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Monday, January 3, 2011

Nic Bishop's Lizards, written and photographed by Nic Bishop. Scholastic, 2010. $22.99 ages 4 and up

"Unlike a mammal, a lizard does
not have parents who protect it and
teach it what to do. This can make
growing up tough. A little lizard has
enemies to watch out for and lessons
to learn. But if it stays safe, a lizard
may live for five, ten, or even twenty

I just spent an hour reading Nic Bishop's Book Notes on his incredibly informative Everytime I go there I find myself fascinated by the committment he has and the time it takes to get the remarkable photographic images that he does. There were so many 'bits' that I wanted to add to this post that I finally had to just stop and say: 'tell them about the website'. Consider yourselves told! Be sure to make time for a prolonged visit. You will not be sorry you did!

After poring over this book and learning (and seeing close-up) so much about the lizards of the world, I just might have acquired some of the same knowledge that was so obviously David Weisner's as he worked on the magnificent illustrations for Art & Max. He knew his lizards, too. It makes me wonder if each knows the other's work.  I hope that they do!

Am I again impressed? Indeed, I am! That Nic Bishop is quite the amazing chronicler of the natural world, and this book is an outstanding addition to his growing list of remarkable nonfiction. A turn of the page brings new wonder and holds the reader's interest until every word is read and each image carefully studied. The text is accessible to young readers and explains the variation in size, appearance and talents of the lizard world. The captions add interest and pertinent information (including a note about actual size) while also feeling personal and thoughtful.

He tells us that there are 'about 5000 types of lizards' and that:

"The smallest, a dwarf gecko from the Caribbean, is so tiny that it can get caught in spiderwebs. It is small
enough to curl up on your thumbnail, yet it has the same skeleton, muscles, stomach and beating heart as other lizards. In fact, it has most of the same organs as you."

An emerging bearded dragon lizard seems content and dozy as it breaks through its egg membrane. Marine iguanas from the Galapagos bask on a sunlit beach, heads up and smiling. An Australian thorny devil offers no invitation to get 'up close and personal'. The basilisk dares to dance on water at twenty steps a second. Monitors show uncanny skill at tracking and capturing prey. The Komodo can grow 'as many as 200 new teeth each year', very helpful when you consided the kind of prey they track. If he's hungry, you will want to be more than two miles, that is some sense of smell!

Nic Bishop finishes his book with a personal note and stories about the patience and persistence it takes to get the 'perfect' photograph. An index, a glossary and suggestions for further reading follow.

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