SNAPPER: The Real Story

Annemarie Florian & Alistair Hughes

This is a snapshot introduction to the life and current situation for snapper, Chrysophrys auratus (historically, Pagrus auratus), told in 3-part harmony – free verse, artwork and supporting information. This genre shows information and perspectives represented in different ways and different combinations of image and language. Teachers may use it as a springboard for writing, art and analyzing visual language.

The fish we love to love, snapper is a long-lived and slow-growing species. Life cycle is revealed, showing its physical appearance and changes throughout development. Emphasis is on an appreciation of snapper and other species, distinctive ecosystems and the marine environment.

Challenges for the continuing survival for snapper and a sustainable catch are considered. The book gives an opportunity to reflect on our place within the largest body of water on the planet; how little we really know of that environment; and the diverse and nuanced range of species that marine environment supports.

In some teachers’ hands this book will trigger discussion around our responsibilities and opportunities within an ocean context, fishing regulations and sustainability, habitat destruction and climate change. Overall the book provides a rich starting point for further exploration. The activities suggested here are for teachers to be able to cherry-pick, in accordance with the particular interests and abilities of their students.


Imprint: New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd
Classification: Narrative Non-Fiction Picture Book
Publication: 2021
ISBN: 9781760793340
Pages: 32
Readership: 7+

This Resource Kit contains the following sections:

  • Before Reading
  • Close Reading
  • Image and Style
  • Further Research Activities and Creative Responses

Before Reading

  1. What does the cover picture indicate about the book’s content?
  2. Have you ever seen snapper while snorkeling or diving? Describe your experience.
  3. Or perhaps you’ve fished for snapper? How did you go about that? Where did you fish? Were you successful?
  4. The creatures living within the ocean are part of a wide community in which all species impact one another. Can you think of other marine creatures that you might also see near where snapper gather?

Close Reading

  1. Name some of the foods that young snapper eat. As they grow older, what other foods do they add to their diet?
  2. In some fish species about half of the population will switch gender as they mature. Some switch from male to female (Protandrous hermaphrodites); others switch from female to male (Protogynous hermaphrodites). Which of these is the snapper?
  3. What is a lateral line? What is its purpose?
  4. Can you identify some of the other marine life in the book?*

Image and Style

  1. The introductory page shows our Big Blue Planet seemingly floating in space. How does it make you feel? What does it make you think about?
  2. Have you ever played statues? Why do you suppose snapper might ‘play statues’ among horse mussel beds?
  3. How are humans ‘the most dangerous predator of all’?
  4. Snapper go by many different names. Draw a picture of a snapper. Choose one of its names to label your picture. Is it a young snapper? Or very old? Colour it in.

Further Research Activities and Creative Responses

  1. The sea is complicated, home to many millions of species, from fish and plant life to microscopic bacteria. Choose one that intrigues you to study further. What is the life cycle? What do they eat? Find out all you can about where they’re found.
  2. Snapper eat kina, kina eat kelp. Research what happens when too many snapper are fished from kelp forests.
  3. By signing up to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, nations agree to work to stem the loss of biodiversity by supporting endangered species and environments. Research some of the strategies we use to do this.
  4. 4Our environments are central to our health, for both people and nature. Choose a public nature space – land or sea -- you already know. Can we utilize that space as well as protect it? Discuss how.

* Here are some of the other marine life featured:

  • P10-11 Pot-bellied seahorses, baby octopus
  • P16-17 Horse mussels, sand flounder
  • P20-21 Pie-crust crab, starfish (eleven armed sea star), bristle worm, kina, shrimp, moon jellyfish
  • P22-23 Pied shags, gannets
  • P24-25 Short-tailed or sooty shearwaters
  • P26-27 Hectors dolphin, white pointer shark