Monday, March 9, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Zoology for kids by Josh and Bethanie Hestermann

Kids who are fascinated with animals will love this introduction to zoologists which, as the subtitle says, covers both "Understanding and Working with Animals."

The book opens with an introduction from the Kratt brothers and the co-authors, followed by a timeline of somewhat random events, from the opening of zoos to the contributions of people in the field.

The main text of the book starts with a brief introduction defining zoology, then jumps into the first chapter that defines animals. Readers are warned that this is a little dense, and it is challenging, discussing cells, species, types of animals, and various special skills like echolocation. The next chapter explains animal behavior; life cycles, communication, and more. The third chapter explains how animals relate to and are intertwined with their environments, the concept of biomes, neighborhoods, and food chains. This is the first part of the book.

The second part of the book is much less dry with lots of stories and real-life anecdotes about animals and the zoologists who work with them. There are chapters on zookeepers, veterinarians, wildlife researchers, and conservationists. Each chapter explains in detail what the jobs entail, including education requirements, typical daily life on the job, and interviews with real zoologists and scientists. Each chapter ends with talking about the different careers available in the field and the best preparation for them. I appreciated that they included all the many different support positions, like groundskeepers and receptionists, that are included in the field.

Back matter includes acknowledgements, a detailed glossary, resources (various organizations), selected bibliography, and index. Hands-on projects are included in each chapter, ranging from creating your own species survival game (yes, this is a little morbid) to performing your own backyard animal research to playing an echolocation game. Additional information is included in charts and offset paragraphs throughout the book.

This isn't a book for a casual browser or a struggling reader. The text is fairly dense and the vocabulary challenging. The authors are honest about the difficulties and competition you will face in trying for a career as a zoologist. However, it's well-written, informative, and provides a wealth of information in an attractive format.

Verdict: Motivated animal lovers will devour this book, especially if they're serious about pursuing a career as a zoologist. Teachers will appreciate the variety of hands-on projects, which are suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities, and will want to use this as a resource. Although this won't have the high circulation numbers of, say, a National Geographic factoid book, it's a needed purchase for any library looking to balance their animal collection with some challenging, thorough resource materials.

ISBN: 9781613749616; Published 2015 by Chicago Review Press/IPG; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

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