November 17, 2017

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Packs, Pods, and Prides: Animals | Series Made Simple Fall 2012

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This season’s animal titles are thoughtfully designed to support Common Core State Standards with good use of nonfiction text features and subject-specific vocabulary. Whether students are requesting books for research or for recreational reading, the abundant photographs and conversational narratives ensure that they will be engaged and will come away with increased background knowledge. Several series explain classification and interaction within a species’ habitat, environment, or group. While many of the animals highlighted are old favorites, students will also be introduced to some of the planet’s more unusual creatures.

Preschool-Grade 4

CARRAWAY, Rose. Chickens on the Farm. ISBN 978-1-4339-7344-4; ISBN 978-1-4339-7347-5. LC 2012003022.
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. Cows on the Farm. ISBN 978-1-4339-7348-2; ISBN 978-1-4339-7351-2. LC 2011051822.
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. Goats on the Farm. ISBN 978-1-4339-7352-9; ISBN 978-1-4339-7355-0. LC 2012003050.
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. Horses on the Farm. ISBN 978-1-4339-7356-7; ISBN 978-1-4339-7359-8. LC 2012003021.
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. Pigs on the Farm. ISBN 978-1-4339-7360-4; ISBN 978-1-4339-7363-5. LC 2011051821.
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. Sheep on the Farm. ISBN 978-1-4339-7364-2; ISBN 978-1-4339-7367-3. LC 2011051820.
ea vol: 24p. (Farm Animals Series). photos. glossary. index. CIP. Gareth Stevens. 2012. PLB $22.60; ebook $22.60.
PreS-Gr 1
–While these are serviceable introductions to popular animals, there is nothing about the volumes that stands out. Each spread includes a photograph and one or two sentences. The scope of coverage is inconsistent: while most of the titles address the animal’s diet, physical description, and a bit about daily life, Horses focuses largely on physical attributes and horseback riding, and does not mention diet at all. The picture glossaries in all the books show close-ups of two or three images. The included words are not necessarily the most important; they are the ones that photograph most easily. Rourke’s “Farm Animals” (2011) offers a more engaging and even introduction to farm animals and life.

CLEARY, Brian P. Butterfly, Flea, Beetle, and Bee: What Is an Insect? ISBN 978-0-7613-6208-1; ISBN 978-1-4677-0336-9; ISBN 978-1-4677-0116-7. LC 2011044871.
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. Catfish, Cod, Salmon, and Scrod: What Is a Fish? ISBN 978-0-7613-6211-1; ISBN 978-1-4677-0337-6; ISBN 978-1-4677-0115-0. LC 2011050200.
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. Dolphin, Fox, Hippo, and Ox: What Is a Mammal? ISBN 978-0-7613-6206-7; ISBN 978-1-4677-0338-3; ISBN 978-1-4677-0117-4. LC 2011044870.
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. Salamander, Frog, and Polliwog: What Is an Amphibian? ISBN 978-0-7613-6209-8; ISBN 978-1-4677-0339-0; ISBN 978-1-4677-0113-6. LC 2011050202.
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. Sparrow, Eagle, Penguin, and Seagull: What Is a Bird? ISBN 978-0-7613-6207-4; ISBN 978-1-4677-0340-6; ISBN 978-1-4677-0114-3. LC 2011050203.
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. Tortoise, Tress Snake, Gator, and Sea Snake: What Is a Reptile? ISBN 978-0-7613-6210-4; ISBN 978-1-4677-0341-3; ISBN 978-1-4677-0118-1. LC 2011044869.
ea vol: illus. by Martin Goneau. 32p. (Animal Groups Are CATegorical Series). CIP. Millbrook. 2012. PLB $26.60; pap. $7.95; ebook $19.95.
Gr 1-3
–Those CATegorical felines are back. This time they turn their attention to the characteristics of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects, and fish. The energetic rhyming text and zany cartoon illustrations will captivate students and make it fun to learn about what makes each group distinctive. Goneau’s cartoon creatures nicely complement the facts that Cleary imparts in his rhythmic narrative, and in several cases, labels are included in the illustrations to reinforce a point. Each volume concludes with two pages summarizing the key characteristics of the animal class under discussion. Solid additions to the series.

