CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 29. . . .April 2, 2010.
Looking Closely Around the Pond. (Looking Closely).
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2010.
40 pp., hardcover, $16.95.
Pond plants-Juvenile literature.
Pond animals-Juvenile literature.
Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.
Review by Gillian Richardson.
Look very closely.
What do you see?
A hot dog?
A chocolate bar?
What could it be?
It’s a Common Cattail.
Cattails grow in groups along the edges of the pond. They can reach up to 3 m (10 ft.) high—that’s tall enough to hide a moose!
These plants are called cattails because their long, velvety seed heads look like cats’ tails. Birds pick the fluffy seeds and use them to line their nests. Ducks build their nests among cattail stems. The plants also make a good hiding place for fish, frogs and turtles.
Using his proficiency as a nature photographer, Frank Serafini has captured close-up images of pond life to create this fun challenge for young readers. Using his background as an educator, the book’s creator invites youngsters to “slow down” and try a “new way of seeing.” The book features a rhyming query along with each micro-view of a piece of a plant or animal and a couple of clues to imagine what it could be. Turn the page to reveal the whole image of a box turtle, shubunkin [goldfish], mallard, dragonfly, water lily, tadpole, cattail, tiger salamander or algae. A few basic facts about each example will arouse a child’s interest and curiosity about pond life. Learn about the life cycle changes of the dragonfly from nymph to adult, for instance, and the way water lilies are anchored in a pond. This book is part of the “Looking Closely” series of picture books that focus on nature topics.
The repetitive pattern, rhyme and generous size of colorful images will attract young readers and encourage them to ponder the mystery offered in each case. The more-than-full page photos are appealing enough to invite detailed study and perhaps to inspire children to ‘look closely’ during their next pond visit. The book will be a fine way to introduce children to the fascinations of the natural world around them and engender respect for its wonders.
Gillian Richardson, a freelance writer, lives in BC.
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