The Butterfly House

The Butterfly House
Katy Flint and Alice Pattullo
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Judging by the number of containers housing butterflies in the various stages of their development my partner has scattered about the place, I rather think my own home at present ought to have the same name as this book, although unlike Katy Flint’s ‘welcome’, it doesn’t have never-ending ceilings, nor does it contain the various habitats she names that provide homes for many of the world’s major butterfly and moth families. I was surprised to learn that these winged creatures make up 7% of all Earth’s forms of life.

We then visit the Hatchery, which explains the life cycle of a butterfly with reference to the Monarch as well as containing a number of unusual-looking caterpillars.

The next two spreads explain the differences between butterflies and moths,

what various adult butterflies like to eat and that caterpillars are fussy eaters usually preferring one particular host plant.

In the subsequent pages over 100 species of moths and butterflies from all over the world grouped in their various scientific families, are displayed in Alice Pattullo’s alluring, finely detailed brush and Indian ink illustrations. Some like the Small tortoiseshell

and the Orange-tip will be familiar to UK readers (and to me as their caterpillars are presently munching away on their food plants in our downstairs bathroom).

To see others such as the Crimson rose swallowtail, the Owl butterfly or the spectacular Luna moth,

you’ll have to visit a butterfly house like that at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire or the one in Stratford-upon-Avon.

No matter where you live or visit, this book is sure to whet your appetite to get to know more about these beautiful creatures.

Really Remarkable Reptiles / Turtles, Snakes and other Reptiles

Really Remarkable Reptiles
Jake Williams
Pavilion Children’s Books

Award winning designer, Jake Williams introduces us to an amazing assortment of reptilian creatures in this his first picture book.
He provides us first with an introductory spread with paragraphs explaining what reptiles are biologically, their evolution, egg laying and habitats. Next come a reptile timeline, which goes back as far as the age of the dinosaurs, and a life cycle.

Thereafter are four sections, one each devoted to – ‘Lizards’, the carnivorous ‘Snakes’, ‘Turtles and Tortoises’ and ‘Crocodiles and Alligators’.

Included in the first group are chameleons and many people probably tend to think of those as just one kind; I was aware of different species but surprised to learn that there are over 200 chameleon species, nearly half of which live only in Madagascar.

I was also fascinated to read that the Sailfin water lizard is a metre in length, has a fin 7cm tall and can be found in a variety of colours – brown, green and yellow, adult males often turning bright blue to attract a potential mate.

Most people shudder at the mere mention of snakes; I’m certainly no snake lover but apart from the poisonous ones, am not frightened of them. I even once had to demonstrate (at the request of the hotel naturalist),their harmlessness to a group of female workers who were scared to go and clean the cottage rooms after one discovered a snake had got into one. Having it wrapped around me was I thought, over and above the cause of nature.

It happened to be a variety of tree snake, not the South American Emerald kind featured here,

as this was in Kerala (south India). I would however have been exceedingly alarmed to come upon a live and highly venomous, Sea snake on the beach or ocean’s edge there (although I did find a number of dead ones).

The domed-shape shelled Turtles and Tortoises form the next section. Did you know their shells have a web of nerve endings and a tortoise or turtle is sensitive on every centimetre of its shell? One fascinating fact I learned about female green sea turtles is that they often choose the same beach on which they were hatched to lay their eggs.
The last section includes the largest of all living reptiles, Saltwater crocodiles that can grow as long as 7m.

Did you know that crocodiles swallow stones as a food grinding aid in their stomachs? Ouch!

The final pages of this absorbing book are devoted to Habitats and environments, (reptiles are found on every one of the continents except Antarctica, residing in such diverse places as deserts, rainforests, mountain parks and cities but sadly some species have been lost or are under threat due to human action. We can all do our bit to help conserve them: using less packaging and recycling can help.

Also on the same theme is a much smaller book:

Turtles, Snakes and other Reptiles
Amy-Jane Beer and Alice Pattullo
Lincoln Children’s Books

This handy Pocket Guide, written by natural history expert, Dr Amy-Jane Beer introduces the four main reptilian groups and after introductory spreads entitled ‘What is a Reptile?’ and ‘Reptile Life’ come several spreads devoted to the different families with representative examples.

Did you know for instances that Sea turtles are able to sleep holding their breath underwater for hours? That Komodo dragons have gums that bleed easily, turning their saliva pink; or that Blind snakes hunt their prey using their sense of smell?

This is a good, get-up-close look, finely illustrated by Alice Pattullo, at the various species and an introduction to a fascinating topic that may well get young readers hooked on biological science.

Need more suggestions for your children’s summer reading? Try Toppsta’s Summer Reading Guide

An Animal ABC

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An Animal ABC
Alice Pattullo
Pavilion Books
Print-maker and illustrator Alice Pattullo’s animal screen prints are used as the basis of an awesome ABC book. This is so much more than a mere alphabet book though. We’re introduced to a veritable treasure trove of creatures large and small but these are not for the most part the normal go-to animals one finds in a child’s alphabet.

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Each creature is given a double spread with a multi-layered screen print picture of the animal on the right hand side named above in capitals, with (as a rule) a lower case Latin name beneath the illustration.
For her menagerie, rather than the strictly naturalistic colours one would expect for each animal, Pattullo has used hues of the earth, sea and sky to build up her images.
The left hand page has the initial letter as a capital with two lines below which form part of a rhyming couplet: ‘S/ is for sloth/ who smiles while asleep 

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followed by: T/ is for turtle/ who swims waters deep.’ …

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Below the rhyme in smaller print are two or three lines of information about the featured animal. Clearly this will be more of interest to adults or older siblings sharing the book with a young child.
There’s a final treat at the end in the form of twenty six vignettes – one per animal – and each is a small detail taken from the whole image, to be matched with the full sized picture earlier in the book: excellent for developing visual literacy.
Altogether a classy book to look at, discuss and linger over.