The Ultimate Book of Reptiles

The Ultimate Book of Reptiles

The Ultimate Book of Reptiles











The Ultimate Book of Reptiles

Ruchira Somaweera

Stephanie Warren Drimmer

National Geographic Kids, 2023

192pp., hbk., RRP $A34.99


Snakes, tortoises, chameleons, crocodiles, lizards, even dinosaurs – reptiles are found all over this planet and have been for about 300 million years when insects (including centipedes as large as alligators) ruled and a new predator Hylonomous evolved to eat them.  .

And regardless of how scary they might look, how creepy they might feel and how dangerous to humans they might be, there is a certain section of the population that is fascinated by them.  Thus this book with its full colour photographs, accessible text and attractive layout is going to appeal to them as well as any others who have an interest in finding out more.

Arranged in sections such as deadly hunters, amazing adaptations and super creatures (featuring the extremes of each type) their stories are told by a leading herpetologist and includes suggestions on ways we can help these creatures survive the threats of habitat destruction, climate change, being a food source and even being smuggled to be someone’s exotic pet..  Even though we might not become one of the conservation heroes featured, nevertheless the school playground and the backyard garden can become a haven for lizards and other little creatures. Skinks, geckos and blue tongue lizards (if not the unique tuatara of New Zealand) will thank you. 

Miss Then11 being given a rare opportunity to be up close and personal with a tuatara, the only living member of the first dinosaurs, at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, New Zealand.

Miss Then11 being given a rare opportunity to be up close and personal with a tuatara, the only living member of the first dinosaurs, at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, New Zealand.


Snakes Awake

Snakes Awake

Snakes Awake











Snakes Awake

Jarrod Paine

Shannon Boland

Ford Street, 2022 

32pp., pbk., RRP $A16.95


Pip and her mum love to explore the bush, particularly in summer when so many creatures have woken from their winter slumbers and are out and about.  Pip’s favourite creatures are snakes, especially the red-belly black snake, but there are lots of things to know and do so she and her mum stay safe while they are exploring.

Written for younger readers so they too can heed Pip’s advice, this is a timely book to share as the weather warms up and families and animals are more active. As well as the story, it includes easy-to-read charts for both staying safe and first aid should there be the need.  Above all, it shows that while we must take care in the bush, just as we do at the beach, there is much to see and admire if we are prepared to wear our “special nature goggles”. 


Curious About Crocodiles

Curious About Crocodiles

Curious About Crocodiles











Curious About Crocodiles

Owen Davey

Flying Eye, 2021

40pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


“The term ‘crocodile’ or ‘crocodilian’ is used to describe the roughly 26 species of the order Crocodilia. This order includes species known as ‘true crocodiles’ as well as alligators, gharials and caimans.” And to demonstrate the difference the first page of this fascinating book shows profiles of the differing heads of each species so before a page is turned something new has been learned.

Did you know that crocodiles can live to be over 100 years old, and can climb trees to sunbathe? They can even sense the vibrations from a single drop of water falling from the mouth of a drinking wildebeest over twenty metres away.

This is the seventh book in Owen Davey’s fascinating series which includes Bonkers About Beetles and Crazy About Cats  as well as Fanatical About FrogsMad About Monkeys , Obsessive About Octopuses, and  Smart About Sharks.   

While crocodiles traditionally evoke some degree of fear, the likes of Steve Irwin and Matt Wright, and perhaps even the early Crocodile Dundee, have taken them out of the swamps and the estuaries and given them a profile which means young readers are fascinated by them.  So this book with its clear explanations and multitude of diagrams is a great starting point for answering all those questions that little ones invariably have. 

After years of experience working with little ones and watching their reading habits, I know that the boys, particularly, like to borrow books about the scariest, fiercest, largest creatures – perhaps as some kind of personal armour – and so this one not only fits perfectly into that category but offers them much to investigate, learn and share in a very accessible format.  

