CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 32. . . .April 22, 2016
Part of the four-volume “Science Kids Life Cycles” series for very young readers, these titles provide very basic information about the featured animal’s life cycle, although neither title gives an approximate lifespan. Each of the double-page spreads has a text box or two with the text printed in a large, simple font and surrounded by plenty of white space, perfect for beginning readers. Illustrations consist of colour photographs with the close-ups in Mosquitoes being particularly impressive. Also included in the books are a table of contents and a list of key words. These key words do not constitute a glossary; rather, they are sight words and content words specific to the title.
This series belongs to the “media-enhanced” AV² collection [AV referring to “added value”]. In order to access the AV² aspect of the books, readers must log into the AV² web page and enter the book’s unique code which is found on the second page. A further security step is involved in which readers must answer a question about the book in order to continue. For some youngsters, this might pose a problem, and so an adult’s help might be required. There is a corresponding AV² activity for each double-page spread in the book. Activities include a couple of short videos and web links, a word search, a shape matching game, a “spot the difference” activity, and a maze. An answer key is provided. The activities vary in difficulty, and, though they are well intentioned, some are too advanced in vocabulary for the target audience.
Mosquitoes often hatch from eggs that were laid in water. Some are laid in a group called an egg raft. In Mosquitoes, readers can easily see the four stages of development. The word “imago”, used to describe the adult stage, will likely be new to most readers. There are some very good visuals in both the first AV² video [the entire life cycle is shown] and in the first web link [12 excellent close-up shots of mosquitoes]. However, terms such as “antipathy”, “ubiquitous presence” and “disproportionate” are far beyond the reader’s level of understanding. The second web link consists of an extremely interesting list of “33 Things You Didn’t Know About Mosquitoes”, facts such as mosquitoes have been on Earth since the Jurassic period; they can drink up to three times their weight in blood; and people who wear dark coloured clothing are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes because the dark colours trap heat which attracts mosquitoes.
Dogs is the weaker of the two titles, primarily because some of the information is not quite accurate or can be a bit misleading. For example, “Dogs can give birth to 12 puppies at a time.” True, but perhaps it would have been better to say that there can be from one to 12 puppies in a litter. “They carry their babies for nine weeks.” Again, true, but the accompanying photo shows seven dogs sitting on a blanket. Why not say they carry their developing babies in their bodies for nine weeks” and show a visibly pregnant female dog in the photograph? AV² activities include a video in which a veterinarian talks about dogs’ teeth, a web link which offers a quiz that helps readers to select the dog that is best for them and their lifestyle, photos of 27 domestic dogs and an accompanying article, and a video entitled “Man’s Best Friend” which showcases the various uses of dogs, ranging from farm work and hunting, to security, assisting people who have disabilities, and merely for companionship.
Though there are some good activities in the AV² aspect of the series, their level of difficulty is inconsistent. With some minor revisions, this would be a worthwhile series.
Recommended with Reservations.
Gail Hamilton is a former 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.