One thing that stays pretty standard when you see kids go through a school library is that they love books about animals, especially dangerous ones. It can be challenging to find books that are a good mix of bold photography as well as information that a younger child can understand. For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised when I read through two new books from Tilbury Press as part of their “How Nature Works” series.
*Note – I received these books from the publisher in return for an honest review.
One Iguana, Two Iguanas: A Story of Accident, Natural Selection, and Evolution is one of the better books about animals that I have seen. I will admit that animal books are not ones that I personally gravitate toward, so there has to be more to it. This book not only has fabulous photography, but informs kids about natural selection and the studies done by Darwin.
As the publisher’s note says, “natural selection and speciation are all but ignored in children’s nonfiction. Collard traveled to the Galapagos Islands to see for himself, where Charles Darwin saw, how new species form. The result is this fascinating story of two species of iguana, one land-based and one marine, both of which developed from a single ancestor that reached the islands millions of years ago.”
I honestly didn’t know much about the Galapagos Islands until I discovered Jason Chin’s book, Island: The Story of the Galapagos. Understanding Darwin’s concepts as seen from this unusual island grouping brought the idea of natural selection and evolution to life. Sneed B. Collard, III manages to do the same thing but focusing on how iguanas developed and responded to environmental situations. What is wonderful is that the “story” is readable and accessible to a wide audience. I’m not surprised at all that this book is a Junior Library Guild selection.
Don’t Mess With Me: The Strange Lives of Venomous Sea Creatures is another book that will capture the attention of many young animal lovers. This book looks at the idea of venomous and poisonous animals (and tells you the difference between venomous and poisonous) and tells you about 28 of them.
The photographs were absolutely fascinating, especially when seemingly pretty looking creatures eat their pray whole. I found the jellyfish particularly interesting, especially the concept of them using their tentacles as a way to inject venom into their prey and bring it up to the “mothership” to be ingested. Most of these creatures are things I have never heard of, but with a child fascinated by marine biology, this is definitely a useful book.
One thing that was great with both of these books is the fact that they included additional information for older readers in boxes and side notes, many marked with “how nature works.” One example from Don’t Mess With Me has to do with how a scientist is experimenting with cone snail venom as a pain reliever. In One Iguana, Two Iguana, the information is about other animals that developed on the islands as well as the scientific backgrounds on how the data was discovered as well as how genes work.
These are a great addition to any nonfiction science shelf!
As in years past, I am participating in the amazing round-up of nonfiction books hosted by Alyson Beecher of Kit Lit Frenzy. It is a great way to find new nonfiction books and see what others are reading and inspired by.
Thank you for joining in again! Looking forward to all of the new NF to come. 🙂