HEAD, Honor. Cats. ISBN 978-1-59920-698-1. LC 2011035939.
MORGAN,
Sally. Birds. ISBN 978-1-59920-697-4. LC 2012000147.
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. Dogs. ISBN 978-1-59920-699-8. LC 2011024871.
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. Gerbils and Hamsters. ISBN 978-1-59920-701-8. LC 2012000148.
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. Horses. ISBN 978-1-59920-702-5. LC 2011040183.
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. Lizards and Snakes. ISBN 978-1-59920-704-9. LC 2011025317.
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. Rabbits. ISBN 978-1-59920-700-1. LC 2011041239.
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. Rats and Mice. ISBN 978-1-59920-703-2. LC 2011038275.
ea vol: 32p. (Pets Plus Series). photos. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Smart Apple Media. 2012. PLB $28.50.
Gr 2-5
–Be they interested in ever-popular dogs and cats or more exotic creatures, these guides will help readers make thoughtful decisions about whether or not they are ready for pet ownership. Starting with a comparison of the domesticated animal to its wild relatives, each volume discusses the variety of breeds, sizes, and temperaments. Detailed instructions explain how to best prepare to adopt and care for an animal, including information on diet, exercise, and symptoms that require medical attention. Abundant color photographs with captions show ethnically diverse children and numerous creatures. Subheadings and text boxes break up the narratives into manageable chunks. The volumes conclude with quizzes and checklists, reinforcing owners’ responsibilities. Broader in scope than the “A Pet’s Life” series (Heinemann), this offering is a solid choice for libraries looking for updates.

HOWARD, Fran. Parrots. ISBN 978-1-4296-8685-3. LC 2012008041.
MCCARTHY,
Cecilia Pinto. Hawks. ISBN 978-1-4296-8607-5. LC 2012002140.
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. Vultures. ISBN 978-1-4296-8608-2. LC 2012002142.
NORRIS,
Ashley P. Watson. Falcons. ISBN 978-1-4296-8606-8. LC 2012002160.
RICHARDSON,
Adele D. Eagles. ISBN 978-1-4296-8683-9. LC 2012007511.
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. Owls. ISBN 978-1-4296-8684-6. LC 2012007512.
ea vol: 24p. (First Facts: Birds Series). map. photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Capstone. 2012. PLB $24.65.
Gr 1-3-
Report writers and casual browsers will enjoy this series. Each volume begins with an introduction and a labeled photograph of the featured bird. It then covers the subject’s physical appearance, habitat, diet, and life cycle. Content vocabulary appears in bold, with words defined both on the pages on which they appear and in the glossary. Plentiful, crisp color photographs show different species within the order, and the lively narratives are suitable for primary grades. One minor quibble: fact boxes that give interesting tidbits about the various animals do not always match the creatures that are pictured on accompanying pages. Otherwise, these are well-organized and useful guides.

KASPAR, Anna. What’s a Bird?. ISBN 978-1-4488-6136-1; ISBN 978-1-4488-6480-5. LC 2011016909.
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. What’s a Fish? ISBN 978-1-4488-6135-4; ISBN 978-1-4488-6479-9. LC 2011017101.
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. What’s a Mammal? ISBN 978-1-4488-6137-8; ISBN 978-1-4488-6481-2. LC 2011017107.
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. What’s a Reptile? ISBN 978-1-4488-6134-7; ISBN 978-1-4488-6478-2. LC 2011016910.
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. What’s an Amphibian? ISBN 978-1-4488-6138-5; ISBN 978-1-4488-6482-9. LC 2011002459.
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. What’s an Insect? ISBN 978-1-4488-6139-2; ISBN 978-1-4488-6483-6. LC 2011023952.
ea vol: 24p. (All About Animals Series). photos. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Rosen/PowerKids Pr. 2012. PLB $22.60; ebook $22.60.
K-Gr 1-
Each spread in this set includes a close-up color photograph and one or two sentences of accompanying text. The first several pages explain the key characteristics of the featured group. For example, Amphibian states, “Most amphibians have wet skin” and Fish says, “All fish live in water. Fish are covered in scales.” The remaining pages give examples of different creatures in the subject category. All the books end abruptly with no conclusions. The “Words to Know” sections may confuse children; rather than defining words, they simply include zoomed-in shots of the pictures that correspond with the pages where the words can be found. Stick with Lerner’s “Lightning Bolt Books: Meet the Animal Groups” series (2009) for a better beginning-reader set.

