Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review - Life Cycle Series

For young readers there are some exciting new series books that explore animal life cycles. Both are small in dimension (7" x 6") and fit nicely into little hands.

From Lerner Publishing comes the series First Step Nonfiction - Animal Life Cycles. Books in this series introduce readers to deer, dragonflies, grasshoppers, robins, salamanders, and worms. Written with emerging readers in mind, the books use short, simple sentences and glossy, full-color photographs. At 24 pages they're just the right length to hold interest and provide information.

The text contains a number of highlighted words that appear in the book's glossary. Here's an example.
A robin is a bird, like a duck or an owl.
In the glossary readers will find a picture of a bird (the robin) with this definition.
bird - an animal that lays eggs and has wings and feathers
The final pages of the book contain an illustrated diagrams of a robin highlighting major body parts. Also included are robin facts and and index.

From Capstone Press comes the series Watch It Grow. Books in this series introduce readers to goldfish, mealworms, milkweed bugs, painted lady butterflies, pillbugs, silkworms, and snails. Also designed with emerging readers in mind, the books combine simple, easy to read sentences with color photographs, many of them labeled to highlight features described in the text. The books in this series contain an important note for parents and teachers. Here's the one from the Snails book.
The Watch it Grow set supports national science standards related to life science. This book describes and illustrated apple snails. The images support early readers in understanding the text. The repetition of words and phrases helps early readers learn new words. This book also introduces early readers to subject-specific vocabulary words, where are defined in the Glossary section. Early readers may need assistance to read some words and to use the Table of Contents, Glossary, Read More, Internet Sites, and Index sections of the book.
There is a lot of information packed into the 24 pages of the books in this series. Unlike the Lerner series which contains a photo on and text on every page, these books contain a full-page photograph on the left side of every spread with accompanying text on the right. Here is how the snail book begins.
What Are Snails?
Snails are invertebrates.
They have a soft body
and a hard shell.
Apple snails live in water.
They change as they grow.
The phases of the life cycle are divided into sections in the book, so readers move from the introduction to snails to From Egg to Hatchling and then to From Hatchling to Adult.

The Goldfish book is just as interesting, though divided differently because of the stages in the life cycle of a goldfish. This one contains the sections Metamorphosis, From Egg to Larva, From Larva to Fry, and From Fry to Adult. The pictures of the goldfish larvae are fascinating, and made me wonder how the photographer managed to capture the tiny creatures. The photo on page 12 is a bit blurry, but otherwise the images all standout and do a fine job of supporting the text.

Both of these series would be fine additions to nonfiction collections and are excellent resources for young readers.

Source of Books: Review copies received from publisher.

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