THE COLORS OF NATURE
Bobbie Kalman and Janine Schaub
Volume 21 Number 4
Bobbie Kalman may be the Isaac Asimov of Canadian children's publishing. This series adds to her list of almost 100 publications.
In both books the topics are covered in two-page spreads with three colour illustrations or photographs and 120 to 150 words of text. The photographs using children are racially mixed and show both boys and girls. Both the drawings and the photographs are appropriate and supplement the text. A glossary, index and suggested activities are also included in each book. Although these books are part of the "Primary Ecology" series, students younger than grade 3 would not be able to read or comprehend the text without assistance.
The Air I Breathe covers topics ranging from how we breathe to weather forecasting with little excursions into air pollution and emphysema to make the ecology connection. In general, the concepts are clearly explained for the grade 3 to 6 student. The sections on the layers of the atmosphere and the issue of harmful ozone vs. the necessity of ozone at higher levels in the upper atmosphere were both valuable.
In "Thunder Countdown" the author explains that we see the lightning before we hear the thunder because sound travels more slowly than light. However, sound travels 344 meters per second. Therefore, a three-second delay between lightning and thunder means the storm is 1 kilometre away, not 1 mile as stated. This is a very surprising error for a book "checked by experts and field-tested with children."
The Colors of Nature covers such topics as how people and animals see colour, colour in plants, camouflage, and other animal markings. The effect of colourful garbage on animals makes the ecology connection. In the discussions of animal and plant use of colour, the author does not introduce the concept of interdependence of living things, which could have been expected in a title in an ecology series.
On the whole these books were not as captivating as another title in the series, Squirmy Wormy Composters, perhaps because too much breadth was attempted or because the hook (e.g., worms) was not there. I was also troubled by the designation "primary" in the series name, as the reading level is not Primary.
Recommended only for large collections in school and public libraries.
Pat Steenbergen is a job-sharing librarian in the Professional Library for the staff of the Board of Education for the City of York in Toronto, Ontario.
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