CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 7 . . . . November 29, 2002
Bobbie Kalman and her team at Crabtree Publishing continue to produce nonfiction series for schools covering a wide range of topics in the curriculum. For elementary readers, “The Life Cycle Series” is an informative, accessible collection examining various animals and the trees (10 books so far in the series). The straightforward writing style is presented in a 32 page format using an easy-to-read type size with more difficult vocabulary highlighted; some of the words are explained in the Glossary while others are defined in context, eg. "Poachers, or people who hunt illegally, kill lions to sell their claws and tails to tourists." Sidebars and boxes draw attention to unusual facts. The Index is brief but will serve as a good learning tool for beginning researchers. Each topic listed in the Table of Contents is shown on one double-page spread following a logical sequence, with bold subheadings set off in contrasting colour. The last couple of sections in each book deal with dangers or environmental threats to the animal/tree and ways people can help them.
Illustrations, both photos and drawings, include colour close-ups (especially effective in The Life Cycle of a Spider) and are used liberally. The pages are attractively bordered with miniature figures of the book's subject. Each book in the series contains a simple life cycle chart complete with clear explanation.
A couple of inaccuracies (by omission) were noticed. There is no mention in The Life Cycle of a Lion of the North American cougar, a cat many children know as the mountain lion and which belongs to the same family, felidae. The book does mention leopards and tigers but states that, "There are two species, or types, of lions: African and Asiatic." Secondly, in The Life Cycle of a Wolf, the fox (also canidae) is not included in the family list of "....coyotes, jackals and domestic, or pet, dogs."
Although there are numerous books available on the popular topics chosen for this series, most library shelves will have space for well-presented additions such as these for younger readers or for use as an overview of the topics for more capable readers.
Gillian Richardson, a former teacher-librarian and a published children's writer of fiction and nonfiction, lives in BC.
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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.