Abygale Aardvark and her Wildlife Friends

A Love Affair: Lynn Hurry and Abygale Aardvark

Title: Abygale Aardvark and her Wildlife Friends
Author: Lynn Hurry
Published by: Briza Publications
ISBN: 978-920217-72-3
Reviewed by: Fiona de Villiers

Abygale Aardvark and her Wildlife Friends is a carefully researched and beautifully presented book for readers of all ages. Author Lynn Hurry has a Master’s degree in ecology and a Doctoral degree in Environmental Education.

As an award-winning writer in the linked fields of geography, ecotourism and sustainability education, his writings for both young and older readers are driven by a passion for environmental sustainability. They encourage readers of all ages to rethink the ways in which they relate to the environment.

Abygale Aardvark and her Wildlife FriendsAbygale Aardvark and her Wildlife Friends is a large format hard-copy book that belongs in all school libraries and can be easily incorporated into cross-curricular work. In the foreword, Jim Taylor, who was The Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa’s director of Environmental Education for over 20 years until 2019, writes:

Lynn’s stories build understandings within each of us – young and old alike – about animals and the environments in which they live … the stories are notable for us human creatures reflecting as they do the message of the Ahmedabad Declaration on Environmental Education, India 2007, which reads: Our vision is a world in which our work and lifestyles contribute to the well-being of all life on Earth.’

Abygale Aardvark and her Wildlife Friends is a book to be treasured for its rich and innovative design. Here’s an ideal opportunity to teach children not only how to protect the environment, but also how to look after a book: turn pages carefully, and read with clean hands!

I love that the contents page is made up primarily of pictures. Here’s another opportunity to teach children growing up in a digital age how print books are designed in order for the reader to know what lies ahead. Teachers can explain what a contents section is all about, and get the message across that learners can use the contents pages to move from guided reading to exploring books on their own.

In a brief ‘hello’ message, the loveable narrator Abygale Aardvark introduces readers to the idea of forming a ‘LUCAFTA’ club, so that they can always ‘look up to and care for animals for tomorrow and always’. At the back of the book young readers will find out how to make a LUCAFTA badge so that ‘People will know that you are doing what you can to look after Africa’s wonderful wildlife.’

Many young readers, particularly those in urban areas, may never have heard of an aardvark, so here’s a chance to explore this shy animal. On pages 14 and 15, readers can learn how the aardvark got its name and what that name means, where in Africa they are likely to be found, what they eat and how they make their burrows.

The charming illustrations show something I certainly didn’t know; that a multitude of creatures (warthogs, serval cats, porcupines, pangolins, pythons, white-tailed rats, and bat-eared foxes) often seek refuge in abandoned aardvark burrows.

I am currently enjoying watching a toddler move into a stage where she is encountering books for the first time. I can testify that these illustrations have captivated her, and that in the months that lie ahead, I will use this book to expand both her vocabulary and her knowledge of the rich biodiversity on her African doorstep.