Giveaway for National Non-Fiction Month

We're giving away three copies of Urban Jungle by Vicky Woodgate, published by Big Picture Press, to our members this month to celebrate National Non-Fiction Month!

Author and illustrator Vicky Woodgate has blogged for us, below, about how Urban Jungle was developed.

If you would like to be entered into our free draw for one of three copies of Urban Jungle, email your school's details to:

The competition closes on 30th November and winners will be informed.

Vicky Woodgate told us more about Urban Jungle:

Our Urban Jungle

My first encounter with an urban fox was the most magical thing ever... It was early evening, he stood completely still when he spotted me, I froze and held my breath - we stared at each other for what seemed like hours, him with his fried chicken leftover meal clamped firmly in his jaw, me with my bag of crisps clasped in my gloved hand. l looked into his brown eyes and saw a keen intelligence staring back, a car alarm broke the spell and the fox sped off.

I breathed again, exhilarated by the encounter, I felt a sudden connection to nature, I rushed home and found my British Wildlife Handbook and read up on the red fox.

For me there is nothing more satisfying that looking at pictures and reading from a book, the physical, in your hand, just like the real fox standing opposite me. I started to research wildlife in towns and cities, to notice more creatures around me.

I live in a busy small city like many, surrounded by grey/brown built structures, the green of urban gardens, parks and even rooftop terraces a welcome, colourful relief. People hurriedly walk by, heads buried in their digital devices - on the bus - on the train - in a traffic jam, never seeming to notice what surrounds them.

l love to study maps, and as I started to research more, I realised that there really was no place where l could just look up what is living beside us. What was needed was a big colourful map book that you could explore with your family and friends, discover the landmarks and read the facts, track the rivers and roads find the city parks and what animals lived there.

Many of us no longer have a connection with the natural world - how can we if we are nose deep in the digital world? A physical book like this could be the first bridge to the physical outside, a connection to the living planet, learning about the other species we share our URBAN habitats with.

I discovered that peregrine falcons hunt off some of our tallest buildings, flying at speeds of over 300km per hour to catch pigeons. In Berlin, North American raccoons live right in the city centre, and wild boar roam the suburbs. Did you know there are South American coypu, a huge rodent that looks a bit like a beaver, living in the rivers of central Rome?! And that Chicago in the United States has over 2000 wild coyotes calling Downtown their home?

So l created Urban Jungle, a place where anyone can read just what lives beside us, what we could spot in our daily lives and what we can do to help the creatures survive and thrive for generations to come as we face more environmental challenges.

It is in map form with bite sized facts to lead you through the cities, an easy way to dip in and out - maybe this could encourage children and their parents to have a look on their way to school to see if they can spot a beetle, a worm, a sparrow or even a bird of prey, and to get that magical encounter I experienced in our man-made environment and to feel we really can be connected? Reading about these creatures could be the gateway to discovering them.

I like to see what l can spot on my way to work - perhaps children can be asked for their natural encounters on the way to school?

Today's count included:

1 blackbird eating a worm
1 robin shouting at the world
2 peacock butterflies sipping nectar from the planters at the train station
3 grey squirrels squabbling over a sandwich
(no coyotes in Brighton)

By Vicky Woodgate, author and illustrator of Urban Jungle

12/11/2017Giveaway for National Non-Fiction Month
  • I'd love to win a copy of this book for the children of Upton Meadows Primary School, many of whom go 'ugh' when they see a spider or a worm, until I suggest they might like to look more closely to see how beautiful they are. We have just opened a forest school, so the children are beginning to explore the natural world in school time, but the walking bus (which I help out with) is another opportunity to spot wildlife in the busy streets around us. We are blessed with lovely school grounds and a park nearby: the children just need encouraging when it comes to connecting with the creatures and plants living there.
    Jane Rew 14/11/2017

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