This unique book focuses on the fascinating study of molluscs by a world renowned scientist who has been blind since childhood. While exploring the colorful and exciting world of these creatures, readers also learn about how Dr. Geerat Vermeij grew to become a MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowship award winner for his valuable scientific work. This was accomplished without sight and through the use of touch, a questioning mind, Braille, and teachers and family members who recognized his potential and encouraged his...
This unique book focuses on the fascinating study of molluscs by a world renowned scientist who has been blind since childhood. While exploring the colorful and exciting world of these creatures, readers also learn about how Dr. Geerat Vermeij grew to become a MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowship award winner for his valuable scientific work. This was accomplished without sight and through the use of touch, a questioning mind, Braille, and teachers and family members who recognized his potential and encouraged his curiosity. This book takes young readers into the exciting world of purple sailor snails that float on rafts of bubbles they create and 500 pound clams that a child could fit in. Along the way, young readers will learn how Dr. Vermeij became interested in fossils, and how he traveled the world to exotic places to explore and answer questions about how life works and how and why animals have changed over time..
Although this book features the accomplishments of Dr. Vermiej in a manner that will inspire some children, it is notable for its beautiful photographs and scientific content that will appeal to young students. It includes interesting facts about molluscs and how they have developed and some of their surprising scientific names (such as Ba humbug and Abra cadabra !).
It has eye stalks and a wavy forelock of shell dipping onto its—forehead? Is that a conch? Who is Dr. Vermeij and what is a conch quest? Are those dots on the background of the cover image Braille? The glossy cover of this self-published book will entice children to explore its contents, but they will need adult help to realize this title's full potential. The authors have tried to present a scientist working in the field despite his lifelong blindness. The title makes the book seem like a biography, but the introductory text starts exploring mollusks and posing questions for the reader to ponder. Next, a tiny bit of information about Dr. Vermeij is doled out, followed by more information about types of mollusks. Despite the blurb on the back cover (which is written over a vivid color photograph and thus difficult to read), the book does not give quite enough information about either Dr. Vermeij or about mollusks. The matte photographs are very attractive; the photo of the nudibranch sea slug has a wonderful inset of a woman dressed as a Spanish dancer and children will easily get the connection between the dancer and the mollusk's moniker. The text is in a large, clear font, and much white space surrounds each text and photograph, but the unevenness of the flow of the information muddies the message. Although some words are italicized, they do not refer readers to a glossary, and a pronunciation guide, especially for the subject's Dutch name and for the numerous polysyllabic Latin species names, would have been helpful. There are no references of any kind provided. This book on its own is neither biography nor "friendly text" nonfiction and will leave youngsters unfulfilled as solo researchers, although it could be used as a browsing read. A teacher could use this book as an anticipatory set in a number of ways: as a unit depicting successful persons with disabilities, or a study of mollusks. It could also be paired with information about Mary Anning to introduce fossil mollusks, or with titles in the series "Scientists in the Field" (Houghton Mifflin) to talk about how scientists work, and could be augmented with Internet sources such as PBS' rich site to introduce Dr. Vermeij himself. This title is an additional purchase for collections with a need for such material. An accessible version is available on www.bookshare.org for individuals with qualified print disabilities. Reviewer: Shari Shaw