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Friday, January 12, 2018

Many: The Diveristy of Life on Earth, written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Emily Sutton. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2017. $21.99 all ages

"Everywhere you look,
there are living things.

In deserts ...
on islands far out at sea ...
under the feathers of birds
and on the backs of beetles ...

Lichen beetles have
tiny plants growing on
their backs, which help ... "

In a book about the amazing world we share, Nicola Davies helps her young readers see there is life everywhere we look. She starts with one, and then moves on to the idea of 'MANY', inviting them to look carefully around them and see the living things that make their home here.

We have met this little girl before - in Ms. Davies' previous Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes
(Candlewick, 2014). She carefully considers her target audience while helping her readers see what lives and thrives in a wide variety of habitats. Emily Sutton ensures they have a clear connection to the earth's many places that sustain this life. Her watercolor spreads are detailed, inviting and filled with diversity. As she has done in previous books, Ms. Davies writes with a clear, conversational tone in one font, adding further relevant facts in an italicized font.

On one double page spread we are told:

So far, human beings have
found and counted almost
two million different kinds
of living things."

That text is surrounded by labeled illustrations of 31 living things that have been discovered in the past 50 years. Further on, in another such spread, we are shown some of the many living things already lost to us - they number 21. She tells readers that life is a complicated pattern; one thing depends on another to sustain it. Humans are part of that whole big pattern, and must do our part. We do not want the 'many' to become just 'one'.

This is perfect fare to introduce young children to science, biodiversity, and the role we all play in maintaining a healthy world. As she does again and again, Ms. Davies ups their interest, adds to their knowledge base, and does so impeccably.

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