From School Library Journal
Grade 1-3?While this book's concept is a good one, its execution is not entirely successful. Rice presents a selection of plants and animals, arranged according to longevity, in order to give children a perspective of each living thing's place and importance in the web of life. The author begins with a mayfly, which lives about one day, and continues chronologically through a saguaro cactus, which lives about 100 years, before branching out into lifetimes that are uncertain (a banyon [sic] tree) and astronomical (the Earth is now thought to be four and a half billion years old). The text is preachy and didactic, the layout is often distracting, and the illustrations are inconsistent in quality. There is a running white band across the bottom of every page with three chimps, one holding a banana, one covering his ears, and one reading a book. The first signals a sharing activity readers that may engage in, the second a question to ponder, and the third a research question. This device totally detracts from both the information and artwork in the body of the text.?Megan McGuire, Lake View Elementary School, Madison, WI
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 3-6. Clearly designed for classroom use, this colorful book focuses on individual animals, plants, and astronomical bodies. Each page or two introduces a new subject, tells its life span, discusses its characteristics, defines what it "teaches" us, and suggests related ideas for readers to tell about, think about, and look up. For instance, elephants live about 65 years, weep when "very, very sad," and "remind us to be kind and gentle, especially to those who are not as big or smart as we are." Children are encouraged to tell about another animal they have seen showing emotion, think about how an insect or lizard feels when kept in a jar, or, on a more prosaic note, look up the differences between African and Indian elephants. The emphasis on learning lessons from nature may strike some as too values-based, but others will respond warmly to Rice's approach. Michael S. Maydak's handsome paintings add to the book's appeal. Carolyn Phelan
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