Friday, November 14, 2014

Three environmental books for children

Operation Nest Egg Chick by Maria Gill, illustrated by Bruce Potter, designed by Heather Arnold

Deep down in a dark burrow
a father kiwi snorts and snuffles in his sleep.
Underneath him, a large creamy egg lies
snug and safe from pilfering predators.

Soon the kiwi chick hatches and has to fend for itself. Will it meet a fateful end or will the kiwi chick become part of the Operation Nest Egg programme? A creative non-fiction story about two kiwi chicks; one that becomes part of the Operation Nest Egg programme and the other ... you'll have to read it to find out. Each page includes photographs and text boxes about how kiwi are being saved.

The story has been written to appeal to young children with a story and for older children who want to know more with fact boxes.

Bruce Potter has drawn his illustrations on the computer using a mix of photographs and cartoon-like figures.  When asked why he drew the kiwi with large eyes, Bruce said he wanted children to be empathetic with the kiwi.

Heather Arnold and Maria Gill have included a video and photographs of kiwi releases Maria has organised for the Department of Conservation on Motuora Island:

Anne Whalley in Magpies magazine said: "Operation Nest Egg is a perfect balance of picture book and nonfiction. The narrative reads aloud well, introducing young readers to the life of young kiwi and the dangers they face... Although I found the eyes of the caricature kiwi and some predators somewhat manic in appearance, Bruce Potter's illustrations are well crafted and add atmosphere to the 'story'. Highly recommended."

Rangitoto by Maria Gill, illustrated and designed by Heather Arnold

In the middle of the Hauraki Gulf bubbles begin to appear. Soon there are explosions and fire fountains. Maori on Motutapu and the mainland watch in awe, as a volcano forms in front of them. This is a creative non-fiction story about the birth of Rangitoto and what happens when humans interact with the island.

Along with the creative non-fiction story are fact boxes, diagrams, and glossary boxes to help the emerging reader become familiar with volcano facts and terms.  The story can be read to or by younger children of 5-7 year olds, and older children 8-12 years old can read the accompanying facts.  This book is very useful after visiting Rangitoto Island to satisfy the curiosity of young minds and very helpful for volcano studies.

Rangitoto was originally published in 2009 with Penguin New Zealand. It was shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards and was reprinted twice.  In 2013, the book was updated and made into a digital book with Pixel Book.  In October 2014, it was republished under the imprint Long White Cloud Books. It's bigger, it's been updated, and it has some different design features.  You'll notice that the white space has gone and the narrative now merges more with the artwork. Scientific knowledge about Rangitoto had advanced since the book had originally been published and  therefore Heather Arnold has updated several of the diagrams. 

Associate Professor Ian Smith from the University of Auckland fact-checked the book. Emeritus Professor Kenneth D. Collerson PhD, FAusIMM endorsed the book:

It is a richly annotated book that contains an excellent glossary of geological terms about volcanoes. Facts about volcanoes, the interior of the Earth and the formation of magmas, although described in lay terms, are nevertheless scientifically sound.
I believe that Rangitoto is an excellent educational book that could be used as a resource by teachers in elementary schools.
As an earth scientist, I am happy to fully endorse this book for its geological content. It makes great reading, even for a professional geologist.

See links and teaching resources here.

Draw New Zealand Birds by Heather Arnold (DragonSauce Books)

Draw New Zealand Birds shows children and adults how to draw eight different native birds in pencil, gesso, and coloured pencil.  You will learn what equipment to use, how to use it, and also learn interesting facts about each of the native birds.  Heather shows how to draw each bird step-by-step and also how to advance some of the pictures into coloured artwork.

The book was originally published by Reed Publishing in 2007 and reprinted several times. It won the LIANZA Esther Glen award and was a 2008 Storylines Notable Book (non-fiction category).

It has been republished under the Dragonsauce Book imprint.

Reviewers in the past have said:

It is great to see rel­ev­ant draw­ing sub­jects; the New Zealand Birds. This lovely book encour­ages appre­ci­ation and facil­it­ates the need to look in detail and provides a for­mula to ensure success.
Good Teacher, 2007

This intriguing book, by Heather Arnold, (published by Reed, 2007) showing how to draw nine of New Zealand’s native birds will captivate any budding young artist. Each bird is introduced by describing where it lives, its feeding and breeding activities.National Library, 2007 

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