Book review – Animal attack and defence series

PRYOR, Kimberley Jane Amazing Armor ISBN 978-0-7614-4424-4. LC 2009004996.
PRYOR, Kimberley Jane Clever Camouflage ISBN 978-0-7614-4420-6. LC 2009004997.
PRYOR, Kimberley Jane Mimicry and Relationships ISBN 978-0-7614-4421-3. LC 2009004995.
PRYOR, Kimberley Jane Tricky Behavior ISBN 978-0-7614-4425-1. LC 2009004993.
PRYOR, Kimberley Jane Venom, Poison, and Electricity ISBN 978-0-7614-4422-0. LC 2009004994.
PRYOR, Kimberley Jane Warning Colors ISBN 978-0-7614-4419-0. LC 2009004992. ea vol: 32p. (Animal Attack and Defense Series). photos. reprods. glossary. index. CIP. Marshall Cavendish/Benchmark 2009. PLB $19.95.

Gr 1-3–This high-interest series offers a comprehensive overview of nature’s ingenuity when it comes to staying safe. The information is divided into spreads that highlight a way in which animals protect themselves. For example, Armor discusses “Harmful Horns and Antlers” and “Slashing Claws and Talons,” with each page covering one animal. An information box of “Vital Statistics” mentions the creature’s length, habitat, distribution, and predators. Secondary boxes on the specific attack or defense mechanism (such as one on a snake’s pattern in Camouflage) sometimes add to the text, although they often repeat information. The well-organized books are enhanced by color photographs showing the animals at their cunning best. Each title concludes with an animal that benefits from “Double Defense,” incorporating a mechanism covered in more than one book. These case studies seamlessly link the volumes together and will ensure browsing.

Given that mankind seems intent on slowly destroying the habitats of many species of flora and fauna, series such as this one are increasingly important. Macmillan’s Animal Attack and Defence Series is clearly aimed at Foundation phase pupils. We reviewed Clever Camouflage, Tricky Behaviour, Mimicry and Relationships and Amazing Armour.

As these titles suggest, each book considers how animals have evolved ingenious ways to protect themselves over the centuries. In Amazing Armour, the chapter headings include ‘Harmful horns and antlers’, ‘Fearsome fangs and teeth’ and ‘Slashing claws and talons’. Each page delivers interesting statistics and descriptive information. Author Kimberley Jane Pryor has taken care to keep each text piece short and simple, and words that are in bold can be looked up in the glossary.

The real beauty of the series, though, is the photography. Pictures are all in colour, large enough to get a sense of the size of each creature, and some are very scary! It’s not just the large or lethal animals either – Pryor has also included fascinating discussions of fauna like clams and chitons.

In Mimicry and Relationships, learners can get a sense of nature’s sheer genius; the larger implication is that we must all, to some degree, work together if the planet is to survive. A wonderfully energetic and colourful series for the young – many of whom may live in areas where they will never see such creatures. For other, luckier students – a good read before a trip to the zoo, perhaps.

Independent Education

The Official magazine of the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa

Book Reviews – Spring 2010 Edition

Amazing armor

Clever camouflage

Mimicry and Relationships

Tricky Behavior

Venom, Poison, and Electricity

Warning Colors


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