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Collins, Michael.

Illustrated by Sylvia Ficken. St. John's, Jesperson Press, c1985. 71pp, paper, spiral bound, $8.95, ISBN 0-920502-54-7.

Grades 7 and up
Reviewed by Eve Williams

Volume 14 Number 2
1986 March

Did you know that fox and lynx grow fur on the soles of their feet in winter? Or that otters and mink love to play in the snow and produce distinctive snowslides on banks? And that large dogberry buds are positively the favourite "fast food to go" for moose? In Nature Detecting Winter (no colon, but one feels there should be) author Michael Collins writes clearly and interestingly about the plants and animals in winter in Newfoundland. The animal prints, feeding marks, diet, sounds, odours, homes, and all the other indications of life in the wild woods are discussed. The text is aided by Sylvia Ficken's drawings, which inspire confidence that perhaps with this book in hand you may finally be able to sort out the different firs, laurels, maples, spruces, etc. (Did you know the top of larch trees can be used as a compass? How? Because the prevailing winds are almost always from the west, the tree's top branches usually point east).

However, I have some quarrels with the book. The size, diagrams, and clear text mean it will be a useful, light field guide. But the cover is flimsy and will hardly stand up to human pawing either in the woods or the library. Plastic covers on this coil-bound volume will be of little use. The junior reader may be deceived by its format into thinking that this is a middle-grade book, yet find the small print offputting. Conversely, the adult or senior reader, who would get a lot from it, may judge the book by its cover and dismiss it as lightweight kids stuff. The contents of the book deserve better than this. Buy this book for your natural history section (junior high upwards) and sell it to inquisitive lovers of the outdoors.

Eve Williams, MacNaughton H.S., Moncton, N.B.
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