Mention earthworms, parasitic roundworms, and leeches and people's initial reactions are often "yuk!" But hand this beautifully illustrated book, part of the "Animal Kingdom Classification" series, to young readers and minds are bound to change. From the common earthworm (nature's master recycler) to marine tube worms that look more like beautiful, exotic flowers, these are amazing critters that can be found almost everywhere. Well-written text takes the reader past the often slimy exteriors (that slime has some amazing uses!) to the inside anatomy, then reproduction, locomotion, habitats, and feeding behavior. Since there are about a dozen types, or phyla, of worm-like creatures, many chapters feature the diversity of worm heads, worm bodies, and worm behavior. Did you know that the world's longest critter is not a whale or snake, but a ribbon worm, which can grow to be as long as nine elephants standing in a line? Or, that the beard worm, named after the mass of tentacles or "beard" at the head end, are among the slimmest of worms? They are just 1/2 inch wide and look more like a piece of wire. The final chapter, "Worm Mysteries," explains when a worm is not a worm. The book includes an animal classification chart, a glossary, an index, and a list of further resources. 2006, Capstone/Compass Point Books, Ages 9 to 12.
Gr 4-6-Dozens of invertebrates with fantastic shapes and bizarre behaviors are featured in these broad surveys. Concise paragraphs of text, buttressed (in most sections) by multiple color photographs, identify the major groups to which the subject animals belong and describe their physical and behavioral characteristics. The books also touch on their natural habitats, diets and feeding habits, defense mechanisms, reproductive methods, and the development of young. Anywhere from one to nine sharp color photographs of representative species complement the texts; most have extended captions that describe distinctive characteristics. Also included are diagrams of major body parts and internal organs and a simple classification chart. All three titles have smoothly written, well-organized texts and a wider scope than most introductions to the subjects. For instance, Gilpin surveys all seven classes of mollusks, while other books aimed at this audience typically focus on the more familiar classes, such as gastropods (slugs and snails) or cephalopods (cuttlefish, squids, and octopuses). And, while Sally Morgan's Sponges and Other Minor Phyla (Raintree, 2004) covers similar material and offers a bit more detail on the classification of some of the same simple animals, the Parker titles describe-and depict-a greater number and variety of invertebrate phyla. With their succinct texts and colorful formats, all three volumes will appeal to students and browsers alike.-Karey Wehner, formerly at San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.