Book for the beach
Rock-pool guide brings youngsters closer to seaside life
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.