Do Penguins’ Feet Freeze?
The Natural History Museum
CSIRO Publishing, 2023
96pp., pbk., RRP $A27.99
Remember this scene from the wonderful movie, Happy Feet? The story of a little penguin named Mumble who has a terrible singing voice but has an astute talent for tap dancing? Well, you have to wonder whether he danced for the love of movement or just to keep his feet warm on the icy landscape of Antarctica.
The answer can be found in this new release from CSIRO Publishing in which heaps of the sorts of questions about Mother Nature that kids like to ask are answered in their language with straightforward explanations and stunning photographs. Questions like
- Why do rabbits eat their own poo?
- How do polar bears stay warm?
- Can dolphins talk to each other?
- Why does rain smell?
- How clever is an octopus?
- Which animal has spines in its throat?
- Why do goats scream and faint?
- Will an asteroid hit Earth?
- Why are flamingos pink?
- Do birds sneeze?
- Why do honeybees dance?
Later this month, there will be news clips and so forth about the blue moon on August 31, and given the rarity of these there will be questions. But imagine if our students could tell their families before the newsreader does, just by reading p65 in this book. Similarly, if they want to know how petrichor – that delightful, dusky smell of rain first hitting dry ground – is created, then the answer is on p 42.
These sorts of Q&A books have always been enormously popular with young readers keen to explore the world beyond their backyard, particularly with the focus on the environment these days, and with modern presentations which include detailed photographs, they are again reaching a peak in popularity. This one is no exception. There wasn’t a page that didn’t teach me something, and while that’s not hard, young readers will delight in ramping up the dinner table conversation as they share their new-found knowledge. Why rabbits eat their own poo might not be the best topic, but imagine being able to explain Mumbles’ dancing before a family movie night. And then perhaps posing their own question and researching their answers to create a whole new book for the library collection.
Entertaining, educational and engaging – what more could you want?