I found myself grinning when I was handed a copy of Dragonflies of our Parks and Gardens for the express purpose of writing a book review. What was not to like about it? It felt sleek even at 110 pages and the lush green covers exuded a cool, soothing feel.
And if that weren’t enough, the nice close-ups of the Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and the Common Scarlet Dragonfly (Crocothemis servilia) in the front cover only made the book all the more endearing.
Seeing how the content is structured, I naturally zoomed into my area of interest—Bishan Park (the Park is located in my estate and is a stone’s throw from my residence). I was intrigued to know that a “staggering” 31 species of dragonflies have been sighted at Bishan Park but was a tad dismayed to find only the names of 12 or so species mentioned in the write-up and even fewer species that had identifiable photographs.
For obvious reasons, the content on the other parks was less endearing although to be fair, the write-ups specific to each park or garden is enlightening. I’m not sure why the history and facts about each park has to occupy half of every chapter space available. At one stage, it almost felt like the content on dragonflies was an aside while the main crux of each chapter related to communicating general park information. But thankfully, the other half is more relevantly and pertinently permeated by content on dragonflies.
I thought it seemed a tad presumptuous to say “it is indisputable that Singapore has a long history of dragonfly research” while conceding that “it was not till the mid-1990s that Singapore dragonflies were studied intensively…” Furthermore, there’s only dedicated chapters to six of the 20 parks, gardens and nature reserves listed on the back of the identification guide.
That aside, however, this publication does impress. There’s quite a bit packed into this book including enlightening information on ‘Dragonfly Conservation’ and ‘Creating Dragonfly Habitats’, a species list that tables the six different spaces where the dragonflies can be sighted, and a neat pull-out identification guide that comes complete with 48 images of dragonflies and damselflies that can be found in the variety of parks, gardens and nature areas.
Readers will also be pleased to note that these attractive offerings are on top of the important nuggets of information on the behaviour, anatomy, lifestyle and development of the dragonfly.
The long and short of it is that this publication works as a guidebook on dragonflies endemic to Singapore. And it would make a nice addition to your growing collection of guidebooks published by the Science Centre.
The Science Centre proudly hosted one of the publicity events for the book in June when author and odonatologist, Robin Ngiam presented a talk on Singapore dragonflies and introduced the publication to a guest audience.