Go, green gecko! by Gay Hay

cover image

Ill. by Margaret Tolland. Starfish Bay Children's Books, 2017. ISBN 9781760360337
(Age: 4-7) Highly recommended. Geckos. Lizards. Animals - Food. Gay Hay is a New Zealand school environmental officer passionate about sharing her love of animals, their diets and habitats with a young audience. New Zealand artist and teacher, Margaret Tolland's richly detailed paintings perfectly capture the green gecko's landscape and search for food. The striking front cover with a glossy overlay on the green gecko and bold title with an inquisitive eye staring out from the letter 'O' draws us into this informative picture book. Each double page spread follows the gecko's journey from the treetops, along the branches, scrambling through the rich red rata blossoms, always on the lookout for danger. Tolland captures the sinuous movements of the lizard, as it hides in the green foliage, purple tongue ready to catch a dragonfly or beetle.
The author's simple text is considered and captivating, there is an action, place and food to find, followed by an admonition to watch out for danger. 'Scuttling along branches, snatching at flies,' the green gecko's daily journey is all about seeking nourishment. We follow its passage and look out for the hidden danger as well. Time needs to be taken with each turn of the page, after reading the text to explore the illustrations. There is an anticipation built into the story, and young readers can predict what is about to happen when the foldout page is reached. The winding forest map drawn in tones of grey, highlights the green gecko as he scurries to safety.
Go, green gecko, is an excellent resource for the Early Years Science curriculum - Biological Sciences. In Year 1, 'learners explore and investigate how living things live in different places where their needs are met'. Information written inside notebook boxes at the conclusion allows for a more in-depth study of the Wellington Green Gecko, a threatened New Zealand species.
Rhyllis Bignell