Gr 3-6-Although Collard provides a basic introduction to other animals found on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, he concentrates on its variety of corals. In particular, he describes the mass spawning that occurs every spring. On one night, more than 100 species release millions of eggs and trillions of sperm. By morning, those coral from the same species have united to form thousands of larvae that drift on the ocean. Those that escape predators and reach a reef attach themselves and undergo a metamorphosis into a coral polyp. Brickman created colorful three-dimensional illustrations by painting and sculpting paper, and these layered textures work well with the subject. For example, hungry fish trying to eat larvae can barely be seen through the multicolored masses of tiny creatures floating around and over them. Although limited information about mass spawning appears in some books for older readers such as Collard's Lizard Island (Watts, 2000), most titles for younger readers about coral reefs provide a basic, general introduction to the ecosystem. Dorothy Hinshaw Patent's general overview in Colorful Captivating Coral Reefs (Walker, 2003) would work well with Collard's introduction to an amazing event that scientists discovered little more than 20 years ago.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
The creators of Beaks! (2002) nose out more wonders of nature with a visit to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. With Brickman's teeming marine scenes for visuals, done in intricately shaped and painted paper collage, Collard introduces a sampling of the vast array of tropical fish and other reef-dwelling fauna. Then in an awed tone, he describes the recently discovered and still unexplained mass spawning in which, on certain spring nights beneath a full moon, more than a hundred different species of corals simultaneously release vast clouds of sperm and trillions of egg packets. He goes on to trace the development of a single coral polyp from fertilization to a large colony ready for the next spawning. Readers will come away intrigued by the phenomenon and eager to check out the multimedia resources on the appended list. This stands out from the school of other reef tours on library shelves, both for its special focus and for its riveting illustrations. (index, glossary) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)