The Last Dragon

The Last Dragon

The Last Dragon













The Last Dragon

Charles Massy

Mandy Ford

NLA Publishing, 2021

44pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99



Beneath the western mountains, on the open plains of the high Monaro where the skies are blue and big, there lived a little dragon lizard.

Timpo is the smartest, best-disguised lizard in Narrawallee, the Big Grass Country. Wolfie the spider is his good friend, but there are no other dragon lizards and he is lonely for his own kind. 

Timpo and Wolfie embark on a journey to discover if Timpo is indeed the last dragon left in the valley. Through a landscape of grassland, granite boulders, shiny snow gums, and shady creeks they search, encountering new friends but also facing grave danger. Wolfie must return home with her spiderlings, but Timpo trudges on … will he ever find another dragon lizard? 

Who could resist requesting, reading and reviewing a book that is set pretty much on my doorstep, on a farm just a little south-east of my home?  And I am so glad I did because not only did I learn about a little creature that is highly endangered, I read a touching story of determination and courage, of survival and an amazing conservation effort.  With artwork that is amazing in its detail, this is a story written by a local farmer on whose property the little creature was found, one who is highly qualified and recognised in the field of regenerative landscape management so that you know that what you’re reading is not only authoritative but inspirational – there can be co-existence between humans, domestic animals and creatures of the wild. 

More for independent readers, as well as Timpo’s story there is a double-page spread of simple facts accompanied by a photo and then Massy’s story of the history of the earless dragon lizard and how it is being protected on his farm at Severn Park, about 15km from Berridale. If your curriculum focus is Australia’s at-risk species and you are looking for something different, something with a positive story then this is a must for your collection.

And if you remember my writing about the little Kindy kid who taught me about pangolins, well now I’m going to return the favour and teach him about one that lives about 10 minutes from his front door!!! Xander, this is for you. 

The Unexpected Crocodile

The Unexpected Crocodile

The Unexpected Crocodile










The Unexpected Crocodile

Kim Kane

Sara Acton

Allen & Unwin, 2014

Pbk., 32pp., RRP $A14.99



It’s been raining for days and days and days and everything is wet and soggy.  Nowhere is not – there is even rain in the chops for the barbecue and the Dawsons are coming to dinner!!  But when Peggy answers the door, it is not the Dawsons standing there but a crocodile, smartly presented with a red bow tie and umbrella.  No one seems surprised at his presence, not even the Dawsons who arrive with a croc-embouche for dessert.  In fact, the parents are so engaged in their one-upmanship about their children’s merits that they don’t even flinch when the crocodile shows he has an appetite for things other than coleslaw.

There is something appealing about this book that is told in such a matter-of-fact manner even though the words, actions and illustrations are the very opposite of matter-of-fact. Acton’s illustrations bring those of Quentin Blake to mind and there is as much in them as in the words, a hallmark of a well-constructed picture book.  Her two images of Peggy with a book before and after the crocodile’s visit suggest that it all might have been a hopeful dream but then her mother does go an buy her some sky-blue gumboots, just like the Dawsons had…

While the guide audience is 3-5 and such young readers are unlikely to see beyond the literal layer of the story, there is scope for this to be used with older students as an introduction to farce as a genre which depends on the central characters carrying on as normal while all around them the most improbable is happening.  Kane’s clever word-play adds humour that maintains interest for the adult reader and the whole thing opens up a discussion about whether such things could really happen, whether adults can really go along with such events, much like Dahl’s The BFG

Sylvester & Arnold

Sylvester & Arnold

Sylvester & Arnold









Sylvester & Arnold

David Bedford

Tom Jellett

Little Hare, 2013

Hbk., RRP $A24.95



Sylvester was a BIG, TOUGH croc.  And so was Arnold.

Sylvester wore tough-croc shorts,

A tough-croc vest and tough –croc boots

When he went out to play

He put on an ugly tough-croc face.  So did Arnold.


