When first flicking through this book, it looks like other exciting non-fiction books - it's not overly wordy and contains great photos. However, once you start reading and discover that the book is written by a twelve-year-old boy, you are amazed that someone so young could publish something so engaging. James apparently started writing it as schoolwork but found that he just had to continue and extend his research and writing.
Any young readers interested in tusks, antlers, claws, horns and fangs will be captivated by the text and even adults are likely to learn a new fact or six from the book. Between three and seven pages are dedicated to each of the topics and explain how animals use these features whilst defending predators, in order to survive.
The target audience will approve of the style of James' writing, as he uses words they'll readily relate to such as "gross”, “cool”, “nasty” and “awesome". However, there's also sophisticated and technical language used (eg habitat, ferocity, genetic) and sometimes the author puts a very short explanation in brackets after a word he thinks some readers may not know, eg "talons (bird's claws)" and "scavenger (an animal that eats dead things)". Some of these technical terms can also be found in the glossary at the end of the book.
I love the way James makes the text so personal by sharing viewpoints such as suggesting that tusks "should be where people can see them ..." and demonstrating that he didn't always know as much as he knows now "For a long time, I thought ..."
I can see this being an extremely popular book in our library and know that it will be pored over by many students.
Title: Nature’s Wildlife Weapons
Author: James Ryan
Publisher: David Bateman
Publication: January 2022
Ages: 8-12 years
Themes: Natural history, wildlife survival
Do you have any advisory warnings for this book? None
Would this book work as a read aloud? Yes. If read aloud, the style would appear to the audience as if the author was there telling them about his fascinating topics.
Is there a particular part of the country that it’s set in? Special mention is made of Canterbury, but other parts of NZ are also mentioned as are other countries.
Reviewer: Nadine Molloy, Assistant Librarian, Remarkables Primary School, Queenstown
How are you recommending this book? Highly Recommended
Opening sentence: Tusks are teeth that are much longer than normal. They are usually used for fighting.