Wednesday, 11 March 2015

HELLO BIRD! BY DONNA DYSON






I wanted to feature Hello Bird! today not because of its amazing design or because it's the most popular book on our shelves, but it's one that I feel is important for the children to read. Don't misunderstand me, they enjoy it. It appeals mostly to the girls as the text is written in a sing-song guessing game style. They enjoy looking at the pictures and trying to work out the type of bird on the page. And the more we read it together, the more they look forward to reading it.

But the reason I chose it is because I haven't come across many books that feature birds found in Australia. So many books we come across have wildlife that you would find in England - such as badgers - or America - raccoons spring to mind. But I don't feel there's as much of a familiarity with Australian wildlife, other than the most common animals such as kangaroos, koalas and wombats.

Take the popular books Animalium and Zoology - they are beautiful, and definitely have their place (they're on our shelves), but I feel there's a slight disconnect between the children and them because many of the animals are unknown. Of course, we want to learn those too, but in addition to the flora and fauna around us.

I confess that I am not able to identify all of the birds in this book. And I wouldn't be able to tell you the difference between a Crimson Rosella and a Rainbow Lorikeet, other than looking at the images. 

We have the companion book Animals of Australia too, and again I wouldn't be able to describe a numbat or a spotted quoll if I didn't have a photo or illustration in front of me. Perhaps it's because I didn't spend my early childhood years in Australia that I struggle with these animals. No matter what the reason, I want to learn now, and encourage the children to be engaged in the world that surrounds them.

We bought these books on our summer holiday visit to Queensland Museum. They were reasonably priced at $9.95 each, and feature the beautiful illustrations of John Gould, an English ornithologist from the 19th century. He travelled to Australia with his wife Elizabeth in 1838 to document the wildlife here. The result was Birds of Australia, which was published in seven volumes between 1840 and 1848. The author of these books is Donna Dyson, a teacher and university lecturer.

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