Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use

Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use

Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use












Orangutan Hats and Other Tools Animals Use

Richard Haynes

Stephanie Laberis

Candlewick Press, 2021

48pp., hbk., RRP $A29.99


Move over, humans! We’re not the only creatures who can invent and use tools to keep ourselves fed, warm, safe, healthy, comfortable—even entertained. Thanks to the careful observations of biologists working in the field, we now know that elephants use sunscreen, long-tailed macaques floss their teeth, assassin bugs use bait to lure their prey, orangutans make pillows, and crows will go sledding just for fun.

Defining a tool as “any functional object, fashioned or found, that is not part of the user”, the reader is taken on a fascinating tour around the world examining creatures that use tools including the boxer crab and bottlenose dolphin of our region to the African elephant and even the bald eagle. For thousands of years, humans believed that only they were intelligent enough to invent and use tools but since the 1960s, particularly, scientists specialising in observing animal behaviour have proven this to be a fallacy as they the many ways that the animal kingdom uses and adapts common objects to meet their needs in their quest for survival.

Those uses include health and healing, defence, hunting, harvesting and eating, and comfort and joy and the book has been divided into these sections, with examples of each. So while the elephant uses straw, grass, mud, and sometimes vomit to protect itself from the burning rays of the sun, the orangutan uses large tropical leaves like umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain.

With large and small realistic illustrations, some with a touch of whimsy, to support the readily accessible text, this is one for independent readers fascinated by our natural world and who want to know more about a topic they may not have even thought about.  To support their reading there is a map, glossary, bibliography, and index so as well as the content, they can also learn how to navigate a print non fiction text. 

A peek inside...

A peek inside…

Book of Curious Birds

Book of Curious Birds

Book of Curious Birds











Book of Curious Birds

Jennifer Cossins

Lothian, 2021

60pp., hbk. RRP $A26.99


One of the great delights of living in the bush is watching the cavalcade of birds that visit and sometimes make their home amongst the snow gums, the native pines and the wattles that dominate this landscape.  Some are seasonal workers, some are permanent residents, but none is as weird as those that make the pages of this new book by Jennifer Cossins, creator of The Ultimate Animal Alphabet Book and The Ultimate Animal Counting Book. 

With names often  as weird as their characteristics (such as  tawny frogmouth, ocellated turkey, twelve-wired bird-of-paradise and Guianan cock-of-the-rock) readers are introduced to birds that have startling colours; strange physical features, and curious habits that make them stand out amongst others of their species. There are those like the wandering albatross that can glide for 900km in a day with little effort and those like the North Island brown kiwi confined to land for life and that are closer to mammals than birds.  There are the Vulturine Guinea Fowl with their complex social structure indicating high intelligence and the blue-footed booby, known as “the clown of the Galapagos”. There are the Secretary Birds that are amazing snake killers and the Tufted Puffin renowned for catching fish 25 metres below the surface!

Whatever the reason, each has made its way into this fascinating book that had me turning the pages for ages and I am not known for being an ornithologist or even a twitcher.  With each having a double page spread , an introduction in easily accessible text and accompanied by Cossins unique illustrative style, this is an essential addition to the collection to add to the current interest in the planets strange and peculiar inhabitants, to offer those who prefer non fiction to fiction and for small groups to share together, an intrinsic part of reading development in young boys, particularly. 

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature











The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

Sami Bayly

Lothian Children’s, 2021

128pp., hbk., RRP $A32.99


Natural history illustrator Sami Bayly, the mastermind behind two of the most intriguing non fiction titles that have got young boys, particularly, reading recently – The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Dangerous Animals and The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ugly  Animals has produced another outstanding offering that will have readers as intrigued as its predecessors did and the phenomenon of young lads grouped together poring over the pages during lunchtimes in the library will return.

Bayly has collected stories of 60 peculiar pairs – plant and animal species that rely on each other for their survival – and over half of them call Australia home.  Whether parasitic or symbiotic; teeny -tiny like the Heath’s Tick and the Mountain Pygmy Possum or large like the Ocean Sunfish and the Laysan Albatross; land-bound like the Stinking Corpse Lily and the Liana Vine or water-dwelling like the Spotted Handfish and Sea Squirt; plant-plant, animal-animal or plant-animal Bayly has brought together a fascinating group of creatures whose relationships need to explored. 

The book has a built-in ribbon bookmark and serendipitously mine fell open on the entry about the Canberra Grassland Earless Dragon and the Garden Wolf Spider. One of the reasons we bought a home where we did in Canberra was its proximity to the proposed Gungahlin shopping centre, making access to facilities more convenient as we aged.  But then the site was discovered to be the only habitat of the Earless Dragon in Australia and so the whole precinct was moved to preserve its home.  Like all the other entries in the book, its relationship with the spider is explained as well as other facts and figures that just make for a fascinating read in language that is accessible to all. We learn new terms like mutualism and commensalism )which describe the type of relationship) -the sorts of words youngsters like to offer at the dinner table to baffle their elders – as well as critical information such as the environmental status. As usual, the illustrations are very realistic , each pair having a full colour double-page spread. 

While my review copy will be going to the same little lad as I gave the others to because they have been the springboard to his becoming an independent reader within months of beginning, he will have to wait until I’ve finished reading about pairs that I didn’t even know existed let alone that I wanted to know more about them!

Look for this one in the shortlists and winners’ circles.