Reviewed by Patricia Simms-Reeve
This book of backyard buddies, delightfully depicted in just twenty pages, could soon be regarded as an historic document, as grandparents are known to bemoan the changes that have occurred in their lifetimes when their yards were once visited by a great variety of creatures, including grasshoppers, beetles, butterflies and lizards. Now, sadly, they have almost disappeared.
Both written and illustrated by Andy Geppert, and designed for the very young, this book focuses on some of the once common creatures in a garden.
Their basic features are amusingly told …we are informed the termites’ favourite food consists of ‘leafy vegetables, fallen tree branches, and your house!’ He tells us ‘not all ladybugs are ladies – feel free to call one Keith!’
The author suggests a cautionary approach to spiders but all the others shown are friendly, including the blue tongue lizard. Carefully selected sentences and attractive drawings facing them, give a child interesting and basic facts in a lighthearted way. Charming philosophy is introduced too. The slow-moving snail believes it’s all about the journey, not the destination. No snail would wonder, ‘are we there yet?’ Ants are very small but very strong. Apparently, they maintain that ‘teamwork makes the dream work!’
Children are usually attracted to small animals so this book should be a surefire hit. The information is not excessive and perhaps will encourage an interest and affection for these tiny creatures who share our world. Except, of course, the pet rock! For those who don’t have a garden to explore there is always the pet rock. This can be found all over the world; even on the desks of offices in tall buildings! It deserves respect, like the other pets; no skimming over water or throwing.
Many of the buddies described so entertainingly, bees, ants and spiders, are an invaluable part of the ecosystem, so happy is the child to find such neighbours in their backyards. Today, the rarity of finding such little beasts can have the added joy of the hunt!
This book is a wonderful step to a child’s beginning to appreciate the variety of living things and their sadly reduced number. Each one is to be prized….
Backyard Buddies could be a springboard to introduce an elementary science programme with a conservation theme, emphasising how vital are these small friends, especially bees.
Simple, with its lighthearted fun, Backyard Buddies is a fresh approach to a subject that, more than ever, is important to our very survival and that of our Backyard Buddies.
by Andy Geppert
Lothian Children’s Books
ISBN 978 73442 147 0