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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spiked Scorpions & Walking Whales, written by Claire Eamer. Annick Press, 2009. $9.95 ages 10 and up

"It seems odd that an animal as large as the blue whale would survive on such tiny creatures, but it makes sense. Swimming through a cloud of krill and straining them out of the water uses far less energy than hunting large animals, and almost everything in krill is food for a whale. You just have to be big enough to gulp huge amounts of water - and the blue whale is certainly big."

That's just one small bit of the accessible information shared with her attentive readers in this second informative and intriguing book, which follows on the success of Super Crocs and Monster Wings (Annick, 2008). It's a great read!

When water appeared on the earth it changed the development of many species. Its impact on Earth is far-reaching and quite astounding; all known life depends on water for existence. Beginning at the beginning, Claire Eamer describes earliest life on our planet. In succeeding chapters (seven in all) she shows how the species evolved. At the end of each chapter are two short adds information relating to the chapter's main idea, and the other is filled with 'fun fact' boxes that will astonish young readers...well, older ones, too!

Here's one: "Male humpback whales sing long, complicated songs that change every year. The songs sung by Australian whales are completely different from those sung by North Atlantic humpbacks."

I value her conversational style which made my understanding of the science easier and more enjoyable. She uses questions to encourage her readers to think about the world and then offers up so many fantastic facts that they will be in awe of what she has discovered during her research. The layout guides them to find new and interesting things on every page, while offering wide appeal. Background colors change with each chapter which helps for organization and a quick return to previously read text. Fun facts are printed on fuschia colored notebook paper, while additional information is backed by royal blue papers and covers the double page. Just a little touch that shows forethought and interest in design.

As with all good nonfiction for young readers, there is a table of contents, an index, additional reading suggestions and a list of web sites to check for further study.

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