CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2005
Part of the eight-volume “Food Chains” series, these books, averaging 14 chapters each, are designed to introduce various habitats and the food chains and webs within them. Each of the titles begins with an explanation of the featured habitat, followed by three chapters of general information describing food chains, the energy pyramid (or levels of a food chain) and how plants produce food by means of the sun's energy. This information is almost identical in all four titles (the text is merely paraphrased), the only difference being the illustrations of the plants and animals which make up the food chains in the particular habitat. With the exception of a few scientific terms, such as “primary producers” or “secondary consumers,” the large print text is simple and kid friendly. A brief glossary and an index are provided. The illustrations consist of excellent colour photographs, maps and diagrams, all suitably labeled. (Teachers familiar with Kalman's books might recognize some of the photos which have been “recycled” from previous titles.) Bands, comprised of tiny pictures of the plants and animals pertaining to the habitat, appear across the top of each page, unifying both the text and the series.
Tundra Food Chains shows readers how plants and animals have adapted to their harsh environment. Topics include herbivores, carnivores and omnivores and the role played by scavengers and decomposers. The harmful effects of oil drilling are explained along with suggestions for how humans can help by conserving oil.
Prairie Food Chains focuses on prairie dogs, bison, predator-prey relationships and seasonal diet changes as well as keys to the preservation of the prairie landscape.
The formation of reefs and how plants in a coral reef differ from those of other habitats are discussed in Coral Reef Food Chains. Other topics include the interdependence of plants and animals, including, for example, the information that sea anemone provides a safe haven for the clown fish among its tentacles while the clown fish chases away the sea anemone's predators, the role of camouflage, mimicry and defenses (the octopus's ability to shoot ink clouds, for instance) for survival. Readers are also made aware of the decimation of coral reefs by overfishing, pollutants and poisons used to force fish out of their hiding places so that the fish can be caught and sold to pet stores.
Finally, Seashore Food Chains features temperate seashores, those characterized by hot summers and cold winters. Tides and the formation of tide pools, seashore zones (splash, upper, middle and lower shores), different types of algae, and the various hunting techniques employed by seashore animals are some of the other highlights. Readers will learn about filter feeders- barnacles, sea squirts, sponges and clams, to name a few- and detritus food chains.
Purchasers would be wise to choose just a few individual titles rather than the whole series as some of the information is repeated.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.