Puffin Little Historian: Dinosaur, Penguin Random House Australia, May 2021, 96 pp., RRP $12.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781761041716
Puffin Little Environmentalist: Gardening, Penguin Random House Australia, May 2021, 96 pp., RRP $12.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781761041709
The Puffin Little Series is continuing to expand with new titles Little Environmentalist: Gardening and Little Historian: Dinosaurs. In the very same style and format as previous titles these non-fiction minis, written in second person, are well planned and will make for a great resource for younger primary school aged children.
Little Historian: Dinosaurs gives readers the absolute basics of dinosaurs – it seems to have been written with the assumption that the reader has never heard of them before. (There are some kids who are dinosaur obsessed, this book is not for them.) It contains age-appropriate explanations of the history of the earth and evolution, profiles of different dinosaurs and a chapter on the work a palaeontologist does. There are great little explanations of important things like fossils, extinction, and the plants the dinosaurs would have lived with and eaten.
Little Environmentalist: Gardening is a more practical book for kids who love to get their hands dirty and try out things they read about. Starting off with a simplified explanation of what plants are and how they grow, this book then moves on to explain how to start your own garden, what you’ll need and how to improve your gardening results. There is a simple, easy little experiment to help kids see what seed germination looks like. One great little section features the importance of bees to the gardening and food production process. There is also information about Australian native plants that helps readers see the benefits of choosing them for their garden.
Based on the look of the books I sat down with my 4-year-old to give them a read, but I soon realised that these are much more suited to a strong primary school aged reader, probably from 6-9 years old. The length of these books is similar to a junior chapter book, and there are some difficult words (defined in glossaries) which might overwhelm some kids who are new to reading independently. However, I know there are many children who just thrive on non-fiction material, and this is a great starting point for them on their independent reading journey.
I would suggest trying these if you’re finding your kids’ take-home readers too easy, boring, or repetitive. They may take more than one night to get through, but that’s okay. They are just right for a strong, young independent reader.
Reviewed by Cherie Bell