The Case of the Monkeys That Fell from the Trees: And Other Mysteries in Tropical Nature

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Howling monkeys in the pantry eat the wrong leaves and fall from the trees? Ant-plant (bullhorn acacia) and the ant's army have an interdependent relationship? Passion vines with yellow dotted leaf dots mimic butterfly eggs and foils predators? Dart frog gets poison from the invertebrates it eats? This book provides a taste of the strange phenomenon harbored in the Latin and South American tropical forests. Eleven scientific investigations will intrigue readers as scientists unravel complex and fragile ecological interrelationships for continued life. Each dedicated scientist's research reveals mystical and complicated connections between plants, animals, and insects using the scientific method. The detailed writing of author Susan Quinlan effectively models the process—posing questions, describing observations, collecting data, drawing conclusions, and sharing results. There is a list of professional journals that report the original investigations and discoveries of the scientists contributing to the book, which is followed by an index. Pen-and-pencil drawings and maps compliment the text. The author leaves the reader with new perceptions about survival and she likens nature to a symphony of life, dependent on the existence of an orchestra of creatures and their interconnections. 2003, Boyds Mills Press,
— Barbara Troisi
VOYA
Quinlan uses her expertise as a wildlife biologist and tropical forest explorer to compile this collection of mysteries about various plants and animals indigenous to the tropics. The introduction and first two chapters provide a wealth of background information about the three different types of tropical forests and their characteristics, as well as the variety of species that inhabit them. Subsequent chapters present "mysteries" that scientists have attempted to solve to better understand the interrelatedness of tropical ecosystems. Topics include the title monkeys who mysteriously lose their grip and fall from trees, trees that house large colonies of ants for no apparent reason or benefit, plants that seemingly change their appearance to mimic other less-desirable plants, and several "mysteries" involving how seeds are spread and plants reproduce. Each chapter is illustrated with the author's pencil drawings, rich in detail and accuracy. The final chapter addresses the destruction of tropical forests and its impact on the many species of plants and animals that call the forest home. Each chapter cites specific research and presents the "mystery" in a way that is quite accessible to young readers, modeling the scientific method at work. A list of selected references is included and provides a valuable resource for further study of tropical forests. This excellent, entertaining text belongs on the science shelf of any library or classroom. Index. Illus. Maps. Biblio. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2003, Boyds Mills, 171p,
— MichelleWinship
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Scientists are the sleuths in these 12 ecological mysteries set in the tropical forests of Central and South America. Each chapter describes a puzzling natural phenomenon and details the research conducted to explain it. For example, in the title study, a biologist investigates the sudden death of seven apparently healthy howling monkeys. Other cases look at why ithomiine butterflies are attracted to army ant swarms and if islands of tropical forests left amid newly created pastures and croplands can be enough to sustain some forest wildlife. Only one question examined remains unsolved. Realistic pen-and-pencil drawings of flora and fauna are interspersed throughout the book. A minor flaw-while most of the drawings are of good quality, the few depictions of people are awkward. Two maps and a detailed bibliography of original source material are included. Quinlan's book is well organized and clearly written, with scientific terms and concepts explained as they appear. Besides presenting some fascinating case studies in a style that conveys the thrill of the scientific chase, it also provides information on the different kinds of tropical forests and how they function. While general introductions to tropical forests such as April Pulley Sayre's Tropical Rainforest (21st Century, 1995) are available, Monkeys is unique in its approach and will appeal to both students of natural history and browsers with a taste for the unusual.-Karey Wehner, formerly at San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Outstanding science writing and impressive scholarship make this a first choice for science enthusiasts. The author poses 11 ecological mysteries and carefully describes how scientists set about studying, experimenting, and testing various hypotheses to understand the rain forest. Along the way, she provides a detailed look at how contemporary field scientists work and gives the reader access to many specialized publications like Biotropica, Journal of Animal Ecology, and Toxicon, all carefully listed in the selected resources. As in her previous work, The Case of the Mummified Pig and Other Mysteries in Nature (1994), the author, a field biologist, introduces observations that puzzle scientists: Why do passionflower vines have leaves of different shapes? Where do poison-dart frogs get their poison? Or how come the ithomiine butterfly follows the army ants sipping from bird droppings? She then explains how scientists begin with an observation, develop a hypothesis, and then set up and conduct experiments to support or refute it. Individual mysteries are woven together to provide the reader with a better understanding of the complex and fragile ecosystem of the rain forest and to urge responsible stewardship. Intriguing and enriching. (extensive index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781563979026
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2003
  • Pages: 172
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 1210L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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