Reviews /

How to Chat Chicken

Authored by Dr. Nick Crumpton
Illustrated by Adrienne Barman
Published by What on Earth Publishing Ltd

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How to Chat Chicken…or to give its full title: How to Chat Chicken, Gossip Gorilla, Babble Bee, Gab Gecko and Talk in 66 Other Animal Languages.

Dr Nick Crumpton, a British zoologist and prolific writer of non-fiction for children, aims this endearing fact-filled animal compendium at the younger age range, possibly Year 2 to Year 4, as double-page spreads often contain three to four straightforward paragraphs detailing the various ways in which animals communicate. Separated into numerous sections, including domestic animals, ocean-dwelling creatures and minibeasts, the visually appealing pages are decorated with speech marks with interpretations as to what each sound means (‘HINNNNNNNNN!’ in dog-speak means ‘I’m so excited!’ for example). The main body of writing then offers a general overview of the animal’s communication behaviour, as well as other titbits of information linked to how they live.

Despite its title, this isn’t all ‘talk’ – the flashing of fireflies and scents left by various animals are also explained in terms of communication. I particularly enjoyed the section on stridulation and the near-final page (The Science Behind the Sounds) which both went into a little more depth scientifically. There is an extensive glossary that also details scientific vocabulary that would be taught across the primary curriculum. Adriene Barman’s illustrations are cartoonish and clearly appeal to the younger reader, making this a science book that is not too heavy on the terminology, but would be a great addition to a school library to support keen budding scientists.

Shortlisted for the English 4-11 Picture Book Awards 2024 Non-fiction 7-11 Category