May 25, 2020

June 2020: Wildlife – indoors and outdoors

Though we are currently living in challenging times, there are some positives to the current situation: no traffic, less pollution and what seems to be the presence of much more wildlife. Or maybe the volume of wildlife was always there, but we were all too busy to take notice. From more otters spotted along the River Dodder to killer whales swimming into Carlingford Lough or simply the abundance of robins hopping about outside, it’s a brilliant time to celebrate wildlife in Ireland.  

Now that we are staying close to home, whether it’s a trip to the park, walk along a local river or a stroll along a quiet street admiring the front gardens and window boxes, we thought you might like to read about some of the flora and fauna you spot while you are outdoors.

Age 1–3 With the unseasonably good weather we are enjoying, lets start with a perfect book to help little people learn about Irish wildlife with My First Book of Irish Wildlife from The O’Brien Press has an array of familiar creatures, everything from red squirrels to seals.

Age 5+ Spotting birds and animals as well as identifying plants, flowers and trees is another very enjoyable and educational activity. Over the last decade there’s been some beautiful Irish information books published celebrating Irish wildlife, everything from Éanna Ní Lamhna and Michael Woods’ Wild Dublinto Michael Fewer and Melissa Doran’s Naturama. Other stunning stand-out books for nature enthusiasts include: The Great Big Book of Irish Wildlife Through the Seasons and Dr Hibernica Finch’s Compelling Compendium of Irish Animals.

Age 5–8 Looking to discover the difference from an ash to yew tree? Or enjoy climbing trees or simply seeking shelter under them, there’s A Year Around the Oak Tree by Gerda Muller, describing the changing seasons around a 300–year-old oak tree, including details on animals, plants and flowers. The Wonder of Trees by Nicola Davies with glorious illustrations by Lorna Scobie is a wonderful book. Even if it’s six months into the year, it’s still not to late to order a copy of Nosy Crow’s 2020 Nature Month-By-Month: A Children’s Almanac. Young bird watchers will enjoy spotting birds in Nosy Crow’s ‘Out and About’ series: Bird Spotter is ideal for daytime; while nocturnal readers will fly through Night Explorer.

Wildlife can also be enjoyed indoors as pet owners will already know. Many families have decided to get a pet during this time, as the fact that more time is spent at home is ideal to introduce a new member of the family into the home. Whether you’re a dog lover or a cat lover, we have two fantastic books for both. Younger readers (2–5) will love Lola Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw. If you’re considering getting a dog or would like to continue training your dog, then Take the Lead by Elena Browne and illustrated by Jennifer Farley is the ideal guide for you and your canine companion to enjoy.

Whether you plan to discover nature trails, drop bee bombs or simply settle under the shade of a tree in your local park, we hope you take some time to read about and reflect on the myriad of amazing flora and fauna surrounding you. These are just some of the many fascinating books available to spark interest for young naturalists and keep emerging readers entertained. For more, please visit our website:

Síne Quinn, M.Phil Children’s Literature,is the Managing Editor at Cubicle 7 Entertainment. A Children’s Books Ireland Book Doctor and creative writing teacher, Bookmarks Programme at TCD, she provides editorial and writing support and advice to publishers.

My First Book of Irish Wildlife

The O’Brien Press, £7.99, ISBN 9781788491655

Badgers, foxes, hedgehogs, puffins, red squirrels, seals, swans, dolphins and whales, Ireland has an abundance of wonderful, diverse wildlife both on land and sea. This substantial square board book is just right for small hands to grip, turn the pages and possibly try a chew. With advice from Éanna Ní Lamhna, doyenne of Irish wildlife, and some photos from talented Irish photographer Anthony Woods, this book has lots of appeal. The photos of the animals and birds are clear and bright, and the text is easy to read. The last double-page spread shows all the wildlife featured, which is sure to encourage much enthusiastic pointing and naming. Age 1–3

Lola Gets a Cat by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw, Penguin Random House, £7.99, ISBN 9781580898454

From the popular Lola series comes an ideal book to inform and prepare children hoping to get a cat. From the opening pages, it is clear that Lola is a cat lover from the array of cat motifs and feline toys in her room. She goes to the library and practises minding a cat with her teddy Kitty. Lola learns that minding a cat is hard work. When the time is right, she visits the local animal shelter to pick out a kitten. Through Rosalind Beardshaw’s brilliant and vibrant illustrations, we see that an adorable kitten selects her. We also observe Lola’s gentle care and patience with the new kitten, and how in time they bond, play and settle into a happy life together. Age 2–5

The Wonder of Trees by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Lorna Scobie, Hodder Children’s Books, £14.99, ISBN 9781444938197

You might notice on your walks, that there’s a wide variety of trees to spot, some of which are now in magnificent bloom. Exploring the natural world can be fascinating and fun, The Wonder of Trees highlights how there are so many interesting facts about trees. The text is clear and informative and covers many topics from why leaves change colour to how to plant and care for a tree, whilst clearly emphasising the important message that people, and communities need trees. Lorna Scobie’s striking illustrations are a visual delight and add an extra layer of information to the book, lifting the vivid images off the pages with an incredible array of colour. This is a really beautiful gem of a book. Age 5–8

Take the Lead

Elena Browne, illustrated by Jennifer Farley

The O’Brien Press, £10.99, ISBN 9781788490818

Celebrating the history of ‘man’s best friend’ Take the Lead is a practical guide for anyone hoping to get a dog or already an experienced dog owner looking to increase their knowledge and skills. From cover to cover, this is a fun, uplifting and engaging book. An ideal gift, but also a perfect addition to any classroom and home. Elena Browne’s warm and encouraging text is a perfect complement to Jennifer Farley’s entertaining and exuberant illustrations, which are sure to make you smile. There’s also an array of gorgeous photos of dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds; crossed, mixed and pedigrees. The information is succinct, and the simple and colourful layout is ideal for emerging readers 7+. Take the Lead is a guide to treasure. It’s sure to be a big hit! Age 7+

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