________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 25. . . .March 4th, 2011.


Backyard Heroes. (Crabtree Connections).

Rufus Bellamy.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2011.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $7.95 (pbk.), $18.36 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-9975-7 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-9953-5 (RLB.).

Subject Heading:
Garden animals-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Natalie Schembri.

*** /4



Backyards, parks, and even schoolyards are full of amazing animals and plants doing amazing things. In this book you'll get to meet some of the wildlife "action heroes" that live near your home. .

From the leaves on trees to the grass on the lawn, backyards are full of greenery. All these green plants can do something amazing. They can make their own food.

Rufus Bellamy's nonfiction children's book, Backyard Heroes, presents an informative array of facts and observations about the natural world. This Crabtree publication effectively organizes its contents into clever categories, such as "Marvelous Munchers" and "Hungry Hunters," for efficient and effective child-friendly and fun-filled navigation. Bellamy's text also contains valuable Glossary, Index, and Further Information sections for young readers to refer to and better inform their nonfiction reading experience. Children can consult the glossary in order to define the bolded backyard terminology throughout the text, words such as chlorophyll, fungi, and migration. The "Further Information" aspect of the text, an excellent educational resource, notes other web sites and books for children, teachers, and librarians to navigate for additional information about other birds, animals, and insects of interest in the backyard.

     To effectively engage young readers in the reading experience, Backyard Heroes uses large, bubbly, and bolded typeface. The page layout is colorful and captivating. The layout is extremely engaging because it mixes text and imagery through an eye-catching page distribution. Throughout the text, Backyard Heroes uses bold graphics and photographs of birds, insects, animals and plant life in their natural environment. Bellamy also provides an interesting fact section, labeled the "Nature Note," that highlights curious facts about birds, trees, squirrels, spiders, flowers, and more. Further, images are labeled with interesting facts that describe the natural behavior of the animal, insect, or plant represented. For example, Bellamy notes the metamorphic transformation of the pupa into the butterfly in a beautiful image about growing and changing animals.

     Backyard Heroes provides young children with a vast array of insight about their natural world. The birds, bunnies, and bees described in this lively illustrated text provide children with an informative go-to source to learn about their backyard adventures. This title speaks beyond the information provided by telling an illustrated story about everyday backyard heroes.

     I would highly recommend this book for school and public library collections. The information is easily accessible for young readers to decipher, the imagery is visually appealing, and the text inspires a pleasurable read. Teachers and librarians can use this book to enhance children's educational curriculum about the natural world. Children will eagerly learn about the marvelous rabbit muncher and the hungry spider hunter in Bellamy's fun-filled backyard reading adventure.

Highly Recommended.

Natalie Schembri, a Masters student living in London, ON, enjoys watching the tree leaves turn red, yellow, and orange in autumn. The trees are her favorite of the backyard heroes.

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

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