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Friday, November 8, 2013

Lifetime:The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives, written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. Chronicle Books, Raincoast. 2013. $19.99 ages 4 and up

"In one lifetime,
this bottlenose dolphin
will use the same 100 teeth
to grab food from the sea.

The slipperier, the better!"

I am certain that you know the children who will spend all the time it takes, and find some way to ensure that each is counted, when they come to the final 'in one lifetime' spread...are there really '1,000 teeny-weeny, squiggly-wiggly baby seahorses' there? I haven't taken the time to check it out; there will also be those inquisitive, need-to-know adults who will be doing their counting  to be sure the artist didn't mess up! 

I cannot imagine the hours, days, months, years that it took Lola Schaefer to research the lifetimes that she has included in her newest book of exemplary nonfiction. Wow! It is some accomplishment.
We benefit from her hard work and her curious, incomparable thinking.

Not only does Ms. Schaefer present an impressive amount of information about those animals she has chosen to introduce to her readers, Christopher Silas Neal provides accompanying artwork that will appeal and invite close inspection. Many math concepts are just naturally a part of the whole. You will be counting, grouping, multiplying those groups, rechecking and relishing the collaboration of two precise artists. It will add wonder to your reading today.

In back matter, each of the species is further described to raise the reader's awareness. The description of the Cross Spider follows:

"The cross spider received its name because of a pattern of white dots on its back that forms a cross. It is a common garden spider that can be found in Europe and North America. The female will spin many large circular orb-webs in her lifetime. When an insect becomes trapped in her web, the spider wraps the prey in silk, injects it with venom, and eats it.

In early autumn, the female leaves the web and finds a protected spot, like a crack or small opening, to spin 1 egg sac full of tiny spider eggs. In a few days, the female spider will die, but come spring, between 300 and 900 spiderlings will hatch.

Average Adult Life Span: 6 months. Females produce 1 egg sac (cocoon) in a lifetime.

Our example: 1 cross spider lifetime x I egg sac = 1."

Did they make any slight blunders? It's up to you to find out, I guess!


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