THE OBSERVOLOGIST, by Giselle Clarkson

THE OBSERVOLOGIST, by Giselle Clarkson

A Handbook for Mounting Very Small Scientific Expeditions

Last week I was invited to Lake Tekapo School to meet four children’s authors who were on their annual Storyline Tour. The Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand aims to inspire children to enjoy the magic of books, especially books created for them by New Zealand writers and illustrators. One of the authors was Juliette MacIver famous for her Marmaduke Duck books. I say famous, but I wasn’t familiar with Marmaduke Duck. Well, Juliette did such an amazing performance reading Marmaduke Duck and Bernadette Bear that from now on the pupils and I will never again NOT know Marmaduke Duck.


Another guest at the school was author and illustrator Giselle Clarkson. This is an author I was much more familiar with. Last year Giselle published a beautiful non-fiction hardback book: The Observologist. Giselle told the schoolkids that she was always interested in little critters and that to her own surprise the word ‘observologist’ was not in any dictionary. According to Giselle the difference between an observologist and a scientist is that observologists make very small expeditions, every day. An observologist knows that there are extraordinary things to be found in even the most ordinary places.


The book is divided in five parts. The first part is all about observology, including an introduction to taxonomy and the rationale behind scientific names. The author does not shy away from complicated words, and I think that many an adult will also learn lots from this book. The rest of the book is divided into four main habitats ideal for observology: ‘a damp corner’, ‘pavement’, ‘a weedy patch’ and ‘behind the curtains’.



This book is an antidote to boredom and an encouragement to observe our environment wherever we are. The book is full of facts, quirky and detailed illustrations, science and funny stories. It is playful and informative and perfect for 7 to 11-year-olds. I think we are very lucky to have such an expert guidebook written specifically for Kiwi kids. If they weren’t curious already, they will be after reading this book.  

Gecko Press, $39.99


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