Sensational Australian animals by Stephanie Owen Reeder. Illus. by Cher Hart

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Children learn about the five senses from a very early age. They understand that sight, sound, taste, smell and touch are an integral part of their daily life. For our Australian wildlife including sea creatures, insects, birds and all other animals, they too have senses - some which are extraordinary.

Sensational Australian Animals written by Stephanie Owen Reeder is a striking book full of information, images, questions, and sensational fact boxes. The information presented is easily accessible, written in sections with highlighted key words and surrounded by colourful illustrations. The Contents page clearly shows each of the five senses being discussed with four main headings underneath. There is a very detailed glossary in the final pages as well as a handy index to locate each animal. 

Each of the five senses is introduced with a full page labelled diagram showing the particular sensory organ. In the sense of sight chapter there is some wonderful information about birds including the fact that the male Satin Bower Bird uses the colour blue to attract a mate. In his bower he has blue objects on display which he may pick up in his mouth and perform a noisy dance. In the sense of sound chapter, it is mentioned that the Emu creates sound by inflating a pouch in the windpipe of its neck. Their sounds can be heard up to two kilometres away. For the sense of smell there are many odorous facts including the Eastern Long-necked Turtle that suck up water through their bottoms to provide them with oxygen when underwater and they happily live in raw sewage. If you touch one, you may smell of rotting cabbage! The sense of taste gives some very interesting facts including the remarkable Rakali (native water rat) that knocks the cane toad on its back, uses its sharp front teeth like a scalpel to open up the stomach and scoops out the non-toxic heart and liver. Finally in the sense of touch chapter, the Pufferfish has enough deadly poison on its skin to kill up to 30 people so do not touch dead ones on the shore ever!

This engaging and beautifully illustrated book is a treasure trove of amazing facts that will delight and entertain both young and older readers. A fabulous resource for a home, school or public library. Teacher Notes are available.

Themes: Animals, Five Senses, Wildlife, Science.

Kathryn Beilby