KUSKOWSKI, Alex. A Flock of Sheep: Animal Groups on the Farm. ISBN 978-1-61783-538-4; ISBN 978-1-61480-089-7. LC 2012009029.
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. A Gaggle of Geese: Animal Groups on Lakes & Rivers. ISBN 978-1-61783-540-7; ISBN 978-1-61480-091-0. LC 2012009031.
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. A Herd of Deer: Animal Groups in the Forest. ISBN 978-1-61783-539-1; ISBN 978-1-61480-090-3. LC 2012009030.
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. A School of Fish: Animal Groups in the Ocean. ISBN 978-1-61783-541-4; ISBN 978-1-61480-092-7. LC 2012009032.
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. A Streak of Tigers: Animal Groups in the Jungle. ISBN 978-1-61783-542-1; ISBN 978-1-61480-093-4. LC 2012009607 .
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. A Zeal of Zebras: Animal Groups on an African Safari. ISBN 978-1-61783-543-8; ISBN 978-1-61480-094-1. LC 2012009608.
ea vol: 24p. (Animal Groups Series). photos. glossary. CIP. ABDO/SandCastle. 2012. PLB $22.78; ebook $22.78.
K-Gr 2
–Each volume highlights interesting animal groups and devotes itself to a particular type of habitat–jungle, forest, farm, etc.–showing young readers several animals that call that place home. After a general introduction about the benefits of living together, each spread shares what a particular animal group is called. For example, children will learn that owls gather in a “parliament,” bears form a “sleuth,” and frogs get together in a “colony.” The accompanying sentences offer an interesting tidbit or two against the backdrop of a dramatic clear color photo of the animal being discussed. While these titles are not detailed enough for research projects, they have high appeal for browsers, and they lend themselves well to classroom discussions of collective nouns.

MARKOVICS, Joyce. Jaguarundi: Otter Cat. ISBN 978-1-61772-579-1; ISBN 978-1-61772-611-8. LC 2012009600.
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. Ringtail: Miner’s Cat. ISBN 978-1-61772-580-7; ISBN 978-1-61772-612-5. LC 2012007085.
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. White-Nosed Coati: Raccoon’s Cousin. ISBN 978-1-61772-581-4; ISBN 978-1-61772-614-9. LC 2012016961.
PERSON,
Stephen. Collared Peccary: Cactus Eater. ISBN 978-1-61772-571-5; ISBN 978-1-61772-609-5. LC 2012009601.
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. Cougar: A Cat with Many Names. ISBN 978-1-61772-569-2; ISBN 978-1-61772-610-1. LC 2012003342.
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. Roseate Spoonbill: Pretty in Pink. ISBN 978-1-61772-570-8; ISBN 978-1-61772-613-2. LC 2012014338.
ea vol: 32p. (America’s Hidden Animal Treasures Series). chart. maps. photos. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Bearport. 2012. PLB $26.60; ebook $33.27.
Gr 3-5
–This set highlights some of the lesser-known animals with whom we share our country. While students may have some familiarity with cougars, they are less likely to have heard of the other creatures. Each volume starts with a high-interest story and goes on to describe its subject’s habitat, physical traits, diet, and family. Engaging narratives are interspersed with numerous captioned color photos and text boxes. The vocabulary is rich. For example, Jaguarundi introduces the concept of extirpation and Cougar discusses expansion. The habitat loss that threatens each of these species is a common topic, and the tone encourages a thoughtful approach toward the environment.

METZ, Lorijo. Arabian Horses. ISBN 978-1-4488-7426-2; ISBN 978-1-4488-7653-2. LC 2011045704.
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. Clydesdales. ISBN 978-1-4488
7427-
9; ISBN 978-1-4488-7654-9. LC 2011049579.
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. Friesians. ISBN 978-1-4488-7431-6; ISBN 978-1-4488-7658-7. LC 2011052883.
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. Lipizzans. ISBN 978-1-4488-7428-6; ISBN 978-1-4488-7655-6. LC 2011051490.
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. Lusitanos. ISBN 978-1-4488-7430-9; ISBN 978-1-4488-7657-0. LC 20110
51872.

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. Thoroughbreds. ISBN 978-1-4488-7429-3; ISBN 978-1-4488-7656-3. LC 2011051488.
ea vol: 24p. (The World of Horses Series). photos. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Rosen/PowerKids Pr. 2012. PLB $22.60; ebook $22.60.
Gr 2-5
–Each volume covers the breed’s physical characteristics, history, and what it is known for today. While young horse enthusiasts will enjoy the abundant photographs, this series is not without problems. Photographs and captions do not always relate to the accompanying text, and the narrative flow can be choppy. The glossaries are incomplete, e.g., Lusitanos discusses but does not fully explain the concepts of “the airs above the ground” jumps and “working equitation.” Friesians incorrectly states that a studbook for the Friesian horse was started in the Netherlands in 1897 rather than in 1879. Overall, the “Horse Breed Roundup” series (Children’s Press) is a better choice.

