Meet the Gumboot Kids

The Case of the Vanishing Caterpillar
The Case of the Wooden Timekeeper
The Case of the Growing Bird Feeder
The Case of the Story Rock

Eric Hogan and Tara Hungerford
Firefly Books

These four nature story books feature a couple of soft-toy mouse characters Daisy and Scout and are a spin-off from a Canadian animated TV series The Gumboot Kids.

In The Case of the Vanishing Caterpillar the pair track down Scout’s caterpillar friend, following clues such as nibbled leaves and an empty chrysalis case on a branch before spotting the missing insect in the form of a butterfly.

Scout sets Daisy the puzzle of searching the forest to find The Missing Timekeeper in the second book. Even when she locates the tree stump, Scout has to point out the rings on the cut surface of the Douglas Fir and they head to the library to discover their significance.

In the Growing Bird Feeder story it’s Daisy’s turn to set the challenge, but her friend is puzzled to hear while they picnic in the woods that she has forgotten to water her feeders. “What kind of bird feeders grow?’ he wants to know.
Returning to Daisy’s garden they eventually see a bird land on one of her tall sunflowers for a seed feast.

In the fourth book the two friends unearth the Story Rock when they dig up an ammonite fossil; then back at the campsite Daisy’s book explains how fossils are formed and that fossils tell us stories about ancient plants and animals.

Each book has a similar structure  – a nature puzzle being set by one or other of the mice, with clues provided in their notebooks. Once the mystery is solved further information is sought from a reference or library book.

The characters then share a mindfulness moment when they  consider their findings and at the end of the book there are double spreads with field notes and a related craft activity.

I’m always advocating the importance of fostering a love of nature in the very young, so welcome this series which clearly aims to get young children outdoors and eager to discover more about the world around them; these stories are certainly engaging and contain just the right amount of information in the narrative to spark their curiosity.

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