(suggested) interest age: 3-7
(suggested) reading age: 6+
Illustrations: Ruth Jên http://www.ruthjen.co.uk/ruthjen.co.uk/croeso___welcome.html
It feels like only yesterday when Criw’r Coed a’r Gwenyn Coll was launched! It’s hard to believe three years have passed. In that book, a concerned little bee came to ask for help from a group of wise forest animals. Time may have passed, but our impact on nature and the planet continues – and is getting worse if anything! (take Rishi Sunak’s recent announcements going back on his word on climate targets for example).
The first book was popular because it tackled a very relevant topic, and did so in a colourful and fun way. Out of all the insects, bees were getting a bit of a bad rep (people tend to panic when they buzz around us) The truth is they are nature’s superstars! That's why the message the first book was so important, because it made children aware of the vital role certain small creatures play in our ecosystem.
Criw’r Coed (the woodland gang) is a rather random collection of forest animals. As part of the group, there’s an eagle, an owl, a deer, a blackbird and a salmon. Much like the A-Team (showing my age) or the Avengers, they come together to help animals in need. But these aren't just normal animals – criw’r coed are extremely wise and knowledgeable. Oh, and did I mention they rap too? How cool is that?
It’s not the bees that need assistance this time, but the hedgehogs. I'm so glad the author chose this animal, because not enough fuss is being made about their plight. Queen's guitarist, Brian May, loves them so much he opened up a hedgehog sanctuary on his land and does a lot for the cause. Unfortunately, that's not enough to stop their decline and we simply must do more!
Some sources say the population has fallen by up to 75%! The reasons for this are very complex, but one thing is certain – we’ve played a part in this. Our fences, roads and walls often prevent these cute little creatures from travelling around the country in search of food. What's more, our overly-tidy gardens and affinity for slug pellets have reduced the food available to them. And if you remember the words from Crysbas’s song, a lot of them come to an unfortunate end under the tyres of our cars!
Like the bees, the hedgehogs are disappearing. Thank goodness Criw’r Coed are around to give wise advice and turn the tide. By working together, the gang comes up with ideas to save the adorable little creatures. I think it would have been helpful to put a couple of 'tips' in the back of the book about the sort of simple, practical things we can do at home to help hedgehogs. Here's a link for some ideas:https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/what-do-if-you-find-wild-animal/help-hedgehog
The appeal of the series is the combination of environmentally important messages and the fun that comes from the modern and quirky characters. It's not often you see an owl wearing a hoodie, is it? (also – what an easy idea for World Book Day outfit!) But more than that, you can see that Carys, the author of the series, is absolutely buzzing with energy and passion about saving wildlife and spreading these messages among young children. Her enthusiasm shines throughout the book. Just check out the photos below from the recent launch event – it looks like such a great evening with lots of laughs! She reminds me of the energizer bunny, and her passion is contagious!
I wonder which animals will need Criw’r Coed’s help next time…?
The author, an experienced teacher, has been busy creating learning resources to go along with the book. These are so handy. There are lesson ideas and songs. Follow the links below to download: