Little Kids First Big Book of Reptiles and Amphibians

National Geographic. Sept. 2020. 128p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781426338182.
Gr 1-4–Colorful, interest-grabbing photographs and lucid text introduce young readers to a large sampling of the 10,000 species of reptiles and the 8,000 species of amphibians living on Earth. The text focuses on their defining features, behaviors, and adaptations to their environments. The varied page layouts are enticing and include clearly labeled animal photos and just enough facts to maintain interest and invite wonder. While the photos are clearly the showstopper, the text does an excellent job of providing information and introducing vocabulary so that readers learn to understand and talk about animal life. Words are introduced and then integrated into the text. For example, readers learn that reptiles are vertebrates, meaning they have a spine or backbone. Then the author explains, “You are a vertebrate, too! But you are not a reptile. You are a mammal.” Among the many words introduced are ectotherms (animals that cannot produce their own heat) and herpetologists (scientists who study reptiles and amphibians). These words are clearly explained and introduced. The only questionable feature is the frequent use of questions that attempt to connect the reader’s experience to an animal’s behavior. For example, after readers learn about the painted turtle, they are asked, “Do you prefer to finger-paint or paint with a brush? Why?” Questions like this distract from the topic at hand. Aside from that, this is a strong, informative resource.
VERDICT A fine addition to studies of animal behavior and adaptations. Also excellent as a mentor text for studying how to present information or for browsing and enjoying.

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