Wild Australian Life
A & U Children’s, 2022
64pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99
Over the years there have been many books published about Australia’s wildlife so for yet another one to stand out means there has to be a significant point of difference – and this one has it. Rather than glossy photos and repeated facts, Wild Australian Life investigates how the creatures with which we share this continent have evolved and adapted so they can survive and thrive in the particular habitats in which they are found.
Beginning with the classification of the Animal Kingdom, not an unusual start, it demonstrates how the red kangaroo fits into the descending groups until it is recognised as a species of its own. Its shows how the diminishing characteristics of kingdom>phylum>class>order>family>genus> species is a logical sequence and that allows the reader to trace any creature through such a taxonomy and understand just how and why they fit where they do. Then depending on where the reader’s interest lies, they can choose which of the traces and tracks they want to investigate to learn more about what they might not be able to see without the secret “key.” For example, if feathers take their fancy they can turn to the specified page and learn about birds generally, and then, more specifically, how their feathers, beaks and feet allow them to manage their lives in their particular environment. The shape of the beak of a bird offers a lot of information about the lifestyle and diet of the bird if you know what you’re looking at.
For independent readers who want to know more about the why and how, rather than just the what, this is a fascinating dip-and-delve book that puts the power of discovery into their hands as they choose their interest – or just follow it through as they choose.