CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2005
To reach the youngest readers, or those with a beginning curiosity about the natural world around them, requires a bright, attractive book with basic details presented in an easy to follow format. This big book allows the use of large scale drawings with complete concepts on a single or double page spread. The Nature Treasury contains a good balance of simple text and illustration. It is a new edition of My First Nature Treasury published in 1994.
The book introduces animal and plant groups, examples of life cycles and the food chain. The composition of soil, trees, grass, air and water is shown with large, clearly labelled drawings. The book also illustrates the various environments on the earth, including forest, rain forest, prairie, savanna, tundra, desert, lake, river, ocean and coral reef. An interactive element invites readers to search for specific life forms within a panoramic drawing of each ecosystem. This approach enables the child to see the animal or plant in its proper context. Illustrations of the rain forest and ocean require turning the book on end for an effective top to bottom spread. One fascinating fact about each ecosystem is highlighted in a circle within the large picture. For example, in the desert scene, "The wind shapes sand into hills called dunes. Sand dunes are always being moved around, and when the wind gets really strong, it makes sand storms."
The food chain is presented in a wheel shape with each set of examples spread out along one of its spokes. The centre of the wheel is divided into basic elements of land and sea: grass and phytoplankton. This is a fresh way to show the links from the lowest plant food to the largest predators. It's easy to determine that the elephant has no natural enemies and that the blue whale has a selective diet of krill.
The oval shape in which the diagrams showing life cycles are shown is a bit problematic. Direction is reversed through the numbered steps in one of the examples on each page: one set moves right to left, the other left to right). For this age group, consistent left to right flow reinforces early reading skills.
The final page is a glossary with a reading level aimed at parents or teachers to help define in more detail some of the scientific terms used throughout the book. The Nature Treasury will be a great starting point for discussion about basic concepts in nature for the elementary grades.
Gillian Richardson, a freelance writer and former teacher-librarian, lives in BC.
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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.