The Echidna Near My Place
32pp., hbk., RRP $A26.99
Whenever Nana and Child walk through the scrubby paddock at the end of their street, they look for the echidna – that curious, spiky creatures that waddles like its feet are on backwards. They see if often, almost as if it knows them, and, as they watch it carefully, they learn about its habitat and habits.
This is the latest addition to the Nature Storybooks series, one of my favourites for young readers as it combines a narrative story with a factual account so they learn so much more about the fascinating creatures that inhabit their world, particularly Australia.
Just as Searching for Cicadas celebrated the relationship between grandfather and grandchild, this one also focuses on the special bond, this time with grandma as they walk through the paddock almost daily and each time they see the echidna they learn something new. For although the short-beaked echidna (the only species found here, the other three are in Papua New Guinea) is common in many parts of Australia – we often see them waddling along our road or through our bush block here in the Snowy Mountains – nevertheless, they are shy and well-camouflaged so not so easy to find if you’re not looking. But for all that they might be common, they are also just one of two monotremes – egg-laying mammals – found on the planet, the other being the platypus. Teaching notes to learn even more are available.
So even though we make sure our old, gentle cavoodle is inside when they come, and they uproot pot plants seeking shelter because their sensitive snouts smell her anyway, we will continue to enjoy their company whenever they come to visit – just like Nana and Child.