reflection and transformation. They also highlight the beauty and happiness that can be relished in the unlikeliest of friendships. This is a story full of heart and humour.
‘The One and Only Ivan’ by Katherine Applegate is about friendship, hope, courage and seeing possibilities. Ivan is a silverback gorilla who lives at the Big Top Mall and Video arcade with several other animals who are all dear friends. They spend their days in captivity, performing for the shoppers. Ivan communicates through his art and uses his art to make a difference for the captive animals. Ivan is the narrator – we found Ivan’s observations about the humans that pass by fascinating and insightful. This book made us laugh with its heart warming and tender moments as well as cry during the heart breaking times.
‘Bob No Ordinary Cat’ by James Bowen is the true powerful, heart-warming story about the unlikely friendship and strong bond that develops between James, a failed musician, living in sheltered accommodation and busking in Covent Garden to earn a meagre living and Bob a mangy stray ginger tomcat. Before Bob was part of James’ life he felt invisible, but when he started taking care of Bob and taking him busking he began to be noticed and people interacted with him. Ultimately Bob was the impetus James needed to turn his life around. In this story James shares what life was like on the streets, gaining employment as a seller of The Big Issue Newspaper and his experience with addiction and coming off drugs. This story is also interspersed with many interesting facts about cats. It’s a story about the power of caring for an animal, the strong bonds that develop and how an animal can heal your life.
‘There’s a Rang-Tan in My Bedroom’ by James Sellick and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon (published in collaboration with Greenpeace) is a story about the destruction of rainforests to plant trees for palm oil production and the impact this is having on the orangutans. This book contains a foreword by Emma Thompson where she briefly discusses the destruction of the rainforest in Indonesia, the planting of palm trees and she calls for action to be proactive about causing change. This story is told in rhyme and begins with a young girl surprised to discover an orangutan in her bedroom. This orangutan is objecting to the chocolate, shampoo and cookies in the house. The girl is curious as to why the orangutan is there and wants to hear the orangutan’s story. The orangutan tells the girl that there are humans in the forest, destroying the trees for cosmetic and food products. The story continues with the impacts this has on the orangutan and its family. After hearing this information the young girl vows to save the orangutans home. She sets about sharing the orangutan’s story and inspiring others to join the cause to become activists for change. After the story there is further information and facts about orangutans, palm oil production (including palm oil grown responsibly) and ways that readers can help, including practical suggestions and useful information to assist children write a campaign letter. This is an excellent book to inspire further conversations and research into the plight of the orangutan as well as irresponsible palm oil production.
‘Hold On! Saving The Spotted Handfish’ by Gina Newton and Rachel Tribout is an engaging and fascinating picture book published by the CSIRO. This story is narrated by Handstand, a handfish and explores marine habitats, the life cycle of the handfish as well as the environmental threats to this fish and conservation. Many unique features are revealed about this fish that is millions of years old, some of these unique features make life for the handfish problematic and can increase the threats they face, compromising their chances of survival. The handfish is the first marine fish in the world to be listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. This book explores the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and goes on to explore the role Scientists and technology has played in helping the Spotted Handfish. A fact file section and glossary are also included in this book. The words and illustrations work beautifully together to convey a powerful message about the ways in which human activities threaten this fish. This story will no doubt be a call to action to inspire young readers to adopt sustainable practices and environmental responsibility.
‘A New Prayer for the Animals’ written and illustrated by Mark Wilson is a heartfelt celebration to Mark Wilson’s commitment to endangered species and the preservation of their habitats. This book contains information about endangered animals that are on the brink of extinction. Each spread shares the message about the dependence each animal has on its habitat for food and survival and that a healthy environment is vital. This book is a call for action to help these animals survive.
‘The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse’ by cartoonist Charlie Mackesy is a beautiful heart warming book filled with wisdom and life lessons. In this book a lonely boy meets a mole, fox and a wise horse, they share their hearts and hopes in small heartfelt discussions and respond to life’s big questions. A perfect hope filled book to dip in and out of and appreciate the words and drawings about courage in the face of adversity and the power of love and friendship.