Reviews /

The Observologist

Authored by Giselle Clarkson
Illustrated by Giselle Clarkson
Published by Gecko Press

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An observologist is someone who makes scientific observations every day, albeit very small ones.

So begins the blurb of this fantastic addition to any non-fiction library in the primary school. This is an ode to taking notice, to being aware, and to see the wonder in the ordinary.

Presented in a highly illustrated style – almost comic-book-esque in places – this guidebook leads the reader through the purpose of being an ‘observologist’, which is to simply to appreciate the world around us, and to be curious about what is going on. Early on, we are introduced to a whole page illustration of a leaf, complete with holes, markings, droppings and patches. What has happened to the leaf to cause it to look like this? Turn over to find out…and welcome to the world of observation.

The reader is introduced to taxonomy, classification and anatomy in an accessible manner, which would support older Key Stage 2 children in their science curriculum, but is written so clearly that younger children would benefit too.

Following the formal introductions, we are ready to observe! But where do we go? Well, fortunately, as per the blurb, our scientific observations are small, and so too are our expeditions. All we need to find is a damp corner, or some weeds, or perhaps cracks in the pavement. In all of these places, we will find life, and The Observologist will support us in learning why that is, why it matters, and will offer some handy dos and don’ts (how to help tired-looking bumblebee, or how NOT to pick up a worm, for example). Throughout, illustrations are scattered among the text in order to support the observations and explanations, and there are some beautiful whole-page pieces of art to help explain the anatomy of a bee, or the wonder of a woodlouse, or simply, just to celebrate the smaller living things of our world.

Giselle Clarkson has done a wonderful job here. The Observologist is a book packed with information, knowledge, hints and tips, but is presented with a lightness and a sense of humour that would have younger children giggling away too. From a science perspective, it needs to be in Years 4, 5 and 6, but for sheer awe and wonder, younger children would love to explore the wonderful illustrations as they conduct their searches for minibeasts. It’s a winner all round!

Longlisted for The Wainwright Prize 2024