Tuesday, 31 May 2016


Circle by Jeannie Baker (Walker Books)
HC RRP 29.99
ISBN 9781406338010

Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Jeannie Baker is famous for the exquisite collages used to illustrate her work. I always know that when I hold a book of hers, there will be something special waiting for me between the covers. Here, beginning ‘in a place where mud and sand become sea’, we follow the migratory path of the bar-tailed godwit (Limosa lapponica baueri).

The godwits are migratory waders that begin their journey north from Australia, in March-April. In April-May, they stop in the wetlands of the Yellow Sea to feed and rest. May-June sees them arrive in their breeding ground in Alaska. In August the godwits are found along the coast of the Alaskan Peninsula, fattening up for the journey south, as they have by now, lost half of their body weight. They must leave before the Arctic winter sets in. Their 11,000 kilometre journey is the longest unbroken journey of any animal in the world. 

In October-November, the godwits are in their Australian and New Zealand feeding grounds. (See migration map at the back of the book)

This book educates and creates awareness about, not only the plight of godwits, but also other migrating shorebirds and creatures that depend on places to rest and feed.

Unfortunately, many of these resting places are disappearing due to reclamation and development. Circle brings us face-to face with the reality that everything is inter-connected; how all that we do influences everything around us, extending to the other side of the world.

Presented simply, but with a powerful underlying environmental message, Jeannie Baker’s book will hopefully reach into our consciousness and remind us of the constant threats to our planet. I hope it will be widely used as a teaching tool to ignite children’s passion for preserving the environment, as they become familiar with the term, the Circle of Life.

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