Book for the beach

Rock-pool guide brings young­sters closer to sea­side life

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

The beach can be­come a mag­i­cal class­room for kids this sum­mer thanks to a new Porirua book ex­plor­ing sea­side ecosys­tems.

Pukerua Bay ed­u­ca­tion con­sul­tant Gil­lian Can­dler says she wishes her field guide for kids, At the Beach, had been around when her now-adult son was a nip­per ex­plor­ing the Pukerua Bay shore.

‘‘ He al­ways loved fos­sick­ing around there,’’ she says.

‘‘It’s a book I’d al­ways wished I’d had.’’

The book is aimed at 4 to 8-year-olds and looks at dif­fer­ent beach en­vi­ron­ments and the an­i­mals and plants that live there.

It has pages de­voted to man­grove swamps and mud­flats, fish, sea birds, sea­weed, jel­ly­fish and starfish.

Ex­cept for the man­groves, ev­ery­thing in the book can be found in Welling­ton, Ms Can­dler says.

Kids can take a pull-out card show­ing sea­side species to the beach to find their own spec­i­mens.

The book’s il­lus­tra­tions by Welling­ton artist Ned Bar­raud are rich and beau­ti­ful, she says.

‘‘His tex­tures are just fab­u­lous. They just look so good.’’

While other field guides tend to sim­ply list at­tributes of flora and fauna, At the Beach pic­tures whole sea­side ecosys­tems, so chil­dren can learn how all the parts in­ter­con­nect. ‘‘It’s more than just nam­ing things, it’s un­der­stand­ing that liv­ing things need cer­tain con­di­tions to live.

‘‘We’re hop­ing that by il­lus­trat­ing it, chil­dren will get ex­cited about how ev­ery­thing works in an en­vi­ron­ment,’’ she says.

‘‘We do need to look af­ter the oceans and this is a kind of start­ing point.’’

Can­dler and Bar­raud are al­ready work­ing on a fol­low-up field guide for chil­dren, but wanted to start with beaches, she says.

‘‘We be­lieve the beach is ac­ces­si­ble to most New Zealand chil­dren and we thought that was a really good place to start.’’

It seems writ­ing the book has made a nat­u­ral­ist out of Ms Can­dler, who now notes down ev­ery species she spots in Pukerua Bay.

‘‘You go out with new eyes,’’ she says.

At the Beach: ex­plore and dis­cover the New Zealand seashore is avail­able from book­shops or on­line at www.craig­pot­ton.co.nz.

Shore thing: Pukerua Bay au­thor Gil­lian Can­dler has launched an in­ter­ac­tive sea­side na­ture guide for chil­dren, At the Beach.

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