CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2006
Bright and colourful eye-catching covers will entice beginning researchers to open these books which are part of the “Nature’s Changes” series. Each book is comprised of 14 or 15 chapters as well as a table of contents, a glossary and an index. The large-sized text provides up to the minute information in rather short sentences with simple explanations of the concepts. Though the layout in the series is similar, neither the reading level of the titles nor the level of understanding required by the reader seems to be consistent. For example, the vocabulary and the concepts covered in The Water Cycle are much more complex than those of Animal Life Cycles. The series’ greatest strength lies in the outstanding photographs, maps and diagrams which enhance the text.
Changing Weather: Storms begins with an explanation of the relationship between the water cycle and weather. Topics in this book include the various types of storms- both summer and winter- cloud formation, different types of precipitation, and the effects of wind. There is reference to the devastating hurricanes of 2005, Rita and Katrina, along with information about the work of a meteorologist and how global warming is changing weather patterns all over the world.
The Water Cycle features the three states of matter, types of clouds, plants’ contribution to the water cycle, and terms such as humidity, condensation, dew point, soil moisture, saturation and runoff. Readers will learn how precipitation forms, how water gets from the soil to rivers and streams, and the differences between fresh and salt water. Water pollution, its causes and prevention, are also discussed. The book ends with recitations about the importance of water to all living things.
Of all the titles reviewed, Animal Life Cycles is the most juvenile. It covers the life cycles of a variety of animals from the major animal classifications. Following a brief description of how animals are either born or hatched from eggs, the remainder of the text is devoted to specific life cycles. The mammal group is represented by a raccoon, a koala, a humpback whale and a monk seal, each of their life cycles slightly different despite the fact that they all belong to the same general group. Other life cycles featured include those of an oriole, a snake, a Komodo dragon, a sea horse, a frog, a ladybug, a grasshopper, a spider and an earthworm. There is a quiz at the back of the book (answers are provided), along with a list of several Kalman books about the life cycles of specific animals.
Plants in Different Habitats begins with the definition of a plant, a diagram of a plant’s parts and an explanation of photosynthesis. Double-page spreads show nine different habitats, ranging from the boreal forest and the desert to grasslands and Polar Regions. Crucial to plant survival in each of these habitats is a plant’s ability to adapt to its surroundings. Some examples are the needles of a conifer whose waxy coating keeps moisture in, rainforest plants whose roots spread sideways to absorb more water, and fire resistant trees. Readers will also learn how epiphytes, such as orchids, hang onto trees with just a few roots while the remainder of their roots spread out into the air to take in water. Finally, the book discusses the problems with introducing new species to native habitats, for instance, purple loosestrife, which crowds out native wetlands and kills the plants on which ducks and other wildlife feed. A game at the back of this book invites readers to match pictures of plants to their habitats. The photos in this title are particularly spectacular.
Generally, the books in this series serve as an overview of the topics covered, providing basic information without going into too much detail.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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