The Squid, the Vibrio & the Moon
by Ailsa Wild, Aviva Reed & Dr Gregory Crocetti
The first thing that strikes you about the book is the beautiful illustrations that adorn the front cover and continue throughout the book. Done in watercolours, the illustrations have the feel of 18th century natural history books with wonderfully detailed images of creatures with annotations indicating important information.
The book itself is a narrative of the symbiotic relationship between the Bobtail squid of the title and the vibrio fischeri bacteria. The bacteria provide the bioluminescence that allows the squid to glow like the moon, saving it from predators, and in turn, it provides a safe home for the bacteria.
The story is made up of two parts, the first outlining the plight of the bacteria, the second, the plight of the squid. The stories are quite anthropomorphic, which allows the complex story to unfold, with enough moments of danger and intrigue to keep a young person engaged, but at the same time remains focused on the scientific details. These scientific details might overwhelm a younger reader, but I think that older readers would really want to know more, which leads nicely to a rich and detailed glossary section at the end of the book.
The glossary provides details on all those ideas and terms that came up through the story, but also provide information on the squid, the bacteria and how their symbiosis works in more technical terms. While it might be criticized for having a little too much information, it will certainly be a boon to that child reader who just wants to know more!
The Squid, the Vibrio & the Moon is a beautifully designed and written book that will delight and challenge a young reader, leaving them wanting to know more about underwater creatures and their complex inter-relationships.
Dr George Aranda is a former cognitive neuroscience researcher who has moved to the world of science education and science communication research. He runs the Big Ideas science book club in Melbourne and is the curator of Science Book a Day.