Superstar Birds

9781477770603. ea vol: 32p. (Nature's Got Talent). further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. PowerKids. Jan. 2015. lib. ed. $25.25.
Gr 2–4—Focusing on a wide variety of species—from the bee hummingbird to the blue whale, the rhinoceros beetle to the New Guinea singing dog—these select galleries show off the amazing diversity of forms and abilities on display in the natural world. Each volume features 11 exemplars (plus several additional cameos from "Secret Stars") capped by a discussion of the difference between "physical" adaptations, such as the tarantula hawk wasp's venom, and "behavioral" ones, like the bull ant's vicious aggressiveness. Though Plants seems like the odd one out, it extends the series' examination of such adaptations beyond the animal world. The level of detail here is too superficial for research—readers wanting to know where, for instance, bull ants live will have to look elsewhere—but Spilsbury is careful to link the particular abilities she highlights, such as flying speed or the ability to thrive in challenging habitats, with distinctive physical characteristics. On each spread, the text is scattered in easily digestible bits around two or three dramatically posed color photographs. Both random browsers and budding younger naturalists will come away with a greater understanding of how plants and animals adjust to their environmental niches.

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