Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dinosaurs to dolphins: reptiles and fish.(Children's review)(Bookreview).

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When it comes to sharks, snakes, dinosaurs, and sea creatures, a cover illustration alone is often enough to capture the interest of young readers. A fish or reptile book that will succeed after it has been opened must have readable text that captures the wonder these creatures inspire. Dynamic illustrations, interplay of words and pictures, effective use of captions and fact boxes, and overall book design also affect enjoyment. These series examine some interesting animal groups. Each also endeavors to instill excitement and learning opportunities into the pages to build upon the intrinsic appeal of the subject matter.

JEFFREY, Gary. Elasmosaurus: The Long-Necked Swimmer. illus. by Terry Riley. ISBN 978-1-4358-2505-5. LC 2008003881.

--. Stegosaurus: The Plated Dinosaur. illus. by James Field. ISBN 978-1-4358-2503-1. LC 2007050587.

SHONE, Rob. Diplodocus: The Whip-Tailed Dinosaur. illus. by James Field. ISBN 978-1-4358-2504-8. LC 2008003924.

--. Giganotosaurus: The Giant Southern Lizard. illus. by Terry Riley. ISBN 978-1-4358-2502-4. LC 2008003265.

ea vol: 32p. (Graphic Dinosaurs Series). illus. photos. reprods. glossary. index. CIP. Rosen/ PowerKids Pr. Nov. 2008. PLB $25.25.

Gr 2-5--Action-packed episodes in a graphic-novel format introduce the life of a young dinosaur. Present-tense narration relates the reptile's experiences, many of which involve narrow escapes from deadly predators. Full-color paneled illustrations set the pace, accentuating drama with varied perspectives and effective page designs. Facts about dinosaurs and other creatures of the time come through unobtrusively. The narration is not too wordy and appropriately focuses on behavior and action, without personification. Basic facts about the featured dinosaur appear on the first couple of pages, but many readers will skip to the story and the eye-catching illustrations.

LUNIS, Natalie. Ocean Monsters. ISBN 978-1-59716-713-0. LC 2008010638.

--. Pet-Sized Dinos. ISBN 978-1-59716-710-9. LC 2008006174.

--. Savage Slashers. ISBN 978-1-59716-709-3. LC 2008004818.

--. Sky Terrors. ISBN 978-1-59716-714-7. LC 2008014265.

WHITE, Nancy. Giant-o-saurs. ISBN 978-1-59716-711-6. LC 2008014392.

ZIMMERMAN, Howard. Armored and Dangerous. ISBN 978-1-59716-712-3. LC 2008006171.

ea vol: 24p. (Dino Times Trivia Series). illus. map. photos. chron. further reading. glossary. index. CIP. Bearport. 2008. PLB $21.28.

Gr 1-3--Sensationalized titles and action-packed covers should draw interest to this well-conceived introduction to dinosaurs. A sentence or two offers a key fact about the animal with follow-up data in a brief question-and-answer format. In each volume, a size chart, a fact box, and the phonetic pronunciation of the name, along with its meaning, provide further basics. Each spread features an effective full-color painting of the dinosaur in action; most add a smaller illustration showing bones, spot details, or modern animal relatives. A handy map and time chart identify where and when each species lived, rounding out the well-organized presentation.

MATTERN, Joanne. Anacondas. ISBN 978-1-4296-1920-2. LC 2007051906.

--. Boa Constrictors. ISBN 978-1-4296-1922-6. LC 2007051890.

--. Copperheads. ISBN 978-1-4296-1925-7. LC 2007051905.

--. Rattlesnakes. ISBN 978-1-4296-1926-4. LC 2007051902.

WALLACH, Van. Cobras. ISBN 978-1-4296-1923-3. LC 2007052038.

--. Garter Snakes. ISBN 978-1-4296-1924-0. LC 2007051904.

ea vol: 24p. (Snakes Series). map. photos. further reading. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. Capstone. 2008. PLB $21.26.

