Monday, August 25, 2014

Non-Fiction Monday: Polar Animals by Susan Hayes and Tory Gordon-Harris

Polar Animals by Susan Hayes and Tory Gordon-Harris. Scholastic Discover More series. 80 p. Scholastic Inc., June, 2014. 9780545667777. (Finished copy courtesy of publisher for review.)

I love this series. It is consistently pleasing and informative. I think this one is my favorite so far. Polar Animals contains a spectacular collection of arresting, full-color photographs and is jam-packed with fun and interesting tidbits such as the fact that a walrus' skin is white while it is swimming in the sea. When on land, the blood flows to the skin, turning its color. It would've been kinda cool to see a photograph of that though. 

Some of the factoids made me wish for more, such as the fact that the wandering albatross travels 9,300 miles to bring food back to their young. I mean, what does the poor nestling do in the meantime? I suppose that it takes quite a while to travel those 9,300 miles. Enough time to starve to death? But there's really no room for full-stories in this series, which provides overviews of topics. Hopefully, young readers will do further research when questions like this pop up. I, for one, have jotted it down to find out later. And really, isn't that the fun of research?

Then again, the page about a polar bear cub's first year seemed to be a bit of a filler. Specifically, #2, entitled, leaving the den - mama bear digs her way out of the snow den in the spring and her cubs follow her. Well, of course. The caption ends with, "They have never been outside before." Well, duh! Surely there were more educative bits that could've been written here? Like, what are the dangers to the cubs during this time, or, what about the father polar bear, or, do they eat what the mama bear kills right away or does she chew the food up and regurgitate it for a while?

Still, that's just one page out of 80, so I do quibble. Our fifth graders do a unit on the Polar regions and this one will fit right in. While it won't provide everything they will need for report writing, it's an enticing introduction to the subject. Reluctant or struggling readers will be engaged. Browsers and fact-hounds will gobble it whole and ask for more. Keep 'em coming Scholastic.

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