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Franklim Russell.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, c1961, 1981.
264pp, paper, $5.95.
ISBN 0-7710-9304-7.

Grades 7 and up.
Reviewed by Donald A. MAcrae.

Volume 10 Number 4.
1982 November.

Franklin Russell has published numerous books including Searchers at the Gulf, Secret Islands, and Seasons on the Plain. He has been both a Guggenheim and a Canada Council Arts Fellow. This delightful book describes, in customary drama and vividness, the changes that occur in the lives of countless organisms through four seasons in the small world of a pond.

From the monstrous destruction of the winter blizzard to the disruption of microscopic chloroplasts by the chopping jaws of a caterpillar, the reader is witness to the universal breakdown of illusive stability within this ecosystem. Russell also allows us to observe the teeming productivity of life from the centre of the action, whether it be the proliferation of ten thousand rhizopods, invisible to anyone but the reader, or the choking expansion of the arrowheads and bulrushes.

The author's purpose is clearly to transfer to us from him the aspects of beauty, emotion, and suspense he has found in a careful study of the pond environment. This objective is completely achieved early in the book with sheer sensitivity of the author's style.

The book is extremely readable, with large clear print and generous sprinkling of fine drawings by Robert W. Arnold. Its division into chapters and numbered segments of chapters allows many natural breaks for reflection and pause. Watchers at the Pond is easily suitable for students of grades 7 and up and, of course, adults of all ages. Its incorporation into any biology or environmental science course of study would be most useful. As a reading assignment, analytical exercise, or enrichment lesson, the interest it would add to comparatively dry textbook narratives is worth every teacher's consideration.

Needless to say, Watchers at the Pond belongs in the library of any reader, young or old, as a volume to be read many times over.

Donald A. Macrae, Brampton Centennial S. S., Brampton, ON.
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