CM . . .
. Volume XV Number 3. . . .September 26, 2008
The "It's Fun to Learn About Baby Animals" series, written by Crabtree publisher Bobbie Kalman, will appeal to young children who are fascinated with animals and who are empathetic to youngsters of any species. Generally, the books provide basic information that early independent readers and researchers will be able to absorb and use as a basis for further learning.
Each book has 24 pages, with 10 two-page chapter spreads. A visual index/glossary is found on the last page. Several sentences about the chapter topic are presented in a large, undecorated font. Informative captions are in a slightly smaller, italicized font. There are bright pictures and/or drawings on all pages – different types of each cute baby animal keep the eye busy.
Every sentence counts in such a short information book. In Baby Birds, the chapter entitled 'Bird bodies' explains that birds have hollow bones to make them light enough to fly. But in the other books in this series, the chapters devoted to their bodies show the animals' skeletons but offer no insight as to what makes their bone structure unique or helpful to the specific animal's survival. The topic of life cycle is not clearly explained, either. For example: "Cats go through a set of changes called a life cycle" is not accurate. All species, vertebrate or invertebrate, go through a life cycle. It's wrong to attribute this term to the specific animal being discussed. More precisely, the chapter should have explained what a life cycle is and then discussed a cat's life cycle. There is other unnecessarily vague information as well. In Baby Deer, the chapter 'All about antlers' explains that male deer, bucks, grow antlers. Since this is a book about young deer, readers should be informed at what stage in its life cycle a buck will grow antlers. The southern pudu is identified as the smallest kind of deer, but Kalman does not tell the reader where it lives. One assumes this book will be read by North American children. Is the southern pudu from the southern part of North America? In fact, it lives in Chile – information that could easily have been included. There are other examples of incomplete explanations. Hopefully, children will be able to intuit facts despite these and other inaccuracies, or use these books as springboards to finding more information. The bright pictures and the easy readability level will make this series popular in a library and useful for children doing beginning research projects.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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