Where are all the Christmas Beetles?
CSIRO Publishing, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Once upon a time, not so long ago, our kids looked forward to summer barbecues because it meant they were going to be bombarded by those shimmering green and gold beetles with the sharp little feet that clung to skin and clothes. And rather than being afraid or squealing in surprise, they knew they were Santa’s special messengers and if they whispered what they wanted for Christmas, the beetle would take the request straight back to Santa.
But now those kids want to share that Christmas ritual with their kids and there are fewer and fewer beetles to be seen! There are no tell-tale dead patches in the grass where the grubs have eaten the roots, they aren’t high in the gum trees either and they’re not even buzzing around the street lamps like they used to do. Where have they all gone?
In this beautifully illustrated book that brought back so many memories of Christmases past, the author/illustrator speculates on what might have happened to them. Could it be the changing weather? The drought? The floods? The loss of habitat? Scientists don’t know for sure yet and have initiated the Christmas Beetle Count for sightings and photos to be shared but before students get involved in that there are really useful notes at the back of the book as well as teachers’ notes that can help them become junior scientists and help solve the mystery.
After all, what’s Christmas in Australia without Christmas beetles and how will Santa ever know just what to leave underneath the tree?