Helen Scales (text) and Lisk Feng (illustrator), The Great Barrier Reef, Walker Books, June 2021, 88 pp., RRP $34.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781912497812
The aim of Flying Eye Books is to “take children on a journey of wonder”, and this browsable nonfiction book for readers 7+ years fulfils that promise. This is UK writer and marine biologist Helen Scales’ first book for children, and it largely succeeds in covering the complex topic of The Great Barrier Reef with balance and clarity.
Lisk Feng’s dynamic illustrations in a palette of blue, orange, black and brown immerse the reader in the topic, ably assisted by the large size of the book itself. Pages feature multiple or full-page illustrations and blocks of text with catchy titles, which suits readers who like to browse and reluctant readers.
Topics include the Great Barrier Reef’s origin, composition, flora, fauna, ecosystems, history, politics, threats, and conservation. A small section on what readers can do to help is a valuable addition.
Back matter consists of a comprehensive Glossary.
This off-shore production has, unfortunately, let a couple of inaccuracies creep in. The major one is its use of a term for First Nations peoples that some consider inappropriate (it is a variant of the word Aboriginal). Also, it misstates the number of coral bleaching events that have occurred on the Reef.
As an introductory reference book on the biology of the Great Barrier Reef, however, this book is attractive and very interesting. It will be a useful resource to both inform and inspire further learning in classrooms.
Great Barrier Reef is distributed in Australia by Walker Books.
Reviewed by Julie Murphy