Reviews /

What the Macaw Saw

Authored by Charlotte Guillain
Illustrated by Sam Usher
Published by Welbeck Publishing Group

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A story told through the eyes of the scarlet macaws living in the Amazonian rainforest, in the author’s own words, ‘explores the threats faced by beautiful scarlet macaws and what is being done to protect them’.

What the Macaw Saw opens with vibrant colour and our narrating macaw being hatched in a hole in a tree with family until they find a mate of their own. From here they show us their forest home filled with colour and plenty of fruit and clay for them to eat. This colour quickly changes when they lay their first eggs, as we see humans appearing in trucks felling trees through the forest. The macaws are powerless and can only watch as all the trees are chopped down. The fear gets worse as fires then quickly spread, destroying their homes. Further danger arrives as poachers steal chicks from nests. All these pages are dark and gloomy colours.

Then suddenly the colour starts to change. We see more humans coming to tag and protect the macaws and their world opens up again as their young  ‘swoop from our tree’ and ‘soar with the flock’. There is a very beautiful final double spread filled with scarlet macaws and a final question, ‘What will they see?’ Perfect to open a discussion with children in KS1.

Written as a story in rhyming verse, just two rhyming couplets on each double spread, through these cleverly chosen words we learn so much about the world of the scarlet macaw. If you are left wanting to know more about these fascinating birds, you won’t be disappointed as at the end there are fact pages about them, how to be a friend to the rainforest, why it is important, what we can do to help and how to be a local wildlife hero.

What the Macaw Saw is a powerful and emotional story to share with young children, filled with facts, encouraging curiosity and questions about an endangered species, rainforests and inspiring us to help protect our wildlife. A picturebook that will link to classroom themes on protecting the environment, encouraging young children’s research skills to find out about endangered species, rainforests, birds around the world and to stimulate writing and discussions to persuade and inform on these topics.

It is a Just Imagine Reading Gladiator Book Club choice for Y2 and is the third in this brilliant series, following on from What the Elephant Heard and What Did the Tree See.