CM . . . .
Volume V Number 11 . . . . January 29, 1999
Grasslands are found in regions where there is some rain, but not enough for trees to grow. In North America these grasslands are called the prairies. Much of this land is now used for farming, but some prairie animals have managed to survive. Many burrow to shelter from predators, the summer heat, and stormy winters. One of the most typical prairie animals is the black-tailed prairie dog, which lives in networks of tunnels like underground towns.Readers will be amazed at the myriad of animals whose burrowing habits are revealed in this fascinating book. Five different habitats from around the world - woodland, Arctic, forest floor, prairies and desert - are explored, each one introduced by a general paragraph and followed by information about the specific animals which live there. Both structural and behavioral adaptations of the burrows' inhabitants are discussed.
Though maps and a few photographs are included, the book's strength lies in its absolutely glorious lifelike art illustrations. Each page boasts a wealth of illustrations, some of which appear on fold-out sections depicting the underground landscape of nests, burrows and tunnels. Summer habitats change to winter by means of a simple flip-up panel, while cut-out holes in the stiff paper pages help readers to view the hidden lives of burrowing animals, many of which are not well-known. Several cross-sections show the various chambers in the burrows and the tunnels which offer their dwellers escape routes from predators. A die-cut cover affords readers a sneak preview of the book's format.
Though the illustrations clearly steal the show because of their realism, the text, nevertheless, has much to offer. The author has condensed the information into the most interesting facts - fascinating details about the body parts or habits which enable specific animals to survive. Text font is simple and fairly large. Sentences in a variety of lengths are written in kids' language.
Younger readers will love the book's format. Older children might find it a bit childish, but there is plenty of information inside that will sustain their interest. It seems that every time the book is opened, readers notice something new. A wonderful gift book.
Gail Hamilton is the teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School, East St. Paul, Manitoba.
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