Thursday 5 September 2019

The Australian Survival Guide

The Australian Survival Guide by George Ivanoff (Puffin) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN 9780143796572

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This book, a comprehensive survival guide to all the dangers that could befall you in the wild, has truly got you covered if you decide you want to live and adventure in Australia (the cover reads ‘Australia is trying to kill you – This book will save your life!) Chapters cover land, in the water, the environment and everything else. The chapter, ‘the land’ for example, deals with slithering death, creepy crawly death, tiny flying vampiric death, tiny not-quite death, and cute but dangerous.

‘Creepy Crawly Death’, for example, deals with Australia’s top five deadliest spiders with a page devoted to each one. It shows the scientific name, habitat, location, web, prey and effects of venom as well as ‘other stuff’ – for example, the venom of the male spider is more toxic than the female. As well, there are interesting facts (such as the invasion of spiders when arachnids rained down over Goulburn one morning!) If in fact you are bitten, there are also first aid instructions and how to catch a spider, how to avoid getting bitten, pest control and how to keep a spider as a pet (!!) The pages include black and white photographs and plenty of graphics with yellow the dominant colour throughout the book.

Ivanoff has collected quirky anecdotes such as the woman out walking who was attacked by a wombat, how actor Hugh Jackman saved his son’s life at Sydney’s Bondi Beach, how indigenous Australians use native flora and fauna to treat sickness and injury. There are numerous fact boxes such as Australia’s Top 3 Deadliest Floods, Basal Cell Carcinoma, Thorny Devil, etc. As well, there is plenty of practical advice if your life is threatened, for example what to do if caught in a rip. Further reading and a glossary are included at the end of the book.

At the start of the book an avatar with ‘game-playing survival skills’ introduces itself and proceeds to introduce topics. Visually, pages are eye-catching with break-out boxes, changes of font size and type, graphics and photographs. Every page is filled with interesting and sometimes fascinating facts. One could imagine the target market for this book – children aged from nine years plus – spending countless hours reading and dipping into the 175 pages. It certainly shows that Australia is a very dangerous place!

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