________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 13 . . . . February 26, 1999

cover Rainforest Birds. (Birds Up Close series).

Bobbie Kalman.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON: Crabtree Publishing, 1998.
32 pp., $22.95 (cloth), $7.16 (paper).
ISBN 0-86505-753-2 (cloth), ISBN 0-86595-767-2 (paper).

Subject Heading:
Rainforest birds-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2 - 8 / Ages 7 - 13.
Review by Bob Piper.

*** /4

If you are looking for a book to help young people discover facts and colourful pictures of rainforest birds, this is a very useful source. With its "Words to know" (glossary) and a somewhat detailed index, Rainforest Birds provide readers with insights into a great variety of birds of the jungle.

      Unfortunately, the index is "spotty" in its efforts to lead the reader to certain types of birds. It is quite possible that young readers would have difficulty finding any information on "Motmots" or on "Ocellated turkeys" in other sources. A glance at the index to this book would not satisfy a reader, as the editors have chosen NOT to include these birds, even though they are referred to in the text. Only by browsing through the book could the reader hope to find the information on these two birds.

      Another disturbing technicality is the use of highlighted words throughout the text. Although there is no explanation of why some words are highlighted, there appears to be some link to the glossary; however, this is not always so. The writers and editors have chosen, on several occasions, to define terms within the paragraph, or parenthetically, so there is no need for a glossary entry. Other terms, undefined in text, may be highlighted, but they do not appear in the glossary either, and, hence, are left entirely undefined. For example, the word "lek" appears (highlighted) on page 11 and is referred to in the text as an "area." Readers hoping to find some further definition in the glossary arrive at a dead end as the word does not appear there. Incidentally, "lek" is not included in the index.

      Besides the inherent confusion in the use of the index and glossary, there is a disturbing inconsistency in the way singular and plural antecedents are mixed in some sentences. For example, on page 13, the writer uses "sunbirds have a thin, tubelike beak ..." This might have been more clearly stated by using the singular "A sunbird has a ... beak", or the plural, "Sunbirds have ... beaks." Mixing singular and plural antecedents is confusing and provides a poor model for young readers. Another example, on p. 21, states, "Kingfishers grab a fish with their beak." It seems to mean that several different kingfishers grab several different fish using several different beaks, but that is not what it says. Even a chapter title illustrates this "agreement" problem; "Losing their home," on page 30 introduces a paragraph which outlines how many species are losing their "homes." In fact, on page 31, a sentence reads, "When a rainforest is cut down, all the animals and birds living in it lose their homes, ...". This is quite correctly stated, a clear indication that there are inconsistencies of expression. (This type of inconsistency appeared in the other two books in this series which this reviewer studied Raptors and Marine Birds.)

      The reviewer was unable to determine why the editors chose to highlight the first letter of several words in the index. Despite the technical shortcomings of this book, its content warrants its inclusion in any library serving elementary school children.


Bob Piper is a semi-retired teacher-librarian who lives 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