Underwater Nature Search.
The books are curious hybrids of Where's Waldo? and more conventional, straightforward nature books. Each features luscious spreads, loaded with visually-interesting details, many of which are too small to pick out readily with the naked eye--but are revealed when the hand lens is applied to the page, provided that the detective can find the proper focal distance that allows the difficult-to-see object to be revealed, while not losing it in a blur of tiny dots that make up the printed picture.
Both books have several spreads filled with factual information about the environments they're describing, intermingled with a number of puzzle spreads. Rainforest Nature Search includes lots of information on creatures found in the rainforest canopy, in mid-canopy, and near bodies of water. Underwater Nature Search has spreads on shallow waters, the coral reef, the Sargasso Sea, a harbor, the Izu Peninsula (japan), and the deep sea. I found that I liked the more educational spreads, while my children preferred the puzzle spreads. The pages are busy, since they are designed for hand-lens hide-and-seek, but they are well-organized.
I had some pedagogic questions about the puzzle spreads: in each book there is a spread of animals that "don't belong" in the environment the book is about: a dalmatian is depicted in the middle of the rain forest, a hippo and a penguin are shown under water at Izu Peninsula. The children are to use their hand lenses to spot these animals. To me, this went a little against logic and learning. Why have a puzzle filled with animals that "don't belong" in the middle of books that are trying to show children hundreds of animals that "do belong?"
Another quibble: though I'm far from an ichthyologist, I questioned whether all of the deep-sea fish shown on pages 20 and 21 of the undersea book would coexist at the same depth. Are flounder, giant squid and angler fish deep-sea neighbors? My uncertainty about that gave me a little bit of pause. (Editors note: WHOI biologist Jim Craddock suggests that this co-existence is, in fact possible, though "almost nobody" knows exactly where giant squid live, and there are many different kinds of flounder and |angler fish'). Also, the authors of the book are British. I wondered if some Britishisms might have been inadvertently left in by the US editors. For example, the flounder mentioned above is actually referred to in the text as a "plaice."
Nonetheless, the illustrations are really quite lovely, and hunting with the magnifying glass is a lot of fun. These books do give children a more-active-than-usual peek at two fascinating regions.
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jun 22, 1993|
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