Gr 3–4—Aimed at recent graduates of the publisher's "True Books" series, these titles offer substantial but not intimidating quantities of specific information about the featured creatures' characteristics and life cycles. Each book also examines the animals' relatives of the past and present as well as natural and human threats to the species' survival. The accompanying photos are generally apt and well angled, with visible splashes of gore in Lions, Komodo Dragons, and Bald Eagles; the excitingly extreme close ups throughout Tarantulas are of particular note. Impressive back matter enhances each presentation.
- Heather Christensen
This title in the popular "Nature's Children" series from Scholastic features the panda bear. Though seriously endangered in the wild, this shy member of the bear family remains a beloved exhibit in zoos around the world. Students looking for information for reports will find many important facts such as classification, habitat, and diet on the "fact file" page in the front of the book. Five chapters provide more detailed information, and are divided into subtopics, with one covered on each two page spread. Did you know pandas like to do somersaults? This tidbit is found in one of the many "Fun Facts" text boxes sprinkled throughout the text. Zeiger writes in a simple, clear style perfectly suited for young readers. Each page focuses on a single topic, presented in narrative style on a white page for easier reading. Full color photographs of pandas accompany each page and are fully captioned. Students can see the panda habitat highlighted on a world map, look up difficult words in the glossary, or find additional resources (books and websites) about pandas. This is a well-organized, basic resource for primary grade animal research assignments. Reviewer: Heather Christensen