Researchers at the University of Exeter have written a new series of children's books.

New children’s books mix storytelling and science

Birds and turtles are common enough on the pages of children’s books – but what about bacteria or psyllids (otherwise known as jumping plant lice)?

All these and more star in a new series of children’s books written by researchers at the University of Exeter, featuring a young scientist called Professor Penny, and her dog Wilson.

They are designed to entertain – but unlike tall tales of broomsticks and beanstalks, the stories are based on real science.

The books include the inspiring story of how a moth outwits its predators, and a trip into the world of microorganisms with Flo, the special bacterium.

“These are stories first and science second,” said Matthew Creasey, author of Sophie and the Babbler Birds of the Desert.

“I study chestnut-crowned babblers, a type of bird only found in the Australian Outback. They are fascinating, and in my story I wanted to give children a real idea of what their lives are like.

“My story – written in the form of a poem – tells of a day in the babbler family’s life, and of some of the other Outback characters that share their home.”

The other stories are:

  • The Psyllid Who Wanted to Go Home, by Sally Luker. Finding your place in the world is tough – especially when you’re a tiny insect. But Aroha the Pittosporum Psyllid is determined, and soon discovers that home isn’t always where you think it should be.
  • The Adventures of Flo, the Special Bacterium, by Dr Nadia Andrea Andreani (now at the University of Lincoln). Flo is smaller than a puppy, a mouse and even a flea! This is the story of Flo, an adventure and an amazing friendship – and on the way we’ll find out that not all bacteria are bad.
  • Woolly's Wonderful Wings, by Emmanuelle Briolat. Woolly the fluffy caterpillar has always dreamed of the day he would emerge from his cocoon and spread his wings. But life in the sky is more complicated and dangerous than he expected. Fortunately, with every moth and butterfly he meets, he learns more about how his beautiful wings can keep him safe.
  • The Tale of the Turtle and the Plastic Jellyfish, by Sarah Nelms. This is the story of Nerin, a sea turtle who loves eating jellyfish. One day, she accidentally eats a plastic bag. Luckily, Professor Penny and her canine friend Wilson are on hand to save the day.

“Scientific research and children’s stories don’t seem like an obvious combination, but they have more in common than people might think,” said Sarah.

“Science is all about discovery and adventure, seeking answers and meeting inspiring people along the way.

“To me, that sounds like a story just waiting to be told.”

A launch event for the books will be held in the café at The Poly in Falmouth from noon-4pm on Friday 11 August.

To celebrate the launch, books will be available at discount prices and all proceeds will go to conservation groups.

Digital copies of the books are available for free on the University of Exeter website.

Date: 7 August 2017

Read more University News