A sad but inspiring book about living things, Iris Moffat
Lost Wonders: Vanished Creatures of Aotearoa
Allen & Unwin
May 6, 2022
Lost Wonders: Vanished Creatures of Aotearoa is a sad but powerful book. Each chapter is a different story about our extinct, or endangered creatures of Aotearoa. Although it is a non-fiction book, at the start of each chapter, author Sarah Ell writes a paragraph of an explorer, killing or just encountering the animal of the chapter. The animals mostly consist of birds, but there are also plants, bugs, whales, and dolphins. All these living things became extinct, or at least very close to it, whether it’s from human killings, habitat loss or the introduction of different predators. Mostly it is all of these factors.
The book starts off at a slow pace. Some bits are hard to read, and I had to re-read them a couple of times before they made sense. I found this book very enjoyable when I was by myself, with no music. It was easier to concentrate that way. Once I was in my happy spot, I found this book very enjoyable, although very sad.
I love animals and reading this book drew me into the animal kingdom even more. Ell really shares her message about caring for the environment and this made me want to do something to help it. So, I would really recommend this book for young people who want to learn more about how and why our precious creatures became extinct. The best age for this book is probably 12 and up. Although it is not inappropriate in any way, it is still quite a hard book to read.
Throughout the book Ell uses phrases, or paragraphs from famous explorers, such as quotes from Walter Buller’s book A History Of The Birds Of New Zealand from 1888. Although this made the book a bit hard to understand at some points (because of the old-fashioned language, it definitely made it even more interesting.
The book is split up into three paragraphs: The Lost, (extinct); Lost and Found, (extinct and then recovered); and Almost Lost. Most of the chapters are quite sad, but it really makes you feel good when you hear of a person who tried to reform the lives of some of these animals. At the back of this book there is a small chapter about how you can try and help, by just doing your part. There is also a small chapter about other books that Ell read before she created this one.
I highly enjoyed Lost Wonders and definitely think that if you want to learn about what happened to the vanished creatures of Aotearoa then this is a must read. I almost feel like I’ve travelled back in time and have seen the mistakes that our past generations made, but also how they didn’t understand what their impact really was. Now we can learn from those mistakes.
The piopio, the South Island snipe, the koreke, Hawkins’ rail, the greater short-tailed bat, kauri, the Mokohinau stag beetle… I didn’t know about any of them until I read this book. Ell tried to put in every animal, even if they were not well known.
- Iris is 12 and lives in Nelson.