________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 2 . . . .September 15, 2006


The Four Seasons: Uncovering Nature.

Annie Jones.
Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2006.
52 pp., cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 1-55407-137-2.

Subject Heading:
Seasons-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

*** /4



Animals and plants are aware of the passing seasons -- many have special adaptations that allow them to live more successfully in each season. They can tell that the seasons are changing because of the increasing or decreasing amount of light, as well as through changes in temperature. These signals trigger the production of hormones, which cause the animals to behave in ways appropriate to the season. For example, in spring they know they must find a partner and mate. In fall, many know they must migrate to warmer places.


In a brightly coloured format with four cleverly designed overlays, this book shows the seasonal changes that a variety of plants and animals undergo. Beginning with an explanation for the four distinct seasons that occur in temperate parts of the world, the book offers definitions of weather and climate, solstice and equinox, and briefly discusses possible reasons for climate change and particular weather events. A detailed account of changes through the seasons is shown using an oak tree, examples of animal adaptations, and frog and monarch metamorphoses. Each overlay illustration introduces one seasonal change which is supported by several pages of specific examples. "Winter to Spring" describes awakening life in the Himalayan Mountains, followed by a selection of ways creatures around the world behave in Spring: male rabbits fight for mates, humpback whales perform courtship dances, and male bowerbirds collect decorations to attract a female. The book continues in this pattern with information on nesting, raising young, pollination, migration and hibernation.

     The illustrations are clear, well-labelled and generously distributed throughout the book. In most cases, global location is made clear for each species used as an example as the illustrations on a single page generally show a mixture of habitats. The overlay depicting Fall to Winter, however, has some labelling problems which may be confusing to North American children using this book. Discrepancies, such as a moose listed as an elk, a great horned owl referred to by its Latin name (Virginian owl), and a wolverine given its alternate name 'glutton,' are understandable as the book is a European publication. However, a Stellers jay is misnamed Blue Jay, and the 'skunk' that rests on a tree branch looks suspiciously like a weasel. The American sparrow hawk is wrongly labelled; now called a Kestrel, it looks nothing like the bird pictured here, nor does the crossbill shown all in brown.

      Despite these few inaccuracies by the illustrators, the book is informative, attractively presented and thoroughly covers the topic of seasonal influences among the plants and animals in various habitats. It will answer many young readers' questions or give them a starting point for further investigation.

Highly Recommended.

A freelance writer living in BC, Gillian Richardson is a former teacher-librarian.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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