Book Review: Wild in the Backyard

We live in Bangalore, but due to a stroke of luck, we found a quieter area with lots of trees. It also adjoins an army reserved area, there are lot of trees, reptiles, rodents, insects and birds. The popular reaction about animals other than pet dogs and cats, ( and sometimes even to these) is either to fight or flee. Conservation is usually synonymous with “ Save the tiger”. One tends to forget what is quite literally in our backyards . Arefa Tehsin’s “Wild in the Backyard” is a beautiful book that reinforces the fact that we cohabit with other animals and birds. They are important to the ecosystem and how they affect our daily lives. To quote a quotation from the book , “ In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught”- Baba Dioum. This book predates the previous book we reviewed and recommended “The Globe Trotters” by the same author .

This book is like an encyclopedia a of all the animals that we come across very often in our daily lives — from Mosquitos to bats! the range is quite exhaustive. The good part is, it is not a typical encyclopedia which becomes a very tough read for children. The tonality is very simple and conversational. There are a lot of facts about the animal, but some how you don’t feel over loaded while reading the book. While you get to know a lot of scientific facts about the animal, my favourite part of the book is that even the cultural beliefs about the animals get covered. There are 25 chapters, each covering in detail a single animal. Black and While Illustrations are used to further enhance the content! if only it was in colour :)

The first chapter, for example, is about The Bat.There is a pointer that talks about how one can build a bat house to encourage bats to come and live in the garden. While, I would have loved to see details about how to build one, I realize that it is out of scope of the book. But , it encourages children to believe that they can do some positive intervention in the lives of other creatures around us. Aztechs, Mayans and Zapotechs, all had beliefs about the bat related to passage between living and dead. Buy the book to find out this and many more facts about the various animals. It is a must in every home and school library.

Educational Value : 5

Age Band — broad band : 9+ years

Publisher : Penguin India

Author : Arefa Tehsin