Dolphins, whale song, animal stories and poo!

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The Scottish Friendly Children’s Book Tour visited primary schools in Argyll and Bute this September with the wonderful author and zoologist Nicola Davies. Nicola started her career at the BBC Natural History Unit (you might recognise her as one of the original presenters of CBBC’s The Really Wild Show) and has travelled the world studying all different kinds of animals including manatees in the Amazon, chameleons in Madagascar, walruses in the Arctic and, most recently, sperm whales in the Caribbean. This passion for the natural world is reflected in her books, many of which are inspired by her experiences of seeing animals in the wild.

Nicola shared her enthusiasm for nature and curiosity about animals from around the world with over 750 pupils in 10 different schools – from tiny rural schools with only 20 pupils on the Isle of Mull, to groups of 200 pupils which filled the school hall. The tour started on Mull, which we all agreed was the best place on Earth, and then headed back to the mainland to visit schools in Oban, Lochgilphead and Strachur before taking the shortest ferry crossing in Europe to the Isle of Bute. Next we visited Dunoon and Strone and ended the week at two schools in Inverclyde.

Throughout the week Nicola shared stories from her travels and astounded pupils with strange and surprising animal facts. Did you know that a two year old child could crawl through the arteries of a blue whale? Or that its heart is the same size as a smart car? Have you heard the story of the origins of the Australian accent? It features dung beetles, flies and lots of cow pat!

Pupils transformed into sperm whales and dived to the bottom of the ocean, using echolocation to catch giant squid. They learnt the song of the humpback whale and promised to teach it to their family when they got home. They also shared their own animal stories and asked Nicola lots of questions about why she writes and where she gets her inspiration. Of course everyone wanted to know what Nicola’s favourite and least favourite animals were – she loves giant anteaters and hates spiders!

After each event pupils were left buzzing and excited to read more of Nicola’s books, evidenced by the very long queues to buy books and have them signed! A huge thank you to Nicola Davies for a fantastic week and to all of the wonderful pupils and staff who we visited for their enthusiasm and appetite for facts about poo!

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Scottish Book Trust

The above was provided by Emma Lamont of the Scottish Book Trust.

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