Whales are amazing, as this book amply demonstrates. Every page reveals another eye-opening fact. "Whales are the largest creatures ever to live on Earth. They have the biggest brains....They are the longest, heaviest, loudest, farthest-swimming, deepest-diving animals in the world. They also eat more and grow faster than any other creatures on Earth." Wow! And they become more fascinating after the first two pages. Although it is commonly known that whales are mammals, cetaceans, the author explains how they evolved from landlubbers to sea dwellers. He discusses how whales have adapted to their environment, including how they breathe and move around. Readers learn that they are divided into baleen and toothed whales, each having different foods and feeding habits. We learn about their migration and life cycle and get to see some of the better-known types "up close and personal." Whales are endangered, decimated by human predators who have slaughtered and continue to slaughter huge numbers and are threatened by increasing pollution. Hunting bans honored by most countries, however, have allowed most whale species to slowly increase. The author's facility and clarity of expression are complemented by the book's colorful photographs, tables, and other graphic devices. A glossary and "species index" are very helpful as is the index, although its second page was missing in this copy. This small detail doesn't affect the book's excellence. It is part of "AnimalWays," a series that seems designed to make every reader an animal advocate. 2003, Benchmark Books/Marshall Cavendish, Butts
Gr 2-3–Each of these titles focuses on an endangered animal, although status is not the overriding emphasis. Instead, the books’ three chapters reveal the creatures’ habitats, characteristics, diet, and parenting techniques, often providing fun facts that are not found in other similar books. Readers will learn, for example, that grooming helps chimpanzees feel calm, that whales are divided into two groups–those with teeth and those without–and that lions catch their prey only by ambush, not by running. The straightforward presentation of the information and the uncluttered and attractive layout make these books good choices for reports. Color photographs, while not outstanding, are well utilized and complete a solid package. This is a good series for replacing older books or supplementing existing collections.