Komodo dragons are the largest lizard in the world and can grow up to ten feet long. They crawl on the ground and are good swimmers. More facts can be discovered about these stately, endangered creatures within this 24-page title that builds an awareness of the diversity of animal forms. Simple text and photographs inform younger readers about the Komodo dragon's looks, where they live, and what they do. Close-up photographs complement the text and reveal the Komodo dragon's regal stature and body texture within their natural habitat. Pictures revealing the reptile's sticky mouth, forked tongue, and the Komodo dragon eating its prey may not be enjoyed by all. One photograph showcases a hatchling emerging and will fascinate the reader. The repetition of language and phrases in the content help early readers learn new words. The text introduces subject-specific vocabulary words such as claws, predators, lifespan, and Indonesia, which are defined in the glossary but not shown in bold print within the text. The reptile titles in this "Pebble Plus" series contain text features that support young readers' understanding of the nonfiction text. Although each of the life cycle diagrams in this series contain the same information, not all begin with hatchlings, which may cause confusion for some readers when making comparisons. Early readers may need assistance with some words and help using the table of contents, the glossary, the "Read More" section, the internet site (Facthound, a Capstone sponsored web portal), and the index of the book. Reviewer: Laura Backman
Children's Literature - Laura Backman
Gr 1-3–The reptiles in this series, some of which are kept as pets, are explored and photographed in their natural, exotic habitats. The books provide rudimentary introductions to the creatures through spreads that feature one or two simply written sentences opposite a full-page photograph. Geckos, for instance, describes the lizards as making a “squeaky noise” and having “sticky toes.” Gila Monsters informs readers that the creature’s bite is poisonous and that it can have a 20-year lifespan. Each title includes a range map. Some graphic photos are included, such as one in Chameleons that shows the creature swallowing another lizard, and another in Horned Lizards that depicts the animal after it has shot blood from its eyes as a defense. Though the photographs are well reproduced, the titles have a muted appearance and an old-fashioned layout. Extras in each book include a “Life Cycle” illustration and a recommendation to use the publisher’s Fact Hound Web site, which offers related Internet resources. Readers may be drawn to this series to learn more about uncommon reptiles, but the books lack visual appeal.