________________ CM . . . . Volume V Number 3 . . . . October 2, 1998

cover Creatures of the Sun: A Natural History of the Painted Turtle.

Susan Trow (Director), Tim Latchem & Kent Martin (Producers).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1997.
24 min., 15 sec., colour, VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9197002IEC003.

Subject Headings:
Turtles-North America.
Turtles-Ecology-North America.

Grades 4 and up / Ages 9 and up.
Review by Katie Cook.

*** /4

The subject of this video is the painted turtle. Starting with the words: "Over 200 million years ago...they were watching," this well-researched video takes viewers through the entire life-cycle of the painted turtle.

      We begin with a female turtle getting ready to rest on the bottom of the pond for the winter. You also see baby turtles in their nests. They actually freeze for the winter and thaw again in the spring. Emerging from the bottom of the pond, the turtles bask in the sun to speed up their metabolism. Courtship and mating are covered, and there is excellent footage of a female painted turtle laying her eggs in the nest. What turtles eat [and how they manage this action under water without drowning - they can close off their windpipes with their tongues], who eats them and man's impact on turtle life are also discussed.

      While useful for anyone doing research on the painted turtle, the subject matter fits the elementary science program exceptionally well. All information that students need to know is covered in this video, including explanations of terms when necessary. For example, turtles do not hibernate but spend the winter in "torpor." This concept is then explained in a manner that does not intrude. The information flows easily and logically from point to point.

      The narrator, Macha Grenon, has an excellent, well-modulated voice. Her pacing allows students to follow along and understand what they are seeing and hearing. The photography follows the turtles and the life in their pond. Excellent shots of pond life help the students understand what the narrator is explaining. Because most shots are at turtle level, the audience sees what the turtle sees. The music, never intrusive, complements the narration and does not overpower either the images or the narration.

      Science consultant Dr. Roger Bider is listed in the credits. The facts of the video have been well researched and presented. Viewers are not left feeling that they have been "presented" with facts but rather that they have learned much more than they previously knew about painted turtles.

      Documentation accompanying this video includes "turtle facts," questions for further study, classroom activities, and a list of suggested readings. Creatures of the Sun is heartily recommended.


Katie Cook is a social studies teacher and teacher-librarian at the Steinbach Regional Secondary School in Steinbach, Manitoba.

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

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364