This is a brilliant book for use as a teachers’ guide and for lesson planning where the teacher wishes to focus on nature and environmental issues. I especially like the practical sections (make and do). What child could resist making a bee hotel, a hedgehog box or a pond for frogs? The ‘Ten Things to Do’ lists are a good learning tool in support of environmental issues and nature. For example: provide water for birds, bees and wasps, build log piles for hedgehogs and beetles, leave windfall apples for butterflies to feed on, leave fallen leaves and sticks under hedgerows for creepy crawly creatures. All simple and exciting tasks for small children which will enable them to observe the visitors these ideas bring to their gardens. If they are lucky they will have a garden at school. Children are endlessly inquisitive and ask the most amazing questions about things they have seen:

  • Why has my frog got a red skin?
  • Why is the big bumble bee in our shed hardly moving?
  • My cat kills birds and I don’t like it – what can I do?

This book provides answers that the teacher can discuss and the children will learn the value of caring for all creatures and how the environment is balanced. Although the illustrations in the book are delightful the pages are far too busy and complex for children to use alone. There are almost too many treats all at once.

If you give a child a large box of exciting, colourful toys they will grab one after another in quick succession and, just as quickly, toss them aside. Give them just one bright and colourful toy and they will really study it and observe all its properties to the full.

All in all a really helpful book for teachers as a springboard for linking learning to the national curriculum, a fantastic book for wildlife gardeners, but a little too advanced as a stand-alone book for children to use individually.

Muriel Cahill

The Wildlife Gardener Creating a Haven for Birds, Bees and Butterflies. Kate Bradbury, 2013.  ISNB: 978-0857831576; Kyle Books; 144 pages; PB.


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