Go, green gecko! by Gay Hay

cover image

Ill. by Margaret Tolland. Starfish Bay, 2017. ISBN 9781760360337
(Ages: 2-5) Geckos. This is a New Zealand publication and a similar title, Watch Out, Snail!, is also available. The text, which follows a repetitive and predictable pattern, is lyrical and has some great imagery ('Slithering over rotten logs, gulping down a spider') but it doesn't always flow well ('Scurrying along a riverbank, sneaking up on dragonflies.'). The refrain ('Watching out for danger, looking . . . '), however, is great as it encourages young children to join in the reading and provides a predictable anchor for the reader which assists in setting a rhythm. The Illustrations are textured and show the gecko up close as he moves through the long grass, along branches and over rocks. They are quite good at showing how the gecko's body bends and moves and young children will enjoy pointing out the numerous other insects featured in the pages. At the end of his adventuring the lizard encounters something large and blue. Scared, he scuttles and scampers back the way he came (shown through a story map). Then we see the predator (a bird) with a gecko tail in its mouth and our gecko short of a tail. Confusingly though the gecko has an intact tail on its return journey. The last two pages include information about geckos; however, these facts are in quite big chunks and seem a little dense and lifeless for the target audience. Some of the information will be interesting to young children (a gecko's mouth is bright blue inside) while other inclusions will not be as fascinating (they used to be common in New Zealand, but now they are not so easy to find). On the title page, there is a dedication to Ruaumoko, the Maori earthquake god, which will not be understandable to most Australian children (or adults for that matter). There are also some other New Zealand specific references (rata trees). Children who love finding and following insects in their environment will enjoy following the gecko's journey but some minor details have been overlooked and overall this may be more suited to a New Zealand audience.
Nicole Nelson