Both spent all day making sure that everyone in the big, wide swamp where they lived knew who was boss.  But they had never met, until one day…

This is a delightful story of how these two crocs set out how to be fiercer than the other but then an even bigger threat arrives and suddenly they are bullies no longer. It has a twist in its tail that is charming and offers much to discuss about being friends and building friendships.

Tom Jellett’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment and offer a lot to explore about perspective.  Even though each page is the same size, how does he manage to portray the size and fierceness of Sylvester and Arnold and then dwarf this with his illustrations of Betty?

There is plenty of scope for little ones to be both the fierce, tough Sylvester and Arnold and then contrast that with the meek and mild Sylvester and Arnold as they try to sneak away under the cover of darkness. Whole-body interaction accompanied by emotions, expressions and noise!

It would also serve as a great introduction to the research process if you ask the students what they already know about crocodiles before you read it. Then, afterwards, discuss which parts might be true and which parts are made up. Share other fiction stories about crocs and then contrast these with the factual resources highlighting the difference between what is written for the imagination and what is written for information. Introduce the interpretation of text by showing how the Bedford and Jellett can let their imaginations roam because their purpose is to entertain rather than inform.  If your non-fiction resources are separate from the fiction, explain the library layout and where the crocodile resources are located.  And there are dozens of ways each could present what they have learned to create an engaging display for the library’s walls.

Who would have thought 32 pages could contain so much???

What is a Crocodile’s Favourite Thing?

What is a Crocodiles Favourite Thing?

What is a Crocodiles Favourite Thing?










What is a crocodile’s favourite thing?

Ben Hawkes

Jonathan Cape, 2013

pbk., RRP $A14.95



One of the world’s greatest unanswered questions – until now.  What IS a crocodile’s favourite thing?  Is it a racing car that looks like a sausage or maybe riding a tricycle made of jelly on the moon?  No – it’s …!

Children will have a lot of fun with this book, not only making up crazy-daisy scenarios that might be the answer but also interpreting them in art!  But beware of the twist in the tale. 

This is another one of those quirky picture books that just looks like a lot of fun on the surface, but which, in the hands of a creative teacher, can lead to a lot of literacy and language learning. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…














Christopher Cheng

Mark Jackson

Walker Books, 2012

Hbk., RRP $A29.95



“It is morning in the bush. Python stirs and sleeps out from her sheltered, nocturnal resting place…” She is looking for breakfast, but there are other important things to attend to, and in this beautifully illustrated book we learn so much about this magnificent creature in a way that immediately engages both the young reader and the adult reading to them, as well as those who can read for themselves. It truly meets the tag “suitable for all ages”.

Chris Cheng is the MASTER of a genre I’ve dubbed ‘faction’ – bringing real life to life through story. Even though the story only took place in the author’s imagination, it is so well-researched and accurately portrayed that it could have happened, and, as we read, we get both information and insight into these extraordinary creatures. Television news likes to show images of the bulging belly of pythons that have eaten quite large creatures, but who knew they got inside because the python can unhinge its jaws to swallow them, and then expand their bodies to digest them?

As well as the story, there are interesting facts on each page and absolutely spectacular, detailed illustrations from Mark Jackson. The whole becomes a fantastic package for learning about pythons that is perfect for the younger reader – and as teacher librarians, we all know the fascination snakes have for them. This book will not stay on the shelves. You’ll need two copies – one in the fiction section and one in 597.96. If you are recommending books for the Christmas stocking through your newsletters, this one HAS to be on it. Both parent and child will thank you.

If you are a parent with a youngster who is fascinated with snakes, this is a most charming book that will satisfy the need for a story and the need for information.

If you’re still not convinced, take a sneak peek where there are teachers’ notes and be sure to visit Chris Cheng’s site for more goodies, including a unit of work designed for the classroom.


Inside "Python". Mark Jackson's illustrations are superb.

Inside “Python”.Mark Jackson’s illustrations are superb.