Monday, January 10, 2011

Fur, feathers and fins

The Doucette Library seems to be having a run on new animal books lately.  I’m enjoying many of them, as most have gorgeous photographs or illustrations to entice and keep my interest.

Here are a few highlights:

Anything by National Geographic is always a safe bet, especially when it comes to photographs.  I was especially captivated with Great Migrations : official companion to the NGC global television event by K.M. Kostyal (591.568 KoG 2010).  Having caught just one episode on TV, I enjoyed browsing through this one and having another visit with the red crabs on Christmas Island, Monarch butterflies in Mexico and wildebeests in Africa.  I was further induced to read more about the migrations of sperm whales and elephants.  I loved the pictures of the Golden jellyfish, too.  For high school to adult.

The Doucette Library also picked up the kids’ version of this title: Great Migrations: whales, wildebeests, butterflies, elephants and other amazing animals on the move by Elizabeth Carney (591.568 CaG 2010).  This covers the same animals with less emphasis on text.  Information is presented in very concise blocks.  I did find the varying font sizes and colours on each page a little distracting but I’m not too sure whether kids would pick up on this or not. Again, the photographs can’t be beaten.  Suggested for ages 5-9.

One last offering by National Geographic is the Wild Animals Atlas: Earth’s astonishing animals and where they live (590 Wi 2010).  Organized by continent, the selection of animals is pretty typical of each area (i.e. Giant pandas in Asia, lions and hippos in Africa, grizzly bears and bison in North America, etc.) with information about habitat and range displayed on introductory maps.  Then there’s more detailed information on a select ‘spotlight’ animal as well as a ‘spotlight’ feature about a specific ecosystem such as the Amazon rainforest.  Far from comprehensive, I think it would be best used as an introduction, to pique interest and present information about well known animals in a geographical way.  Best for young readers, ages 5-9.

I love books that can show me the ‘actual’ size of animals (see Actual Size by Steve Jenkins). Life-size Aquarium by Teruyuki Komiya (591.77 MaL 2010 PIC BK) takes us to a zoo-type aquarium to see a variety of sea animals ranging from sea horses, penguins, dolphins to various tropical fish and Japanese spider crabs, to name a few.  The best pages are the fold-outs which show just how huge the colourful, Humphead wrasse is (it can grow up to 8 feet long!!), a close-up on the mouth of an Orca whale and the length of a walrus’ tusks.  Questions and basic facts are included as well.   The pictures will appeal to young children (ages 4-8) but they will need help with the text which is suited to older kids (maybe up to 10 or so).

My last recommendation is Orangutans Are Ticklish: fun facts from an animal photographer by Steve Grubman.  This one had been recommended on a couple of other blogs that I follow and sounded intriguing.  I especially like it for the perspective shared by the photographer as he works with each animal.  Again, the selection of animals (hippo, aardvark, kangaroo, grizzly bear, lion, etc.) are pretty typical, to appeal to young kids (ages 3 to 8).  The best feature is the simple yet creatively arranged photographs of each animal.  Check out the photos of the orangutan – it looks as if she’s dancing. The photographer does suggest that they were dancing as he took his shots.  You will learn a few basic things about each featured animal and enjoy it very much, while doing so.


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