Sunday, September 26, 2010
Lizards in the Sky, written by Claire Eamer. Annick, 2010. $12,95 ages 9 and up
"To air-breathers like us, the underwater world is as alien as the moon or Mars. We swim clumsily, frightening the fish. Without a supply of air, we can't spend more than a couple of minutes below the surface. We can't set up house there, or prepare a meal, or raise a family. But a few air-breathing animals have found surprising ways to live, forage, hunt or hide in the world of the fish."
Perhaps you know the animals that Claire Eamer is talking about...perhaps not. If not and you are interested in knowing more about them, you will have to find this book at your local library or bookstore and begin to fill your head with finding animals in places where you least expect them. It is fascinating and lots of fun!
While Earth is our home, this informed and informative author assures us that we cannot live in every part of it. Well, maybe with help, and a lot of it! Keeping warm is an issue in many parts of the world, and breathing can also be difficult, especially when three-quarters of our earth is covered in water. We need to live on land, have fresh water and food to sustain us. As we adapt to a variety of conditions, so do animals. To survive they have moved to a place of safety and made the changes needed. Take the American dipper: 'Flaps close over its nostrils when it dives, and transparent membranes slide across its eyes so that it can see underwater. An extra-thick down undercoat keeps the dipper warm, and waterproof oil from a large gland above its tail keeps it dry. Its blood can hold extra oxygen for its underwater hunting expeditions.' How is that for adaptation? And, we are only on page 11.
To say that the author has filled the rest of this intriguing and well-written nonfiction book with absorbing text, clear photography and a useful amount of back matter is an understatement. In clear captions, informative word bubbles, and highly accessible text, she takes us with her on a journey in the sea, on land, in arid deserts, in the sky, underground and to the ice and snow. It reads like a story and offers up more facts than you could recall, even after a second reading. So much to know and she gives us access to it. Unexpected and surprising are words that I would use to describe much of the information garnered in my first reading.
Following the lively and engaging treks to various parts of the world, she adds an appendix which provides the scientific names of the featured animals (all 36 of them), suggestions to encourage further reading, her own extensive bibliography, a useful index and acknowledgements.
Worthy of a place on your bookshelf, this book is exemplary in its content and will hold your interest for an enjoyable afternoon. Kids will love hearing about the many ways that animals have learned to adapt to the environment in which they find themselves. Well done!