Book Review: In The Bush, by Gillian Candler & Ned Barraud

Available now at bookshops nationwide.

cv_in_the_bushMy two are keen bird watchers, and they have a good smattering of local bush knowledge, thanks to their excellent early childhood education. So when I gave them this book to mull over, they discarded it. “We already know about the birds,” they told me. But on visiting Rainbow Springs and the Redwoods in Rotorua during our Christmas break, the book was all too popular. “It was a Tui, no, a Saddleback, a Grey Warbler…. Daa-ad?” I found myself adjudicating with the help of the bird-identification card from the book, which features illustrations of 20 common local birds. Candler and Barraud’s book is not a revelation in our household, more an affirmation of our knowledge. But for others who are not so familiar with our most common birds and wildlife, it would be a great starting point.

For instance, did you know that a giant snail (Pupu) can live up to 40 years? Or, that not all bees are imports. We have a local, the Ngaro huruhuru, that lives in the ground and has no stripes, unlike the immigrants. Did you know that Grey Warblers unwittingly feed Shining Cuckoo chicks? Cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds’ nests so they don’t have to feed them – sneaky! And the creepy vine that hooks onto Supple Jacks and Birch is known as Bush Lawyer, though the reason for the name is still unknown. There are many more super-interesting facts to be found within these pages.

Gillian Candler has a teaching and educational publishing background, a keen tramper and pest trapper, so she knows her subject. Ned Barraud is a keen natural world illustrator and trapper. He might not be Raymond Ching but his work still paints believable, empathetic pictures that lead each page. It’s his brilliant watercolours that create each scene. Even for those who can’t read yet, it’s important that the colours and scale are right. Children know this and will very quickly dismiss anything inferior.

This is the fourth book in the Explore & Discover series by Candler and Barraud, many of which have been shortlisted for national book awards. For a readership aged from around 5 years to  10 years, it’s a simple, effective book that will remain valuable as a reference book in the homework library.

Reviewed by Tim Gruar

In The Bush: Explore & Discover New Zealand’s native forests
by Ned Barraud & Gillian Candler
Published by Potton & Burton
ISBN 9781927213544