________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 10 . . . . January 11, 2008

cover

What Color Is It? (Looking at Nature).

Bobbie Kalman.           
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3338-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3318-8 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Colors-Juvenile literature.
Color in nature-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

   
cover

Is It Big or Small? (Looking at Nature).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $25.95 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3336-2 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3316-4 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Size judgment-Juvenile literature.
Size perception-Juvenile literature.
Nature-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

   
cover

Where Is It? (Looking at Nature).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3341-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3321-8 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Orientation (Psychology)-Juvenile literature.
Geographical perception-Juvenile literature.
Nature-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

   
cover

What Shape Is It? (Looking at Nature).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3340-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3320-1 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Geometry in nature-Juvenile literature.
Shapes-Juvenile literature.
Nature-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

   
cover

How Does It Feel? (Looking at Nature).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3334-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3314-0 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Touch-Juvenile literature.
Nature-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

   
cover

How Does It Look? (Looking at Nature).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3335-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3315-7 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Color in nature-Juvenile literature.
Pattern perception-Juvenile literature.
Nature-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

   
cover

Is It the Same or Different? (Looking at Nature).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3337-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3317-1 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Visual perception-Juvenile literature.
Nature-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

   
cover

What Comes Next? (Looking at Nature).

Bobbie Kalman.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $8.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3339-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3319-5 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Pattern perception-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4

excerpt:

A rainbow of colors.

Colors come from sunlight. We can see the colors of sunlight in rainbows. The colors in rainbows are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.

Our food comes in a rainbow of colors, too.

What color is a tomato?
What color is an orange?
What color are bananas?
What color are apples?
What color are blueberries?
What color are grapes? (From
What Color Is It?)


Written in readable prose, with a bit of poetry tossed in, the eight volumes in the “Looking at Nature” series each follow a similar pattern. All begin with an opening “Table of Contents” page and conclude with a page entitled “Words to Know and Index.” Between these two pages are 10 pairs of facing pages, with each functioning as a kind of chapter. Though having an index might seem unnecessary in a 24 page book, it does serve to introduce this feature to young readers/listeners. Essentially, the “Looking at Nature” series seeks to develop aspects of a young child’s vocabulary while utilizing full-colour photographs of situations or things from nature to illustrate the words’ meanings. This linking of language arts with science [or nature study] could prove useful in kindergarten classes while parents of pre-kindergartners might choose to purchase individual volumes.

    In content, the most “junior” or basic of the volumes is What Color Is It? which introduces youngsters to the colours of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. [For those raised on the Newtonian spectrum which included indigo, that colour is now considered just to be a shade of blue or purple]. For each of the colours, examples are drawn from nature. Consequently, red is illustrated with photos of, among other things, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and apples. As well, the book includes black and white, a “chapter” on mixing the three primary colours to produce other colours, plus another on colours and their associations with emotions.

     Is It Big or Small? deals with vocabulary that largely speaks to size, specifically big/small, huge/tiny, long/short, wide/narrow, heavy/light, more/fewer and high/low. In some instances, Kalman also includes the comparative and superlative forms of a word, such as tall, taller, tallest. The photo of an angelfish that appears at the top of p. 13 is supposed to illustrate that “the fish’s body is narrow,” but the angle at which the photo was taken does not really convey that concept well. “Guess their sizes!” closes the book by asking the readers to apply the vocabulary they have learned to the various animals presented. “Which of these animals is tall? Which animals are short and small?” An answer key is provided for the nine questions.

     Words dealing with spatial relationships are the stuff of Where Is It?. On/under, above/below, front/back/middle, between/among, ahead/behind, around/across, inside/outside, forward/away from, left/right, near/far and top/bottom are the word combinations dealt with by Kalman. Like the previous book, Where Is It? includes a brief “test,” this one entitled “Where are they?”

     What Shape Is It? begins by introducing eight shapes: rectangle, circle, triangle, square, oval, diamond, pentagon and hexagon. Each shape is then developed in its own chapter with examples again being drawn from nature. Given that six of the eight shapes consist of combinations of straight lines, the appropriate shape [a triangle, for example] must then be imposed on the example objects [a strawberry or a leaf] whose forms in nature do not always conform rigidly to the shape’s straight lines. Without the appropriate shapes being overlaid on the natural objects, many young readers will undoubtedly not “see” the desired shape. The book also includes 3-D shapes, specifically cubes, cylinders and cones. “What is its shape?’” confirms the degree to which readers are able to use the book’s introduced vocabulary.

     Vocabulary related to the sense of touch provides the primary focus for How Does It Feel? which begins by introducing the five senses before focusing on words connected to the sensation of touch. Hard/soft, furry/hairy, slimy/slippery, rough/bumpy and smooth/silky are the principal word pairings that Kalman attempts to explain with illustrations. The book’s weakness is obvious. The words will only have real meaning to just those children who have already experienced that particular touch sensation. The book also deals with what the mouth and tongue can feel and provides a little quiz. Be prepared to accept answers that differ from those provided in the answer key. For example, the answer key informs the child that the food which is “cold and wet” is milk, but I could see a child arguing that those words could also apply to the smoothie and possibly even the ice cream sundae. “Thick and smooth” are the words to be applied to the smoothie, but I “erroneously” matched them with the mashed potatoes which, according to the key, are “lumpy and mushy.”

    How Does It Look? begins by returning to the shapes vocabulary of What Shape Is It? and then turns to the concepts of line, pattern, spirals and symmetry. The book concludes by introducing the idea of sets and asks readers to either complete a set of four "somethings" or to say which thing does not belong within a set of four.

     The final two books in the series depart from vocabulary building. Is It the Same or Different? begins by making the point that "Things in our world may look the same. Things in our world may look different. Look closely at the things around you. Some things may be the same in some ways, but they may look different in other ways." The rest of the book then provides examples of things in nature which bear similarities and/or differences. Examples include two "critters" that both drink nectar from a flower and both share the name hummingbird; however, the one that is an insect has the word "moth" appended to its name.

     Though the eight books in the "Looking at Nature" series can theoretically be read in any order, What Comes Next? should likely be left until last as it is certainly the most sophisticated and demanding in its contents. As the book's title suggests, Kalman provides some type of  sequence, and the child is to identify what comes next in that particular sequence. In general, the concepts that the child must apply have been met in one of the other books in the series. For example, on the "Big and small" pages, the reader is shown photos of an elephant, a tiger and a hippo and is told that "The elephant is the biggest." The reader is then asked, "Which animal is the next biggest?" On the facing page can be found photos of a mouse, rat, dog and kitten, and the reader is instructed to "Put the animals in order from smallest to biggest." A small weakness is that appropriate size ratios are not always maintained in the photos, and a child lacking prior exposure to some of the animals' sizes might possibly mis-order them.

Recommended.

Dave Jenkinson, CM's editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

NEXT REVIEW |TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - January 11, 2008.

AUTHORS | TITLES | MEDIA REVIEWS | PROFILES | BACK ISSUES | SEARCH | CMARCHIVE | HOME