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2012 WINNER WHITLEY AWARD FOR YOUNG NATURALIST
2013 CBCA NOTABLE BOOK, EVE POWNALL AWARD
2012 WINNER OF THE WA PREMIER'S BOOK AWARDS
This book is written by Peter Macinnis, the recipient of the Eve Pownall award in the 2010 Children's Book Council of Australia Awards for the sister publication, 'Australian Backyard Explorer'. In 'Australian Backyard Naturalist', Peter enthusiastically explores the animals that inhabit the places in which we live, from the furry to the slimy, the large to the tiny. He keeps readers entertained with stories about his own adventures with Australia's creepy crawlies and other creatures, as well as collectors' and naturalists' stories from the times of first European settlement to recent times.
A perfect gift for children or a stimulating resource for the classroom, 'Australian Backyard Naturalist' is a visually exciting book that contains lots to interest readers.
Each chapter contains:
* an introduction to the biology and ecology of a group of animals
* a naturalist's story e.g. the trouble that Ludwig Leichhardt's expedition party had in 1845 with kites stealing their supplies; the life in Australia of German collector Amalie Dietrich, who 'lived rough' in the bush, collecting, preparing and preserving specimens in the 1860s; George Bornemissza's quest, in the 1950s and 1960s, to find suitable and safe dung beetles to introduce into Australia
* amazing facts e.g. did you know that daddy long-leg spiders hunt and eat redbacks?; did you know that there was a frog (now extinct) which swallowed its eggs which then developed into frogs in the digestive system, the young frogs finally being expelled though the mother's mouth?; did you know that the maggots of flies are used to clean up people's wounds?
* a detailed look at a particular topic, e.g. how cuckoos trick its host birds into bringing up their young; how snake antivenom is produced; how the compound eyes of the fly evolved
* fun and practical projects to do in the backyard, e.g. making nest boxes for possums or birds; making a frog pond; catching and keeping spiders; breeding flies
* wonderful images from the Library's collections
The creatures in 'Australian Backyard Naturalist' are organised into groups. Chapters include:
* Reptiles and Amphibians
* Butterflies and Moths
* Flies and Mosquitoes
* Ants and Ant lions
* Other Stingers, Biters and Nasties
* Leaf Litter Animals
* Snails and Their Slug Relatives
* Earthworms and Leeches
* Other Insects You May Meet
* Making Your Own Equipment
Peter Macinnis is a Sydney-based science writer. As well as receiving the Eve Pownall award for 'Australian Backyard Explorer' in 2010, his 2006 book, 'Kokoda Track: 101 Days', was short-listed for the NSW Premier's History Awards in 2007 and was an Eve Pownall Honour Book in the 2008 Children's Book Council of Australia Awards. Other recent books include 'Australia's Pioneers, Heroes and Fools' (2007), 'Mr Darwin's Incredible Shrinking World' (2008) and 'The Speed of Nearly Everything' (2008).
While it is jam-packed with trivia and educational facts–including an introduction to the biology and ecology of a group of animals–there are also projects on catching or finding unsuspecting critters ... Published by the National Library of Australia, there are captivating images, including sketches from early explorers.
Did you know that the Giant Gippsland earth worm grows to a metre in length? Or that daddy long-leg spiders hunt and eat redbacks?
Australian Backyard Naturalist is a fantastic collection of facts, photos, illustrations and projects, as well as notes from the authors own experiences.
There are fun projects to complete in your own backyard, e.g. making nest boxes for possums, making pit and fly traps, creating a frog pond, catching and keeping spiders and slugs, or creating a worm farm.
The topics covered include mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, spiders, butterflies, flies, mosquitos, ants, stingers, snails, slugs, earthworms and leeches.
The graphic design is varied and interesting with no large chunks of text to discourage reluctant readers. Photos of deceased animals and close ups of fly eyes and maggots, as well as the array of fun facts will keep children turning the pages. The projects are user friendly and include checklists and easy to follow instructions using mostly every day materials.
At 222 pages it is a substantial resource for a classroom or library. It would make a lovely gift, especially for boys. My own sons were quick to grab this from the pile of review books and anything that encourages them to get away from the computer screen and discover nature is a hit with me!