Exploring the World of Aquatic Life

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
I like the word, "exploring" in the title of this six-volume set. Exploring is an active word. It brings to mind rainy days in my childhood when I picked a random volume of an encyclopedia set to explore and discover all the things in the world that started with "t" or "m." I cannot help but wonder if children explore with books or solely computers nowadays The authors have exploring in mind with these books. Since many young readers do not have direct access to lakes, oceans, or aquariums, this set is a great way to explore aquatic worlds. The volumes include commonly known aquatic species as well as the never-seen-before, listed alphabetically by common names, from American paddlefish to wrasses. Also the books feature aquatic—not only marine—life, and include animals from salt water and freshwater habitats. The format is lively and colorful and lends itself well to exploration. While most articles feature one animal—Moray eel, paddlefish—some chapters explore a group of animals such as crabs, jellyfish, or sharks. Concentrating on all three different kinds of animals—invertebrates (animals without backbones), fish, and mammals—each volume begins with two family trees: invertebrates and fish/mammals, with cross references to each volume. Each volume includes a glossary of terms used throughout the set, "Further Resources" that details Internet and reading resources, plus a volume-specific index. Volume six includes a complete index. In turn, each individual article has a "Fact File" box detailing the classification along with facts about habitat, reproduction, size, color, diet, etc. Many articles include sidebars that provide specifics plus in-depthinformation, as well as "Did You Know" sidebars that give interesting facts about individual animals. All articles are illustrated with clear, close-up photography. That said, let us explore two critters in this set: one rare and not well known, one commonly known. Squat lobsters (Volume 6) are not true lobsters but more closely related to hermit crabs even though they do not shelter in discarded sea shells. These particular crustaceans have claws that are longer than their bodies. Squat lobsters hide by day and are active at night and can move very quickly over the sea bed. Some regularly swim to the surface, feeding on tiny plants. Like all crustaceans, they lay eggs that hatch into free-swimming larvae. The reader can tell by glancing at a color-coded flag at the top of the page that squat lobsters are invertebrates. The fact file gives infraorder, order, class, subphylum, and phylum names as well as size, coloration, diet, breeding, whether they are widespread throughout the planet, and whether they are a threatened species. The full-page illustration shows a bright purple, hairy squat lobster crawling on the sea floor. Minnows (Volume 4) is a commonly used term to describe tiny fish. This is confusing because some types of minnows are large! True minnows are particular kinds of small fish belonging to the carp family. The colored flag tells us that minnows are advanced bony fish. All minnows lack scales on their heads and have one single dorsal fin on their backs. They also lack sensory feelers—barbels—on their upper jaws around their mouths. The fact file tells readers the minnows' genera, family, subfamily, and order names, where they can be found, size, diet, and reproduction. Most species are common but a few are threatened and some may be extinct. The full-page illustration features a European minnow near the sea floor eating a worm. All in all, this set is a welcome addition to any classroom, school or public library. All six volumes would be a handy resource for school reports or for diving into before or after an aquarium visit or vacation. Text is well written, format is eye-catching, and illustrations and charts warrant lots of study. Let the exploring begin. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8

With its colorful photos, pleasant drawings, and plentiful sidebars, this exploration of numerous freshwater and marine creatures is attractive. A closer look reveals anomalies in organization, mainly caused by the set's alphabetical arrangement. For example, Atlantic salmon have a private niche in volume one and sockeye salmon surface in volume five, but there is no general entry for salmon. "Whales and Dolphins" is a section in volume six, but individual species pop up for air all over. Entries cover a spread and include a "Fact File" that lists the species' Latin name and its classification, the characteristics of its habitat, size, coloration, diet, breeding patterns, endangered status, and, in some cases, life span. The narrative portion of some entries is scientifically informative while in others it is merely chatty (material on the clown loach, for example, falls into the latter category). Coverage can be puzzling-a long spiel about malaria in the article on single-celled life, while informative, will leave readers wondering how the first mosquito picked up Plasmodium to start the cycle. Each volume contains an identical introduction, and family trees for invertebrates, and for fish and mammals (sirenians and cetaceans only). Each volume contains its own index, with a set index residing in the final volume. Browsable, but not essential.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604132557
  • Publisher: Facts on File, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/2008
  • Series: Exploring the World of Aquatic Life Series
  • Pages: 480
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 2.70 (d)

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