Large Mammals, Vol. 2: Nature Stories for Children

Description

40 pages
Contains Illustrations
$3.95
ISBN 0-920534-11-2

Publisher

Year

1985

Contributor

Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.

Review

These titles succeed only marginally in attempting to be simultaneously fact, fiction, and coloring books. As would be expected of works in a series, the format of each is similar. Rectos consist of line illustrations which presumably are meant to be colored by young readers. Lamentably, the color details described on each facing page are frequently so vague that, unless readers have access to other books containing colored model illustrations, their finished insect, plant, or mammal will not look as it should. Usually each illustration page portrays a single insect or animal, but the wildflower pictures reverse the norm with two flowers each taking up half a page.

The left column, which is in bold face, contains the story portion of each book. Facing pages contain double columns of text. Though the authors all have job titles which attest to their content expertise, their storytelling abilities generally do not match their capacity to deal with factual information. Insects and animals, because of their mobility, offer their authors some potential for story creation; but length restrictions permit only brief incidents. InWildflowers, author Keleheralso employs some pourquoi stories and personal anecdotes in trying to overcome the limitations of having to create plant-related narratives. A conservation theme runs through her writing and is also found to a lesser degree in the other titles.

The remaining text column in lighter type provides the facts about the 34 wildflowers, 21 mammals and 19 insects. In all three titles, this information is consistently subdivided into sections which deal with such concerns as ‘family,’ ‘size,’ ‘reproduction’ and, for Insects and Large Mammals, ‘distribution’; while Insects and Wildflowers have the additional category ‘remarks’ that provides miscellaneous facts which do not readily fit into the other categories. Appropriate measurements are given in both imperial and metric units. The inclusion of technical language causes the reading level of this portion of the books to be higher than the story part. None of the books provides a rationale for its particular content choices, and even the addition of the adjective “large” before mammals is not defining, for the term is applied equally to 20 pound fishers and Arctic foxes and 121 ton bowhead whales.

The availability of better nature stories and factual books about nature, and the series’ use of stapled bindings, reduce the worth of these titles to institutional libraries, though the books’ relatively low price may make them appealing to individual purchasers.

Citation

Wrigley, Robert E., “Large Mammals, Vol. 2: Nature Stories for Children,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/35199.