Nici Gregory, Where’s Speedy?, Berbay Publishing, May 2021, 40 pages, RRP $25.99 (hbk), ISBN 9780648953395
George and his sister, Lotta, collect a slug from the garden and pop it into a jar to observe. But Speedy goes missing and, as the two children (who are pups) ask everyone in the family if they have seen their new slug friend, all kinds of mini-beasts are uncovered… but where’s Speedy?
Anthropomorphic animals collecting minibeasts is a fun idea, and everyone in the family of dogs is interesting and humorous. They include a hard-of-hearing grandfather and a pretzel-baking father. And what’s not to love about the stereotype-smashing mechanic mother?
Debut author/illustrator Nici Gregory’s short, engaging sentences are well-suited to the target reader age of 2 to 6 years, and her illustrations, which are reminiscent of Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter series, are also amusing and accessible.
Other pluses are that young readers will love finding Speedy the slug hiding in every spread, and the subtle message of leaving nature where it belongs, which encourages respect and sustainability.
Besides being an entertaining read for any occasion, this story would make a great introduction to nature studies and minibeasts because it includes all the usual suspects found in a typical park or garden: frog, spider, caterpillar, worm, ant, slug and ladybug. There are also gorgeous front-papers with illustrated instructions on how to go on your own bug hunt.
Children who enjoy nature and the great outdoors will love this book. It will hopefully entice quite a few homebodies outside too.
Reviewed by Julie Murphy