Book reviews: Kids Need Nature

Kids need nature, and nature sure needs kids, to understand how nature relates to our planet and where humans are placed in our very important nature conservation role. 

These books for school aged kids, are new or recently published and, although they are aimed at kids who can read and digest the information, they can be also be easily read to a younger child.


Chris Humfrey’s Coolest Creepy Crawlies

by Chris Humfrey, New Holland Publishers, h/b RRP $24.99 Ages 5-12

Australia really does have it all,  says Australian zoologist and television person Chris Humfrey, with amazing stories of survival, ingenuity and adaptation happening right in our backyard. Get up close and personal with the stunning mimicry of the Monteith’s Leaf Insect, the dangerous liaisons of Flinders Ranges Scorpions or the teeny Garden Slater, which carries its young in a pouch like a kangaroo. Chris’s mantra is that ‘education is the key to conservation’, and he believes the younger generations hold this key.

“You don’t need to go on an overseas safari adventure to see amazing animals. There are thousands of them here in Australia if you know where to look. With just a magnifying glass and some gloves, you can safely explore your own backyard and find fascinating creatures,” says Chris.

Invertebrates don’t always receive the pop-star status of other creatures, but they have such a huge role to play in maintaining healthy balanced environments. Our ecosystem decay is dire, with many invertebrate species on the brink and under threat from habitat destruction, climate change, herbicides, pesticide use and extreme weather.

A Guide to the Creatures in Your Neighbourhood

by The Urban Field Naturalist Project, Murdoch Books p/b, RRP $32.99. Release date:August 2022

Did you know crows can identify humans by their faces? Or that ibises can ‘see’ with the tips of their bills? Let the team from the Urban Field Naturalist Project amaze you with weird and wonderful facts about cockatoos, magpies, spiders, possums and other animals just outside your doorstep. Then get inspired to cultivate a deeper connection with tips for observing, sketching, photographing and making field notes – or simply sitting still to observe and listen.


The First Book of Bush Sounds

by Fred Van Gessel, New Holland Publishers h/b RRP $24.99
Ages3+. (Other board books by this author feature wild and backyard birds)

Twelve Australian bush animals have been selected by Fred Van Gessel to engage young kids in this interactive board book. He has spent over 40 years recording animal sounds of which  just a few are represented in this board book. The more familiar Koala is the first animal detailed, with information about habitat, behaviour and life cycle. The Koala ‘growls’ and you can hear it’s growl at the push of the sound button.

This is a fascinating book that runs on a small, well concealed, replaceable battery, to produce beautiful animal sounds to match the detailed text provided as background information.

A First Book of Australian Frog Calls

by Fred Van Gessel and Gerry Swan, New Holland Publishers RRP $26.99

Australia is fortunate to be a world centre for frog biodiversity and learning the unique calls of each species will open your eyes to a whole new world that lives around us. This beautifully illustrated sound guide is the ideal way to introduce both children and adults to our wonderful frogs.

Each of the 12 species covered – Green Tree Frog, Eastern Dwarf Sedge Frog, Peron’s Tree Frog, Southern Bell Frog, Red Tree Frog, South-eastern Banjo Frog, Striped Marsh Frog, Spotted Marsh Frog, Sudell’s Frog, Ornate Burrowing Frog, Common Eastern Froglet and Cane Toad – has fascinating facts and stunning photos, plus the relevant calls at the push of a button. The book is great fun for all the family and will appeal to anyone, young or old, who enjoys the natural world and listening to the sounds of our wild creatures.

The ABC Kids Guide to Loving the Planet

by Jaclyn Crupi, illus. Cheryl Orsini, pub. HarperCollins Childrens Books (ABC Books) h/b RRP$19.99.  Ages 5+

Our planet is precious.

It’s where we live, learn, work and play.

Colourful, happy illustrations bring this reference book to life for younger children with everyday ideas on how to listen, look and learn things about our planet and ways to appreciate what’s going on around us. Each page is themed (eg ‘grow a garden’; ‘be an energy saver’) with interesting projects that can be followed at home or at school.