________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 9. . . .October 29, 2010


Lizards in the Sky: Animals Where You Least Expect Them.

Claire Eamer.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2010.
97 pp., pbk. & hc., $12.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-264-5 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-1-55451-265-2 (hc.).

Subject Heading:
Animals-Adaption-Juvenile literature.

Grade 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Nicole Dalmer.

***1/2 / 4



Snow-covered glaciers look even more bleak and lifeless than snow-covered field and forests. You wouldn’t expect to find much life high in the mountains where the snow and ice of centuries fill entire valleys. And probably the last thing you’d expect is a worm.

But worms live even there. On mountain glaciers along the western coast of North America, from Oregon to southern Alaska, you can find tiny worms called glacier ice worms. Their scientific name is Mesenchytraeus solifugus (mez-enkih TRAY-us saw-lih FEW-gus), and they’re so small that three or four of them could fit end to end under their name. When they come to the surface, they look like bits of black string discarded on the snow.

Like their larger relatives the earthworms, glacier ice worms don’t like direct sunlight. They come to the surface in the evening to graze on snow algae and miscroscopic organisms. When dawn comes, they burrow far beneath the snow, or retreat to meltwater pools and streams where the water protects them from sunlight.

With playful fonts and quirky illustrations, Claire Eamer has created a whimsical book of facts about lesser-known animals for the budding young naturalist. Full-colour photographs in combination with animal illustrations from Alice in Wonderland combine to effectively describe the habitats, eating preferences, means of locomotion and other interesting tidbits of 36 animals.

     The work is neatly divided into six chapters based on the animal’s preferred habitat, and readers are first given a general introduction of the advantages and inconveniences of the animal’s surrounding habitat (ice, water, air, etc.). Questions are then posed to the readers, allowing them to ponder the potential adaptations the animals presented in that chapter may possess. Each animal is then presented and described in succession in conjunction with interesting factoids that are sprinkled throughout each chapter.

internal artEamer has successfully balanced playful with informative: a great deal of information is available for students to digest, but the manner in which it is presented creates a much more casual and enjoyable reading experience. A well-balanced ratio of text to illustrations (both outstanding, full-colour photographs and retro illustrations) is maintained throughout the 97 pages. Though implementing a variety of font colours, sizes and styles can potentially create a rather muddled reading experience, in the case of Lizards in the Sky, these stylistic layout choices lend themselves to creating an aesthetically pleasing experience.

     Lizards in the Sky features a variety of animals of all shapes and sizes, most of which are likely unheard of for the average student. The barreleye, the colugo and the olm are just a sampling of the exotic animals discussed. To ensure that students are able to truly understand that which they are reading (particularly in order to effectively relay the size, colour or locomotive style of these sometimes rather bizarre animals), the author frequently makes comparisons to other animals students are more likely to be familiar with, thus providing a reference point readers can relate to. Sentences vary in their formality; at times, sentences are rather simple, and, at times, they are infused with more technical terminologies though never unnecessarily complicated. For those wishing to increase their knowledge on the presented topics, there is an appendix of scientific names of featured animals as well as a list of suggestions for further readings.

     A variety of animals presented in such diverse environments creates a solid overview of the adaptations animals have made to survive and thrive in varying climates. Lizards in the Sky: Animals Where You Least Expect Them would make an excellent and highly engaging addition to any school or personal library.

Highly Recommended.

Nicole Dalmer is a first-year student in the MLIS program at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, AB.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.