Gina Newton (text) and Rachel Tribout (illustrator), Hold On! Saving the Spotted Handfish, CSIRO Publishing, October 2020, 32 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781486311842
Told from the point of view of a rather cute little fish called Handstand, Hold On! introduces the reader to the little-known anglerfish, the Spotted handfish. We learn about the distinguishing attributes of this species including its unique ‘hands’ (pectoral fins) and how it uses these to ‘walk’ along the seafloor rather than swim like most other fishes.
We also learn the particular way this species reproduces and how increasing threats to its survival have placed it onto the infamous ‘red’ list of threatened species. However, it is not all bad news as Handstand describes how scientists have worked towards managing and mitigating the risks, saving them from the brink of extinction.
The informal narration style makes this a great book for younger readers, with accessible and personable language rather than hard, dry facts. It also cleverly humanises the animal so that the reader may more readily empathise with this animal in plight. The handy glossary and abbreviations list at the back of the book is a useful addition for younger readers to learn terms introduced in the book as well.
Rachel Tribout’s illustrations throughout are colourful and energetic complementing the story wonderfully. There is also a colouring page on the associated webpage as well as extensive teacher notes, making it a great Science/English/Art teaching resource.
A great book to introduce to children aged 6 -10 years that highlights an environmental problem but with an optimistic approach on how humans can effect positive change.
Reviewed by Julie Bertola