Reviews /

Old Oak and the Wild Flowers

Authored by Elena Mannion
Illustrated by Erin Brown
Published by Pikku Publishing

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Old Oak and the Wild Flowers is the third volume in a delightful sequence of picture books featuring the inhabitants of the hedgerow, which surrounds the Barley Field.

The countryside is celebrated in a gentle and joyful tale that addresses concerns about conditions affecting flower feeding insects. Winter has been long followed by a hot, dry summer and the barley has not grown as it should. Whilst Old Oak watches over the field, offering shelter and sustenance to a variety of wildlife living in his roots and branches, he talks to Mr Shield, expressing their concern at the situation. A decision is made that the flying insects need to leave and the ground dwellers bid them farewell. As the seasons turn, Old Oak realises that the field has not been ploughed as usual, but it is not until March that he understands that the farmer has decided to plant something different. With the coming of spring, a wildflower meadow is ablaze with colour and the insects are returning, along with children playing happily.

The detailed, accurate illustrations, suffused with seasonal colour, are an integral part of the book. Young children can pore over the pictures and with encouragement and a good nature guide can identify the birds, insects, plants and minibeasts depicted. The endpaper maps reflect this change, with the colours of the wildflower meadow added and the renaming of the Barley Field. This is a book for sharing, to help connect children to nature, inviting further discussion and offering the opportunity to explore nature and the importance of biodiversity.