OLDFIELD, Dawn Bluemel. Water Frog Polliwogs. ISBN 978-1-61772-606-4; ISBN 978-1-61772-637-8. LC 2012012473.
OWEN,
Ruth. Manatee Calves. ISBN 978-1-61772-599-9; ISBN 978-1-61772-630-9. LC 2012020366.
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. Orca Calves. ISBN 978-1-61772-600-2; ISBN 978-1-61772-631-6. LC 2012012880.
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. Penguin Chicks. ISBN 978-1-61772-602-6; ISBN 978-1-61772-633-0. LC 2012009605.
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. Sea Otter Pups. ISBN 978-1-61772-601-9; ISBN 978-1-61772-632-3. LC 2012007274.
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. Sea Turtle Hatchlings. ISBN 978-1-61772-603-3; ISBN 978-1-61772-634-7. LC 2012012881.
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. Seahorse Fry. ISBN 978-1-61772-604-0; ISBN 978-1-61772-635-4. LC 2012021238.
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. Seal Pups. ISBN 978-1-61772-605-7; ISBN 978-1-61772-636-1. LC 2012017875.
ea vol: 24p. (Water Babies Series). diag. map. photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Bearport. 2012. PLB $21.32; ebook $27.99.
K-Gr 2
–The primary-grade crowd will love this early fluent reader series that discusses the infancy and development from birth to adulthood of various water animals. Physicality at each stage, diet, and social structure are addressed; predators are not mentioned in all of the volumes. Clearly labeled photographs complement the texts; words that are defined in the glossaries appear in bold in the narratives; and the glossaries include both definitions and photographs. The vocabulary is more complex than that found in many beginning-reader series, but each volume is chock full of fascinating facts. A map highlights where each animal lives. This series is a standout.

RIGGS, Kate. Dolphins. ISBN 978-1-60818-274-9. LC 2011044739.
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. Elephants. ISBN 978-1-60818-275-6. LC 2011044740.
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. Giraffes. ISBN 978-1-60818-276-3. LC 2011044741.
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. Lions. ISBN 978-1-60818-277-0. LC 2011044742.
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. Monkeys. ISBN 978-1-60818-278-7. LC 2011044743.
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. Penguins. ISBN 978-1-60818-279-4. LC 2011044744.
ea vol: 24p. (Seedlings Series). diag. photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Creative Education. 2012. PLB $22.80.
PreS-Gr 1
–Introductions to animals of the wild. In each volume, spreads pair eye-catching color photographs with a few simple sentences in large font. Potentially unfamiliar words are shown in different colors and are defined in the back matter’s “Words to Know.” While the set does not go into extensive detail, it does a good job of covering the basics of each animal’s habitat, diet, physical description, and social interactions. The titles conclude with close-up photographs of the subjects with labeled body parts. The rhythmic text lends itself nicely to being read aloud, and the crisp layout offers a solid opportunity to start introducing nonfiction features.

SCHUETZ, Kari. Amphibians. ISBN 978-1-60014-771-5. LC 2012000936.
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. Insects. ISBN 978-1-60014-774-6. LC 2012000964.
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. Mammals. ISBN 978-1-60014-775-3. LC 2011053040.
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. Reptiles. ISBN 978-1-60014-776-0. LC 2011053036.
ea vol: 24p. (Blastoff! Readers: Animal Classes Series). diags. photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Bellwether Media. 2012. PLB $22.95.
Gr 1-3
–These volumes begin by explaining that “all animals belong to the animal kingdom.” A diagram then gives examples of the classes of animals that are vertebrates and those that are invertebrates. Common shared characteristics are covered, and the bright color photos pop off the pages. Although phyla, order, family, genus, and species are not mentioned specifically, Reptiles and Mammals both discuss how their classes are broken down into smaller groups. Record-breakers (largest, smallest, fastest, etc.) are listed at the end of each volume. Thorough glossaries are included, and the lists of further reading are adequate. The generic Factsurfer website suggested in each title offers a mixed bag for children wanting to find out more on the Internet. Serviceable introductions.

