Monday, June 3, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: A selection of squirrels

 I'm continuing in my new weeding plan. Now that I've done comprehensive weeding of every area, I'm doing sustainable weeding - a few small sections at a time. I have an excel spreadsheet breaking each area down so once I complete an area I'll cycle back and start again. With the nonfiction especially, I'm weeding and replacing as I come across gaps and I just discovered we have only one outdated book on rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks. That's one book total! I added chipmunk books easily enough, but now I'm looking for books on squirrels and wild rabbits.

This is also a sign of how unbiased I am, since I am waging an eternal war with the squirrels and am much more interested in figuring out how to get rid of them than buying books about them. Gah.

So, the first title is part of the Backyard Wildlife series and is an easy reader. I looked at this series several years ago and bought a couple, but they're really too simple for what I want, plus an easy reader would end up in the easy readers and not in the nonfiction. Cross this one off the list.

 Next, we have a series called Backyard Safari. This is written by an author who's done a lot of Scholastic's True Books and it has a nice mixture of photos and text. However, it's more of an activity guide. It has kids collecting equipment and going on a "safari" to watch squirrels. I will merely say that no such extensive preparations are needed in this area - just come over to my house and I can provide you with 2-10 squirrels at any time and in any weather. I really want something that's just basic information about squirrels. Also, the background color of all the pages is yellow which strikes me as very odd.

The third book is from a series simply called Animals Animals and is the most text-heavy of the titles. It covers squirrels' life cycle, habitats, different species, and problems cohabiting with humans. There's no really solid solution given (not surprising, considering that nobody has ever really figured out how to deal with squirrels) but the author finishes by saying that most people like to watch squirrels and backyards would be very boring without them. Which I will admit is true enough.

The final title is in the Life Cycles series and is a very basic introduction to squirrels and their life cycle from birth, growing up, mating, and birth again. There's information on their habits and habitats and lots of photos and extra facts.

Verdict: I think the Backyard Wildlife series is far too expensive for the amount of text included and the National Geographic easy readers are far superior. The Backyard Safari series is interesting, but it is more focused on activities than information and it feels like a lot of work when you can just look out the window and see squirrels. The Animals Animals series has the most information and would be the best title for kids doing research and the Life Cycles series will be most quickly picked up by kids who just want to learn more about squirrels. I'll be purchasing the last two titles.

Backyard Wildlife: Squirrels by Derek Zobel
ISBN: 9781600144479; Published 2010 by Bellwether Media

Backyard Safari: Squirrels by Trudi Strain Trueit
ISBN: 9781608702480; Published 2011 by Marshall Cavendish

Animals Animals: Squirrels by Steven Otfinoski
ISBN: 9780761448433; Published 2011 by Marshall Cavendish

Life Cycles: Squirrels by Julie K. Lundgren
ISBN: 9781615903108; Published 2011 by Rourke Publishing

All titles borrowed from other libraries in my consortium


Ms. Yingling said...

Sylvie (my dog) says "If you must, you must." Maybe she will read up on squirrels so she can figure out how to keep me safe from the marauding hordes of them we had this weekend! (I've had a few fling themselves on my screens, upside down, and then lick the screens. Freaky.) But yes, a public library should have a few good titles!

Resh said...

I agree about the Nat Geo books, I think they are well balanced and give just the right amount of information to your readers without overwhelming them with too many facts. Learning about squirrels would be fun since we are seeing so many in our backyard! thanks for the suggestion.

Tammy Flanders said...

I loved how you included your reasoning for selection. Thanks for the synopsis and recommendation.
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