Animal life - in the real world

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TV presenter Michaela Strachan has got a soft spot for stories such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but she admits she’s got her reservations.

“It’s one of the most popular stories, but at the risk of getting shouted down, I can’t help thinking but why teach your children that a caterpillar eats ice cream and cheese cake. I would rather be reading with children a book that they can actually learn from.”

And that’s part of the reason she has produced her own, a fun children’s book offering a wealth of fun animal poems which come packed with sensible, relevant animal facts. The book is the basis of the stage show which Michaela now brings to Worthing, Michaela Strachan’s Really Wild Adventures (Connaught Theatre, Saturday, February 23, 1.30pm).

Adapted from the book, the show takes families on a delightful journey through an alphabet jungle of animal rhymes, from antelopes to zebras and from orphaned orangutans to polar bear dentistry in a whistle-stop interactive extravaganza full of poetry, dancing, music and lots of fascinating wildlife facts.

In effect, it’s a show which brings together all the skills and facets of Michaela’s career.

Michaela has been presenting since 1986 on a variety of programmes including The Wide Awake Club, The Hitman And Her, The Really Wild Show, Michaela’s Wild Challenge, Elephant Diaires, Countryfile and many more. She started off presenting children’s programmes but these days is known principally as a wildlife presenter, a job which seen her travel all over the world filming animals and conservation projects.

It was all great experience which she was able to draw on for the book.

“Actually, the writing is a new thing for me,” Michaela says. “The book was something that my agent and talked about, about the fact that I had never actually written a book. She said I should, and I have always enjoyed writing, so I went away and thought about it.”

Her own experience of being a mum, to six-year-old Oliver, helped – a chance to relive happy memories of celebrated stories such as The Gruffalo. Again, all that was missing was some decent wildlife fact. From it all emerged Michaela’s animal A-Z, a feat achieved with a little ingenuity. The x is supplied by the Latin for ground squirrel.

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