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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Face to Face with Frogs, written by Mark Moffett. National Geographic, Random House. 2010. $7.95 ages 4 and up

"I had to lie on the ground with my camera only two inches away from the terribilis frog to take her picture. Compared to most frogs, she was curious, showing little fear. If you are deadly, you don't have much to be frightened of. Sometimes she hopped toward me, but I couldn't allow her to touch my skin. It was strange to be scared of such a pretty frog!"

Mark Moffett makes this wonderful book sound like a conversation with his readers. It is filled with his delight at the work that he does, and with stories of adventures he has had all over the world doing that work. Mark is a herpetologist. That means that he studies reptiles and amphibians and he will go to any length to gather information and accurate, amazing photographs of those creatures that he loves.

He works with other dedicated researchers and guides to do the work that allows his audience to get this close-up look at many of the frogs that inhabit our world...more than 5400 kinds and only 104 live in the United States. That being said, travel obviously plays a big part in his research...Vietnam, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Cameroon to name a few.

The fully captioned clear and colorful photographs provide much information about the discoveries he has made. He also includes bulleted sidebars with tidbits that focus on a variety of subjects. One cites the differences between frogs and toads, another the jumping ability and still another, its ability to sing. There is so much to learn about them and the learning is done in such an easy and casual way. Kids will be thrilled to share this excellent book, poring over its many detailed photos and in awe of the stories Mark Moffett has to tell:

"On Taboga Island in Panama, there are many green-and-black dart frogs and many tarantulas. Most of the time, they seem to avoid each other. Every once in a while, I saw a tarantula foaming at the mouth, apparently dying from having accidentally bitten a dart frog."

He finishes by telling his readers of the ways that they can help by preserving natural spaces, conserving resources, keeping current by reading about frogs, and by contributing to organizations that work to protect them. It is often a child who takes the first step in getting a family working toward such projects. Moffett also provides a page of information on becoming a frog researcher, plus additional information in a 'facts at a glance' summary, a glossary, a list of books and websites where more can be found and finally, an index so that readers can go right back to what they found most fascinating in their first go!

What a great book!

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