Endangered Animal Tales 1: Coco, the Fish with Hands – Aleesah Darlison. Illustrated by Mel Matthews.

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Penguin Random House

June 2021

  • ISBN: 9781760899226
  • Imprint: Puffin
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 32
  • RRP: $19.99

Yesterday at the EdSummit conference Brisbane, I had the great joy of hearing the amazing Aleesah Darlison deliver a lively and engaging presentation called “Saving the Environment through Story”. Uber-talented Aleesah has long been a huge advocate for the environment and has repeatedly taken up the cause of various creatures through her creative work. And what better time to write this review than following that experience on this, World Environment Day!!

This new series from Penguin/Puffin is going to be a real winner with little people, their parents and educators as it explores hitherto not-so-well-known Aussie critters.

First up is the adorable and really very special spotted handfish which is found only in the Derwent estuary near Hobart, Tasmania. Young children will love to hear about Coco and while this is not a narrative in the traditional sense it has a strong sense of story mixed in with the fascinating facts. These sweet and interesting little fish are critically endangered and it is imperative that we all do what we can to protect and conserve the most humblest and smallest of creatures – because they all have their important role to play.

Highlighting the information which is presented in such a palatable and easily accessible way are the absolutely tremendous illustrations from Mel Matthews. Having read the book last weekend, and then listening to Aleesah yesterday my mind immediately raced as to the many possibilities for activities, inquiry and action that one could undertake with kiddos. For those who are looking to focusing on Australian species and taking an active stance on conversation this series is going to be absolute gold, in my opinion.

I’m so thrilled to be able to count Aleesah amongst my literary friends – her talent, generosity of spirit and genuine commitment to educating and encouraging children to take up the challenge of protecting our fragile environment.

Read more about the series here and find teaching resources here – our junior library is about to populate a gifted fish tank with inhabitants and I think this is going to be a perfect accompaniment to that real-life activity.

I cannot recommend this highly enough and am so looking forward to seeing the forthcoming series titles!!! Well done Aleesah on another evident success!!

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