CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 15 . . . . March 16, 2007
How Animals Eat is a revised edition adapted from the book Animals Eating by Pamela Hickman. Hickman is a noted writer of nonfiction children's books on flora and fauna. The present book has eight sections: Time to eat!; Food from nature; Many mouths; Pass the plants, please; Meat on the menu; Waste not, want not; Feeling thirsty?; and Living on liquids. The first is an introduction to the book's topic. The book has no index or concluding page, both of which would have been assets.
How Animals Eat is aimed at young, independent readers. The print is large and double spaced, and the pages are not crowded. Hickman often relates facts to something likely known in the readers' lives. For example, "The anteater has a tongue that is shaped like a worm." Then the illustration shows the anteater with its tongue out, and the tongue looks like a worm. Each section has a two-page illustration at the start, and the animal featured has a boxed "If you were..." section which contains a few facts about the animal. The animals appearing in the book range from those likely familiar to the reader to others that they may not know.
The illustrations by Pat Stephens appear to be watercolours. They are detailed and make the text come alive. For example, the close-up of the turkey vulture's large head shows the red-rimmed eye socket and the hooked beak, while a full picture of the vulture appears on a branch on the next page. The large, jawless mouth of the lamprey is something to behold. Another example that will catch the reader's attention is the python swallowing an entire deer. There are more than 30 animal illustrations.
Page seven's title asks "Who eats what?" Then there are pictures of a male mosquito, heron, osprey, female mosquito, dragonfly, bee fly, water lily, moose, fish, frog, arrowhead, and pickerel weed. The reader is to guess what each of these animals eats. Answers are found on the last page of the book. This type of interaction between the reader(s) and the text should add to the book's appeal. However, in my view it does not. It is the only page of this type and is more of an interruption of the text's flow than an asset. If there were other similar pages, then page seven would have more purpose. On the other hand, this page could be a stepping stone for a teacher to use to facilitate discussion with students in a class or small group.
The book would enhance science and language arts curricula.
Jeannette Timmerman is a former teacher, consultant and administrator in The Winnipeg (MB) School Division.
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