CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 14. . . .March 6, 2009
Piranhas and Other Small Deadly Creatures. (Crabtree Contact).
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $10.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3792-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3770-4 (RLB).
Dangerous animals-Juvenile literature.
Poisonous animals-Juvenile literature.
Grades 2-6 / Ages 7-11.
Review by Margaret Snow.
Tom William Jackson has added another engaging high-interest low-vocab book to the "Crabtree Contact" series which is sure to capture the attention of many reluctant readers. In this book, a two-page spread of very basic information is dedicated to not only piranha, but also the tsetse fly, box jellyfish, Irukandji jellyfish, poison pufferfish, stonefish, blue-ringed octopus, golden poison dart frog, cone shell snails, Sydney funnel-web spider and the insect responsible for the most deaths... the mosquito. Black backgrounds on the pages add to the foreboding nature of the text.
Jackson, a leading author of natural history and science books, graduated with a degree in zoology from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. He has worked in British zoos and has been involved in wildlife conservation programs in Vietnam and Zimbabwe. As a travel writer, Jackson has observed wildlife in the Amazon, the Sahara, the East African savannah and the Galápagos Islands. Nearly 50 of Jackson's books have been published to date, and he has contributed to many more.
Most of the key ingredients one discusses when teaching children the text features of nonfiction: table of content, beautiful colour photos, text boxes, labelled diagrams, glossary, web addresses for more information and an index. When I shared this book with students, they appreciated that important anecdotes on a remedy, should you fall victim to one of these species, were enclosed in orange text boxes.
The three recommended websites worked well and contained a "test your knowledge" quiz, videos, photos and more to further the child's quest for information.
Some myths and legends are explained briefly. For example:
On the Caribbean island of Haiti, some people believe pufferfish poison is used by sorcerers.
They believe sorcerers use the poison to turn people into zombies - the walking dead!
If a person was fed a small amount of pufferfish poison, it could paralyze him or her.
The person would not be able to move. The person's heartbeat would almost stop.
The person would seem dead - even to a doctor.
The victim might even be buried in a grave.
But then the poison would wear off. The person might climb out of the grave.
He or she would seem to be...
...the walking dead!
The cover draws the attention of the student, and the volume's limited amount of text is nonthreatening for students with basic reading skills. Piranhas and Other Small Deadly Creatures certainly has its place with the target audience of reluctant readers.
Margaret Snow is a teacher-librarian and literacy teacher in a small, rural school in Southwestern Ontario.
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