CM . . . .
Volume V Number 12 . . . . February 12, 1999
A killer whale leaps high into the air while breaching in Alaskan waters. The whale may twist and turn before it falls back to the surface with a resounding splash. Look at the killer whale's broad paddle-shaped flippers. The size and shape of the flippers and the dorsal fin mark this specimen as a male.Part of the "Nature Watch Series," this is an informative and colourful guide to whales and dolphins. Over 180 photographs illustrate the 29 sections, each a two page spread. A variety of topics, from whale order, sounds and songs, feeding habits, migration, to fellow travellers, are covered.
Each two page spread begins with a page number and topic in vertical style in the upper left hand of the page. This is an excellent addition for young children to assist in understanding the organization of material. Headings are in larger, darker print, and subheadings are also slightly larger and darker than the text. For example, "Whale Bodies" is the topic of pages 10 and 11. Subheadings include "Big Mouth," "Jonah and the Whale," "Lousy Whales," "Leaping Dolphins," "Hangers On" and "Body Lines." Subheadings add a variety of information and interest to the various topics.
Each two page-spread contains a "Did you know?" one liner written in a circular or shaped format which provides added information for the interest of the reader. For example, on the "Whales Bodies" pages, the "Did you know?" is "Whales have whiskers on their faces." Other additions include a relative size chart on the "Whales Large and Small" page, a map on "Migration," a bar graph on the Decline of Whale Populations on "Whale Conservation" and a "Whale Myth" section.
The photographs are very effective, both in adding information and for visual effect. The pages are well laid out so that readers can enjoy the book at a variety of levels and a multitude of readings. The language is very suitable for the intended readership. The author has included a two page glossary with short phrases suitable for younger readers. A detailed index is also included which makes this book an excellent choice for research and study both at school and home.
Deborah Mervold is a teacher-librarian in a grade 6 to 12 school and a grade 12 English teacher at Shellbrook Composite High School in Saskatchewan.
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