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Children's LiteratureWhile Kate and her father take a walk in a Pacific rain forest, he explains why he calls it a "salmon forest." This is a life cycle book disguised as a story so readers see how interdependent the salmon are with the forest, the bacteria, the bugs, and the bears. Kate and her father call this a merry-go-round, a concept that young children may use to visualize how the salmon spawn and die. Then salmon offspring make use of the bugs that arise from the maggots that eat the carrion as food when they hatch. Or that the bear who eats the salmon then poops and the bugs that spawn there become food for the songbirds. There is plenty crammed into this story, including a family that is harvesting the salmon and smoking, drying, salting, or cooking them. While the text gives them no specific tribal name, the mother refers to "our people" and says they are called "the fish people." Lott's watercolors suggest the beautiful colors of salmon in the water and the splotchy light of the forest in summer when the salmon spawn. Brenda Guiberson's Salmon Story (Holt, 1993) and Molly Cone's Come Back, Salmon (Sierra Club, 1992) are for a slightly older reader and discuss the practices that have endangered the natural spawning of the salmon. But the artful presentation and the enjoyable day in the woods make this life cycle book easy for young listeners to enjoy. A recipe for teriyaki salmon is included as well as a short glossary, but which leaves readers wondering, when father says that salmon at sea eat needlefish, herring, and something called oolichan, what that last one looks like. 2003, David Suzuki Foundation/Greystone Books, Ages 5 to 8.
— Susan Hepler, Ph.D.