Talk talk SQUAWK - how and why animals communicate by Nicola Davies

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Ill. by Neal Layton. Walker Books Australia, 2012. Softcover. ISBN 9781 4063 3854 6.
(Age: 9-12) Recommended. Humans communicate with words, faces and hands, with signs and signals, flashing lights and sirens . . . and we aren't the only ones. So begins Talk talk SQUAWK, written by zoologist Nicola Davies, who has also written 2 other titles in a similar vein, about sharks and animal poo. This book is of the type which will fascinate curious young minds, and clearly Davies has the 'knack' of informing without boring, ably assisted by the illustrations of Layton, whose cartoons of enraptured female birds had everyone who read this book at my house in stitches, especially thanks to the addition of 'UKisims' such as 'Cor!' and 'you tell 'im' - what can I say, it's the little things.
There was a lot of genuine interest in this book and the facts within, and it sparked off some interesting discussion and independent learning. Any time you hear 'Did you know pandas ...' or 'Oooooh, so THAT'S why they make that noise', you know you are on to a winner.
Far from being dry, this book is fascinating, and I learnt a lot from reading it. I now know how stinkbugs flirt, for example. While that may not be a useful piece of knowledge in my day to day life, I am now a) more alert to the land of L'Amour in my vegetable garden and b) more likely to win at trivia nights, because the last question is always something completely obscure, designed to bring you back to try and win the meat tray next week.
I think this is a must have for any school library. With an estimated range of Year 4-7, depending on reading level and background knowledge, this book really hits the spot.
Freya Lucas