Wild Life: The Extraordinary Adventures of Sir David Attenborough
By Leisa Stewart-Sharpe and Helen Shoesmith
Reviewed by Sarah Custance
Leisa Stewart-Sharpe is an Aussie born author who now resides in the UK, she mostly writes non-fiction as well as regular picture books, and sometimes combines the two together as you will see in her latest book Wild Life: The Extraordinary Adventures of Sir David Attenborough.
In this book we follow the life of Sir David Attenborough, beginning with him receiving a fire salamander for his 8th birthday. We briefly see him at Cambridge University where he first realises that he would rather be in nature rather than stuck in a lab, being enlisted in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, and receiving a letter from the BBC that ended up changing his life forever.
While working at the BBC Television Studio, Attenborough realised that he wanted people to be able to see animals in their natural habitat so that, even sitting at home, people could experience nature. From Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, to the grassy plains of Africa, Attenborough took people all over the world through their Television screens and taught people across the world about animals, habitats, and the importance of living harmoniously with nature.
Sir David Attenborough has influenced many generations of animal enthusiasts, researchers, scientists, presenters, and activists. His Television career spans almost 70 years, he has been to every continent on Earth, and he has seen some of the rarest creatures alive.
This book is a wonderful example of a non-fiction picture book. It is factual while still being entertaining and engaging. While many things about Attenborough’s life have been summarised or even omitted, that is to be expected from a picture book with limited pages. It is the perfect introduction to biographies, animal research/documentation, and obviously, Sir David Attenborough himself.
The last 4 pages are all further information, with curious animal facts and an illustrated guide to some of the plants and creatures that have been named after Attenborough that shows the influence he has made upon researchers and scientists. The illustrations by Helen Shoesmith are an equally important aspect of this picture book as they bring another element of childish fun and wonder to each page, making sure that it never feels like a bogged-down non-fiction book.
With rare tortoise’s, historic events, shared global experiences, and the extraordinary Sir David Attenborough himself, this is a must have book for any future young animal researchers, as well as school and public libraries. From beginning to end the reader can truly understand how Attenborough became a ‘Voice for Nature’ and inspired countless lives with his work.