BOOK REVIEW¦A Hollow is a Home

Paperback | October 2019 | $ 29.99
ISBN: 9781486308057 | 104 pages | 250 x 215 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Colour illustrations, Colour photographs

ePDF | October 2019
ISBN: 9781486308064
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers

A Hollow is a Home is a bright and engaging book that teaches children about many aspects of nature and ecology, all themed around the importance of the humble tree hollow. Best of all, being written and published in Australia means it features lots of native species (east coast bias aside) that we can see in our own backyards and local bushland.

The book is aimed at upper primary school age children and does a good job of minimising and explaining any technical terms, at least as much as is possible for a scientifically informed text. However, it doesn’t shy away from discussing some complex themes and the interconnectedness ecosystems, so it is still a valuable read for high-schoolers and even adults who are starting to take an interest in learning about the environment. For instance, I had never thought about how the hollow-creating termites rely on fungi to first soften up the wood and that the fungi in-turn rely on insects, fire or fallen limbs to first damage the protective layer of bark.

The downside to discussing the connectedness of nature is that it is difficult to explain topics one at a time. While the author Abbie Mitchell has done her best to organise the content into logical sections there is invariably the occasional need to “refer to this section of the book” so as the reader you often feel you’re missing a part of the story.

At a little over 100 pages there is plenty of information to found within but it never feels like a textbook, with plenty of photos, original illustrations and “Creature Feature” inserts highlighting cute animals to break up the text. Along with the colourful pages this helps to engage younger readers (cue grumbling about kids these days having the attention span of a gnat) but might make it less appealing to older readers who seek a more “mature” looking book.

The second half of the book has more of a focus on how humans impact hollows and the animals that use them. While the threats are discussed, importantly for this age group, it also includes positive stories about how scientific research can help save species and suggesting actions that children perform to help with conservation. The CSIRO website also has free resources to help teachers use with this book in their lessons.

A Hollow is a Home is a wonderful resource for anyone starting their adventures learning about our local ecosystems and I’m sure it would be especially appreciated by any nature-loving 10 year olds you know.

Steve Lofthouse