Why Animals Can’t Save the Planet is a compact, colourful book that shows children what they can do to “save the planet“.  The book is written in rhyme and features bold, colourful illustrations of animals trying – and obviously failing – to carry out actions that are easy for humans to do: a gorilla struggling to turn off a tap while cleaning its teeth, a crocodile attempting to ride a bike to school, a slug trying to switch off a light.  The final two pages reinforce what “big clever people like you” can do: be “a leading light switcher… a shower super-power…a teeth cleaning, tap turning, fresh-breathed hero…” and so on.

There is, of course, the issue of anthropomorphising animals, and care would be needed when using this book with children to ensure that misconceptions don’t develop.  Also, perhaps the animals could have been more relevant to the situations; the best one for me was the beetle being unable to eat “the horrible waste left by me and by you”, as this could lead to a discussion about invertebrates breaking down natural waste, which could in turn lead to talking about composting, developing a wormery etc.  Nevertheless, the message that it’s us humans who need to make lifestyle choices and changes to benefit the environment – because the animals can’t do this – is very worthwhile.

Juliette Green

Why Animals Can’t Save the Planet.  Concept by Darren Ruddell, words by Seamus Hilley, illustrations by Stéphanie Röhr. Serious Comedy 2016. Paperback, pp18. ISBN:978-0-9932796-2-1. Available from www.seriouscomedy.co.uk. Retail price £2.00; price for schools 80p per copy (email info@seriouscomedy.co.uk)