Archives for category: Genre: Natural History

Published by Firefly Press

There is an old adage that you should never judge a book by the cover. I believe that on the whole this is true (you can miss superb stories, by assuming things, just because of the illustration and design), however, I am also aware that sometimes a cover can lead to extraordinary books.

This is one such.

On the whole books about the environment can be a little worthy, this though is marvellous – which is just one of the reasons why I love it.

I have thought about reading the first book in this series before, but never got around to it, however, my colleague Tom (without whom my working life would be much more stressful), showed this to me yesterday and I fell in love. First with the cover, with its brilliant design and then found myself enchanted by this wonderful story. The plethora of insects, mammals and arachnid characters are colourful and superb – this is about intolerance, the environment and natural history – a gorgeous extraordinary mix – like nothing else I have come across… There are classical and binomial references too – and the details of the lives of the smaller wildlife, out in our gardens is carefully covered, and there are references too to the solar system and the more complicated aspects of physics…

It is one of those special books. The first volume is called Aubrey and the Terrible Yoot, which I will read as soon as I can get hold of a copy. I am also excited to report there is a note in Aubrey and the Terrible Ladybirds that there is to be a third…about spiders – those glorious arachnids… called appropriately enough Aubrey and the Terrible Spiders.

These are books for anyone who is interested in our smaller fauna – with brilliant plots too…I could go on, but I had better not….

Oh, almost forgot – it has some lovely illustrations too – just enough, and not too many by Jane Mathews….

Wide Eyed Editions

This is a book like none other that I have come across. An exploration of the world of nature using coloured lenses to bring clarity to the pictures.  I wish that I didn’t know about the science behind it, and for those who don’t, it will be a simply magical volume. Without doubt Carnovsky’s illustrations in three colours make this book the extraordinary volume it is. This is not a story book, this is a non fiction book showing animals and vegetation like never before. It is not only a beautifully illustrated book – it is full of information too. A wonderfully remarkable volume that should be given to all good little girls and boys  who enjoy natural history.

The lenses are set carefully into the inside of the front boards for safe keeping.

It is beautiful and extraordinary.

Various publishers have produced editions of this over the years. Macmillan though have just published a lovely little hardback – all edges gilt, in their Macmillan Collectors Library collection, with nice endpapers, pale blue cloth boards, with blind blocking on the front and a dust jacket…

This could be my favourite book. It is beautifully written, funny, an extraordinary observation of an English family abroad, full of natural history and animals. It makes me laugh every time I read it and it is a pure piece of pleasure for me. I have several copies. I don’t have one to read in the bath, or to read without too much care in the garden, however, and must buy a cheep copy for that purpose.

The BBC recently did a series based on the volume. The characters were almost perfect, but what happened in the film didn’t bare much relation to that in the book. Which wasn’t to be expected, but don’t rely on what you saw being an indication of what you will experience when you read it.

Should you not be aware Gerald Durrell collected animals from the age of about 2 – and grew up to be one of the greatest naturalists and conservationists of the 20th Century; setting up the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust and the zoo on the same island.

This volume is about a short period he and his family made to Corfu when he was aged about 10. It is about the people of the island, the animals, the island itself and of course his family. It is superb.

The animals included in the story include the following:

Roger, Gerald’s faithful dog, who travelled with the family to Corfu. Caterpillars, nameless, who also travelled to the island, transported in a jam jar. Widdle and Puke, two puppies given to Gerald for his birthday…crab-spiders, earwigs, a pigeon called Quasimodo, rose-beetles, a tortoise named Achilles, trap-door spiders, and oil beetles…amongst others, not including the scorpion, that was central to such a wonderful episode in the book that always makes me laugh till I cry.

All of which give a wonderful back ground to the story of Larry, Leslie, Margo, Gerald and of course his mother, Spiro, Lugaretzia and Theodore – and that’s without mentioning Larry’s various friends who arrive regularly and en-mass to add to the confusion.

It is a very English book – and is marvellous.

One day I shall have to purchase a first edition – if I can find one that is signed, that will be all the better.

If you haven’t read this, then, you really should.