DISCOVERING SPIDERS, SNAILS AND OTHER CREEPY CRAWLIES
Reviewed by Peter Croskery
Reviewed by Peter Croskery
Volume 20 Number 5
Both A Toothy Tongue and One Long Foot and Discovering Spiders, Snails and Other Creepy Crawlies are activity books for children.
Designed for a young reading child (ages eight to eleven), they attempt to take a child's natural curiosity about the outdoors and add to a child's knowledge.
The two books take a very different approach in terms of format. Brillon's book has five principal sections, each dealing with an invertebrate group (annelids, molluscs, arachnids, myriapods and crustaceans). The format for each section is standardized: general information on the group, identification chart for a representative species, and activities.
Swanson has organized her book by season. Therefore, her activities are not limited to certain specific natural history groups. This is clearly reflected in the broad range of activity themes presented: soil, water, wind, birds, earthworms, flowers, trees, etc.
In reading the two books together, I preferred the Brillon approach. It seemed to build upon knowledge possessed and knowledge gained through preceding activities. Young children always seem to want to know more about things they find interesting. It would seem that just as you've "whetted their appetite" Swanson's book changes themes. The advantage of the Swanson book with its seasonal approach is that many activities would work during the school year. Brillon's material is more strongly limited to summer.
From a production standpoint, I preferred Brillon's book. The illustrations are "entertaining" and the activities are explained in a general way.
Swanson's activities are presented in numerical stepwise order, more like "instructions" (something many children feel they have to rebel against). The illustrations are slightly more illustrative of the activities but lack the "charm" of Brillon's book. And my biggest complaint is with the physical shape of the Swanson book. It's wider than tall, a format that is uncomfortable to hold when reading (you have to hold your hands unnaturally far apart).
Neither book is an outstanding contribution to children's environmental literature. Both have charm and lots of activities for children to do alone, and are reasonably priced.
Peter Croskery is a freelance writer and former biologist in Grimsby, Ontario
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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