CM . . . .
Volume V Number 2 . . . . September 18, 1998
Many people think koalas are bears because they climb trees, have a thick fur coat, and are chubby-looking. Koalas are not bears! Both bears and koalas are mammals, but only the koala is a marsupial.A Koala is Not a Bear! is part of the "Crabapples" series. Co-authors Sotzek and Kalman have created a wonderful package of information here. The clear and concise text is written in short sentences with important terms in bold. The material is arranged under headings which work well sequentially to lead the reader along from "The Koala," to "A Koala's Body," "What do Koalas Eat?" and on through to "Koalas in Danger" and "Protecting Koalas." The authors have chosen information which will appeal to the youngest naturalist as well as to children in search of material for school projects.
The design of the book is a particular asset and extends the usefulness of the book well beyond the youngest age range. The illustrations by Barbara Bedell provide detail about paws and koala subspecies. These are interspersed with the much more abundant examples of nature photography credited to a substantial list of photographers. Several young library patrons "oohed" and "aahed" over the attractive photographs of these apparently cute and sweet creatures. Although Sotzek and Kalman dispel the illusion of the koala's cuddliness, the photographs add strongly to the appeal of the book. Further to the design issues, photographs are bounded in colour and are, at times, set over the leaves and branches of the eucalyptus. As an asset to the readability of the text for children who are perhaps attracted first by the photographs, the text is arranged in narrow columns with abundant wide borders. This design is also appealing to librarians serving ESL students who benefit from clear formatting and finite units of information.
A Koala is not a Bear! is a successful collaboration providing an introductory text both for the preschooler who wants nature books rather than picturebooks, as well as elementary students with a range of reading and language skills for project research.
Jennifer Johnson works as a librarian in Ottawa, Ontario.
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