________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 12 . . . . February 12, 1999

cover Marine Birds. (Birds Up Close series).

Bobbie Kalman.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON: Crabtree Publishing, 1998.
32 pp., cloth, $22.95, paper $7.95.
ISBN 0-86505-752-4 (cloth), 1-86505-766-4 (paper).

Subject Heading:
Sea birds-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3 - 8 / Ages 8 - 13.
Review by Bob Piper.

*** /4

The young researcher looking for pictures of and information about albatrosses, boobies, cormorants, gannets, pelicans, penguins and puffins will be delighted to use this source. Colourful photos and detailed descriptions come together to introduce the eating habits, and the breeding, nesting and survival techniques of birds that live on, in, or near salt water. A team of some 15 editors, writers, consultants, illustrators and photographers have collaborated to produce Marine Birds, one of the titles in the "Birds Up Close" series.

      Although the content is quite useful, there are some discrepancies in the way the mechanics of the presentation are handled. The index, for example, leaves much to be desired as a really useful "tool" for accessing information and/or pictures included in the body of the book. A reader looking for a "willet" would be disappointed by the lack of reference in the index, but a browse through the book would happily reveal a beautiful photograph of a willet on page 5. Similarly, a seeker of information on the family of seabirds known as "tubenoses" would be frustrated by looking at the index, as the editors missed indexing a half-page article and photo on page 7. Interestingly, the word "fulmar" warrants two points of reference in the index, and yet it appears only as a single word in text on each occasion, with no supporting material to explain the term.

      Another somewhat disturbing feature of this book, and one which recurs in the other two books in this series which this reviewer studied (Raptors and Rainforest Birds), is the inconsistent 'agreement' of some nouns and pronouns and their antecedents. On page 6, a sentence quite correctly reads, "They have special legs, feet and bills." On page 7, the sentence "All birds have a beak" appears. The antecedent of the plural 'birds' should be 'beaks' or 'bills', not the singular 'beak'. Even in the headline "Ruining their habitat" (p. 30), the plural 'their' is combined with the singular 'habitat' while the text refers to many 'habitats' which are being destroyed.

      Inconsistencies in the use of highlighted words in the text and highlighting the first letters of some words in the index offer some confusion to the reader, as there is no explanation of why highlighting is used as an editorial technique. There does seem to be a link between some of the highlighted terms and the terms which have been chosen for inclusion in the glossary, but it is not consistent.

      Despite these technical shortcomings, this book is certainly worth including in any science collection serving elementary school-age children.


Bob Piper is a semi-retired teacher-librarian living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364