Grades 5 & Up

CLAYBOURNE, Anna. A Colony of Ants and Other Insect Groups. ISBN 978-1-4329-6480-1; ISBN 978-1-4329-6487-0. LC 2011038136.
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. A Pack of Wolves and Other Canine Groups. chart. ISBN 978-1-4329-6482-5; ISBN 978-1-4329-6489-4. LC 2011038138.
HUNT,
Jilly. A Rookery of Penguins and Other Bird Groups. ISBN 978-1-4329-6484-9; ISBN 978-1-4329-6491-7. LC 2011038178.
SPILSBURY,
Louise. A Mob of Meerkats and Other Mammal Groups. ISBN 978-1-4329-6481-8; ISBN 978-1-4329-6488-7. LC 2011038137.
SPILSBURY,
Richard. A Pod of Dolphins and Other Sea Mammal Groups. ISBN 978-1-4329-6483-2; ISBN 978-1-4329-6490-0. LC 2011038140.
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. A Troop of Chimpanzees and Other Primate Groups. ISBN 978-1-4329-6485-6; ISBN 978-1-4329-6492-4. LC 2011038180.
ea vol: 48p. (Animals in Groups Series). diags. map. photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. CIP. Heinemann. 2012. PLB $32.65; pap. $8.99.
Gr 3-6
–This series is chock-full of information, presented in an engaging format. The focus is on how and why certain animals form groups. Within that context, readers will come away with plenty of facts about the creatures’ physical characteristics, diet, habitat, social behavior, and predators. While each title promises information on other groups, the titular animal gets the limelight: a couple of others are briefly mentioned in each volume, mainly for comparison. The text is nicely sized and interspersed with captioned, eye-catching photographs. Text boxes offer additional tidbits, including information about human interaction and endangered habitats. Each volume contains a helpful food-web diagram along with abundant back matter. Solid choices for libraries looking for report-writing or browsing materials for middle grade students.

Deserts and Scrublands. ISBN 978-0-7166-0445-7. LC 2012005834.
Grasslands
. ISBN 978-0-7166-0446-4. LC 2012005836.
Mountains and Polar Regions
. ISBN 978-0-7166-0448-8. LC 2012005837.
Oceans
. ISBN 978-0-7166-0447-1. LC 2012005838.
Rivers, Lakes, and Wetlands
. ISBN 978-0-7166-0442-6. LC 2012005840.
Savannas
. ISBN 978-0-7166-0443-3. LC 2012005841.
Seasonal Forests
. ISBN 978-0-7166-0444-0. LC 2012005842.
Tropical Regions and Rain Forests
. ISBN 978-0-7166-0449-5. LC 2012005839.
ea vol: 48p. (Animals and Their Habitats Series). diags. illus. maps. photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. CIP. World Book. 2012. PLB Price for series $179.
Gr 3-7–
While the idea of organizing animals by habitat is commendable, this series falls short. A rather lackluster introduction defines the habitat and shows a world map with the specific areas highlighted, followed by the rest of the volume with a page devoted for each of 40 animals. Each creature is presented with a crisp color photo, a labeled illustration, vital statistics, and a size comparison, as well as an individualized habitat map–which is not particularly helpful as it doesn’t highlight the specific areas mentioned in the caption. Italicized words are defined within the texts. The series as a whole does not mention biomes or the biosphere, and there are some editorial missteps. For instance, the aardwolf’s inclusion in Deserts seems out of place given that the narrative states, “the animal lives only in grassland and savanna areas,” and steppe is misspelled as “steepe” on three different occasions in the Grasslands glossary.

HARRIS, Tim, ed. Chimpanzees. map. ISBN 978-1-78121-001-7.
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. Dolphins. diag. ISBN 978-1-78121-002-4.
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. Elephants. illus. map. ISBN 978-1-78121-003-1.
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. Lions. diag. map. ISBN 978-1-78121-004-8.
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. Penguins. diag. map. ISBN 978-1-78121-005-5.
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. Wolves. map. ISBN 978-1-78121-006-2.
ea vol: 32p. (Animal Families Series). photos. further reading. glossary. index. websites. Brown Bear Bks. 2012. PLB $28.50.
Gr 4-7
–This series focuses on animal interactions within family units or social groups, but it also covers physical descriptions, diets, habitats, and life cycles. The content is detailed enough to appeal to report writers, but the flow can be disjointed, and spelling and grammatical errors are distracting. There are several disconcerting examples of anthropomorphism. For example, in Chimpanzees the text says, “From the age of about 10, a female chimp knows she can win useful friends among the males in a group by mating with them. When she comes into breeding condition every month, she starts getting friendly with high-ranking males.” Photos are plentiful, and back matter is thorough, although the texts do not bold words that are defined in the glossaries.


There are five standouts in this season’s series. Creative Education’s “Seedlings” and Bearport’s “Water Babies” will fascinate younger readers. Smart Apple’s “Pets Plus” is full of useful information for middle elementary students who are considering pet ownership and Bearport’s “America’s Hidden Animal Treasures” offers a thoughtful approach to how we can protect animals that are rapidly disappearing from our backyard. Older elementary students will find solid research material with appealing presentations in Heinemann’s “Animals in Groups.” The various series that introduce the concept of animal classification are all informative, but are otherwise not notable. Capstone’s “First Facts: Birds” and ABDO’s “Animal Groups” are solid additions if these areas need to be updated.

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