Frog Heaven: Ecology of a Vernal Pool
This thoroughly researched book introduces a vernal pool in the woods of Delaware and documents the ecology of this unique habitat during the cycle of a year. Beginning with autumn, clear, detailed chapters focus on each season, describing physical changes to the pond (from dry, to wet, to ice-covered, to wet again), the creatures that breed and live there (including many types of insects and amphibians), and plant life. Throughout, Wechsler highlights the ways in which various species are interrelated and their role in the food web. The last section discusses the importance of these pools and how to prevent them from being destroyed. The full-color photographs vividly bring this environment to life by combining images of the changing pond with close-up pictures of its varied inhabitants. [From School Library Journal, 2006. By Christine Markley, Washington Elementary School, Barto, PA]
Despite the plethora of books about frogs available for children, this series offering is worth consideration. The majority of the text and pictures are about the growth and development of tadpoles. The full-color photographs are of excellent quality. Directions for collecting and keeping tadpoles are included, though the job of caring for them will daunt all but the most avid frog fans. Several science projects are outlined and a list of sources for frog eggs and tadpole supplies is included. Unfamiliar words are often explained in context but not highlighted and sometimes the dense text and vivid pictures can make the pages seem too cramped. On the whole, however, given this book's particular and thorough emphasis on young frogs, most libraries will find it useful. [From School Library Journal, 1996. By Ellen M. Riordan, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore, MD]
It's a Frog's life!
An accessible scrapbook look and the frog narrator's conversational tone distinguish Parker's (the Creepy Creatures series) insider view of how the green amphibians stay moist, reproduce, avoid predators and find food. Text that looks hand-lettered, photos (drawings tipped as if with pseudo-photo corners) and botanical drawings of a snowdrop, a heron feather and a lily pad — meant to appear as if taped to the pages — create a varied format (though the colors and reproductions look a bit textbook-ish). One sequence of photos shows Greedy, an African bush squeaker, making a fly disappear: Hunh! I can do that tongue trick, too! scoffs the narrator. The book's format and Parker's jokiness and plentiful exclamation points are a nod to Amelia's Notebook, but this one's clearly for frog fans. [From Publishers Weekly, 1999.]
What is an Amphibian?
The large, full-color photographs and illustrations that pepper every page of these books will catch the eye of browsers but it is the informative, easy-to-read texts that will hold their interest. Both titles contain basic facts about the animals as a group and identify specific members. They also relate information on the “family trees,” bodies, and habitats of these creatures. While there is not enough information for reports on an individual animal, children can use these titles to research these groups of creatures. Dimensions are provided in both English and metric measurements. Although Barry Clarke's Amphibian (1993) and Colin McCarthy's Reptile (1991, both Knopf) are better illustrated, the language and organization of Kalman and Langille's titles will draw even the most reluctant of readers. [From School Library Journal, 2000. By Dona J. Helmer, College Gate School Library, Anchorage, AK]
Reptiles and Amphibians
Reviewed with Edward Parker's Rain Forest Mammals. Parker's amazing close-up color photographs of animals in the wild will draw a wide audience for these extra-large books in the Rain Forest series, and the attractive magazine design, with clear type and lots of boxes and subheads, will keep readers browsing. Each book discusses the animal groups, their diverse habitats, and the urgent need for preventing the rain forests from being destroyed. Along with general issues are fascinating facts about individual creatures, from the fringed gecko of Madagascar to the eyelash viper of South and Central America. Parker's focus is on the Amazon rain forest, but he includes wonderful, detailed examples from across the world (though he's not quite at home in Africa's rain forest, since he makes the mistake of placing tigers there). Young ecologists will be hooked by the zoology and by the global cause, whether the threat is from water pollution, forest clearing, or the market for animal skins. Each book has a lengthy glossary, a short bibliography, and a list of organizations. [From Booklist, 2002. By Hazel Rochman]
What is an Amphibian?
This is a multi-book review: SEE also the title What Is a Mammal?. Stunning color photographs by Oxford Scientific Films, clear diagrams, and succinct texts distinguish these new offerings in the Sierra Club Books for Children series. Amphibian begins with a discussion of the order's common characteristics and its three major families — salamanders and newts, frogs and toads, and caecilians. Snedden also describes life cycles, respiration, the senses, locomotion, feeding, temperature control, and defense mechanisms. Mammal also begins with an overview of characteristics, followed by sections describing fur and hair, temperature control, life cycles, locomotion, teeth and jaws, and the senses. The layout is particularly appealing: each topic is presented in a double-page spread containing text, captioned photographs, diagrams, and boxed insets. Boldface words are explained in the text and defined in the appended glossary. An excellent resource for classes studying animals or classification; Snedden's earlier titles in this series include What Is a Fish? (1993), What Is a Bird? (1993), and What Is an Insect? (1993). [From Booklist, 1994. By Kay Weisman]
Succinct texts describe the major characteristics shared by all members of the respective phyla and classes; distinctive traits of progressively smaller groups, such as orders, suborders, and superfamilies; their habitats; life cycles; diets; reproductive methods, etc. The last section in each title briefly discusses threats to the subject animals' survival and conservation efforts. One sidebar, virtually the same in all three titles, gives a short explanation of the classification system. One or two fine-quality, color close-up photos of representative species accompany the text on almost every page, and extended captions identify most species by both common and scientific names. Each title also includes a few drawings and diagrams, a detailed classification chart, and a list of related Web sites. All three titles are precisely written, with unusual scientific terms defined as they appear. They all place greater emphasis on the animals' classification than Sally Morgan's Amphibians, Ruth Miller's Arthopods (both Raintree, 2004), and Steve Parker's Angelfish, Megamouth Sharks & Other Fish (Compass Point, 2005) and offer more detail on anatomy and reproduction. Serious students of biology will find these titles invaluable. [From School Library Journal, 2006. By Karey Wehner, formerly at San Francisco Public Library]
From Tadpole to Frog
An introduction to the life cycle of frogs, with additional facts about individual species on the last two pages. Sentences are simple, with questions and exclamations to help break up the informative text. Keller's clean, clear watercolor illustrations, similar in style to those of Nancy Tafuri, show a variety of pond animals and plant life through the seasons. Other books on this topic are generally geared to older readers, making this attractive picture book a good starting point for beginning readers interested in nature. [From School Library Journal, 1994. By Sandra Welzenbach, H.K. Williams Elementary School, San Antonio, TX]