Review of ‘Windcatcher’
ChickPea has been an avid lover of books about birds for some time now and has enjoyed a few outings with a dear friend of ours who takes the most amazing photographs of birds, including this recent one of a pink robin which went rather viral all over social media. This review by Dr Sam Lloyd is about a short-tailed shearwater and is one that I know ChickPea will adore and one that is going to be very popular in my school library. Sam looks after Science themed books here at Children’s Books Daily and you can see all her Science reviews here.
Title: ‘Windcatcher: Migration of the Short-tailed Shearwater’
Reviewer: Dr Sam Lloyd
Illustrator/Author/Design: Diane Jackson Hill and Craig Smith
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Themes: Bird migration, bird habitat, bird food, bird behaviour and bird biology.
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I am very excited to be reviewing another book from the ever-growing collection of ecological and science-themed books from CSIRO Publishing. This time we have ‘Windcatcher: Migration of the Short-tailed Shearwater’, which is the remarkable story of a bird that makes a massive 30,000km return journey from southern Australia to the Arctic Circle.
The story follows the adventures of Hope, a fledgling short-tailed shearwater and its perilous journey from the safety and warmth of its burrow on Griffiths Island, all the way to the Arctic Circle (and back).
This story highlights for us the challenges and risks that parent birds face to successfully rear their chicks and how miraculous it is that a bird can make such a huge journey. We learn about the many threats the birds face on their journey, including getting tangled in fishing nets, exhaustion and most disturbingly, ingestion of plastic (see War on Waste below).
Whilst there are a few theories, no one really understands how the birds manage such a long journey…or how they manage to leave and arrive on approximately the same day each year. Importantly, this story also tells us of the valuable work scientists and volunteers are doing on Griffiths Island (near Port Fairy, Victoria) to tag and monitor hundreds of birds, to help us learn more about this incredible species and safeguard its future.
CSIRO Publishing recommend this book for ages 6 – 9 years, but honestly, I could see this book being well received in my daughter’s Prep class (ages 4 – 6) and could also see it being an excellent resource and inspiration for further investigation in upper primary school grades.
There are two pages of reference information at the back and some excellent “Teacher Notes”, supporting use of the book through a variety of grades.
War on Waste and our Oceans
Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste has been hugely successful in educating and engaging children, families, schools and the broader community in food waste and plastic/rubbish pollution, including the ocean. In Season 1, we learned that 1 billion coffee cups end up in landfill and our oceans every year – with the show offering ideas and achievable ways to change behaviour and reduce waste. For more information check out the links below…hopefully Season 3 is just around the corner.
Birds, Twitchers and Kids
For links to bird resources please see my review of ‘Australian Birds’ here.
ABC Science recently featured this article on how drastically bird populations are collapsing across the globe, and how (like bees and pollination) we should be deeply concerned.
Animal Migration Resources
For kid-friendly information on animal migration, visit:
My favourite science podcast BrainsOn! Has a great episode on the migration of the monarch butterfly that you can listen to here.
Dr Samantha Lloyd
Dr Samantha Lloyd is an ecologist and environmental manager with a passion for the Australian bush, children’s literature, dance, music and baking. Sam firmly believes in the value of engaging environmental and science-based children’s literature to nurture children’s insatiable curiosity and their need to understand why things are the way they are. Sam is keenly focused on growing little minds into big thinkers.
Sam graduated from the University of Wollongong with a Bachelor of Science (Biology) and a PhD (pollination ecology) in 2006 and has worked as an environmental manager and an entomologist. Sam’s ability to interpret and critically evaluate science-based publications for children has led her to be the chief children’s science reviewer for award winning website Children’s Books Daily and for the Ecological Society of Australia.
Sam’s favourite authors and illustrators include Arthur Rackham, Roald Dahl, May Gibbs, C.S Lewis, Brian Froud and Mem Fox. Sam lives in beautiful Brisbane with her husband, two young children, one dog and five chooks.