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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Face to Face with Penguins, by Yva Momatiuk and John Eastcott. National Geographic, Random House. 2009. $21.95 ages 6 and up

"I stayed there listening to them. They sounded like brass trumpets and buzzing bees. Suddenly, something touched my back. I held my breath and felt a pair of soft feet climbing on top of my body and walking around, exploring the new blue object on the beach. The penguin soon hopped off and waddled away, its curiosity satisfied."

This lively and entertaining book about the penguins of Antarctica was my introduction to National Geographic's FACE TO FACE series. Now, I can look forward to others, with plans to tell you about them at some later date.

A husband and wife team, armed with curiosity, love of nature and refined photographic skills, embark on a dream trip to South Georgia, 1400 km from the coast of Antarctica, to come face to face with the waddling, tuxedoed inhabitants of this cold and beautiful island. Armed with cameras and an abiding interest in learning as much as they can in their time there, Yva and John share their story in accessible text and telling photos. The informative captions give insight into the daily life of the many species of penguins who inhabit this part of the world. The 'foot'notes provide further fascinating facts about flight, communication and poop. There is so much to remember from the reading; having the book for a return visit just adds to the pleasure.

Not content to tell us what they have learned about these curious, welcoming creatures, this team offers up a dish of concern for their safety and continued existence. A concerted effort must be made by concerned citizens to ensure their survival. They are affected by the dwindling ice cap, oil drilling and spills, and the many ways in which their environment is changing. We can help!

As in all good nonfiction the back matter is important to the impact of the book. There are facts at a glance, a glossary, further learning suggestions and an index that will return the reader to what is of most interest.

National Geographic's reputation for stellar scientific works is intact with the publication of this wonderful series for children, their parents, teachers and families.

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