Author: Rohan Cleave
Illustrator: Coral Tulloch
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Comments: Regular readers will know that I love non-fiction picture books, so I was thrilled to hear CSIRO are finally branching out into publishing children’s books! Their first release is Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect. This fascinating book introduces young readers to one of Australia’s lesser known species returning from the brink of extinction.
The text is written by Melbourne Zoo Invertebrate Keeper Rohan Cleave, bringing a wealth of experience and research to the book. The text begins with a narrative story, told from the first-person perspective of one of the endangered phasmids. There is some great vocabulary in this section suitable for Stage 1 students (Year 1/2) and useful for teaching science. The narrative section is followed by a highly informative report which repeats much of the information in the story in chronological order and adds further detail. The language here and density of text make it more suitable for Stage 2 students (Year 3/4). The section is very well structured and includes useful subheadings. This is then followed by a fact file on the species, which returns to the first-person voice of the phasmid. Finally the text concludes with an excellent glossary. A comparison of the language features of each section would be a great activity if using the text in Stage 2 English as well as Science.
The watercolour illustrations by Coral Tulloch are very reminiscent of her work in One Small Island with Alison Lester. There are some lovely detailed illustrations of the phasmids themselves, including those featured on the endpapers, and I especially enjoyed the borders included on several pages. My only criticism of the book, without going all academic and ecocritical on you, is that the first-person narrative section is a little anthropocentric (human-centred) for my liking in a non-fiction text.
As many teachers keep phasmids such as Spiny Leaf Insects in the classroom, this text will provide very useful extension for students. In summary, Phasmid is an interesting and informative text for budding entomologists. Recommended for Year 2-4 classrooms.
Teacher Tip: If you are using Phasmid as part of a Science, or integrated Science-English program check out the Teacher’s Notes available here courtesy of CSIRO. They are linked to Australian Curriculum outcomes for Science (Years 1 – 4) only.
*I received a review copy of Phasmid: Saving the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect courtesy of CSIRO Publishing. No payment was received for review and all comments are based on my own professional opinion.