Gr 2-4--This set does a solid job of covering fundamental facts about snakes. Clear prose describes physical features, environments, and behaviors in a way that is easy to follow. Several "Fun Fact" text boxes add extra information and glossary definitions appear at the bottom of the page where the term is used, a nice feature for younger readers. Color photographs illustrate a variety of species within the general group, though usually without captions for specific identification. Each book includes a baby snake scene, a close-up of the head showing key features, and at least one impressive view of a snake swallowing its prey.

MORGAN, Sally. Clown Fish and Other Coral Reef Life. ISBN 978-1-59566-566-9. LC 2008010033.

--. Hermit Crabs and Other Shallow-Water Life. ISBN 978-1-59566-569-0. LC 2008010036.

--. Orcas and Other Cold-Ocean Life. ISBN 978-1-59566-567-6. LC 2008010037.

--. Sperm Whales and Other Deep-Water Life. ISBN 978-1-59566-568-3. LC 2008011386.

ea vol: 24p. (Under the Sea Series). photos. glossary. index. CIP. QEB. 2008. PLB $24.25.

Gr 2-4--Each of eight animals appears in a large-format, captioned photograph that fills a spread. Additional photographs appear in inset circles, neatly highlighting especially interesting physical features, such as the teeth in a giant squid's suckers. Two large-print paragraphs provide basic physical descriptions and point out intriguing behaviors. Some page headings, like "Garibaldi Fish," are much more specific than others, such as "Seals," and a couple of pictures don't match up perfectly with the text, but for the most part this is a dynamic introduction to some fascinating marine animals.

NUZZOLO, Deborah. Bull Shark. ISBN 978-1-4296-1726-0. LC 2007051310.

--. Great White Shark. ISBN 978-1-4296-1727-7. LC 2007051312.

--. Hammerhead Shark. ISBN 978-1-4296-1728-4. LC 2007051245.

--. Mako Shark. ISBN 978-1-4296-1729-1. LC 2007051335.

--. Tiger Shark. ISBN 978-1-4296-1730-7. LC 2007051337.

--. Whale Shark. ISBN 978-1-4296-1731-4. LC 2007051314.

ea vol: 24p. (Sharks Series). photos. further reading. glossary. index. Web sites. CIP. Capstone/Pebble Plus. 2008. PLB $21.27.

K-Gr 2--This set features easy-to-read, repetitive text aimed at new readers. One or two sentences per page introduce the most basic facts about sharks, briefly covering physical features, birth and growth, and food. Full-page photographs show the fish in their undersea environment. The texts are occasionally too vague to be useful, and some of the visuals are fairly routine. Other photos, however, give helpful visual references to verbal descriptions, such as the tiny teeth of the whale shark. Though not perfect, the series fills a need for high-interest nonfiction materials at the easiest reading levels.


The popularity of the animals featured in these series makes them all worth considering for purchase, though they take varied approaches. The simple language of "Sharks" may be unexciting, but it's accessible to beginners, and the topic alone generates enthusiasm. "Snakes" provides more information within a well-organized structure that works nicely for slightly older readers. Both series feature photographs that are generally effective, but not exceptional. "Dino Times Trivia" uses a balanced combination of paintings, fact boxes, and interactive text for a slightly more lively presentation, while "Graphic Dinosaurs" demonstrates the strong potential of the graphic-novel format for informational books on a high-interest topic. "Under the Sea" offers basic information, but stands out through the inviting design and well-chosen photos that will add to readers' learning experiences.

Reviewed by Steven Engelfried, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR

Named Works: Elasmosaurus: The Long-Necked Swimmer (Graphic novel) Book reviews; Stegosaurus: The Plated Dinosaur (Graphic novel) Book reviews; Diplodocus: The Whip-Tailed Dinosaur (Graphic novel) Book reviews; Giganotosaurus: The Giant Southern Lizard (Graphic novel) Book reviews

Source Citation
Engelfried, Steven. "Dinosaurs to dolphins: reptiles and fish." School Library Journal 54.11 (2008): S20+. General OneFile. Web. 29 Sept. 2010.
Document URL

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