Monday, August 24, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Curious About Fishes by Elizabeth Bennett

This is an awesome book with one serious flaw. However, more on that later...

This is the first in a new series called Curious About... and features a unique method of teaching kids; x-rays! Each spread talks about a different aspect of fishes, illustrated by both a live fish and a x-ray that clearly demonstrates the trait under discussion. So a spread talking about gills shows, on the left, a brilliantly-colored school of snappers and on the right, against a black background, the text and an x-ray of a red dory illustrating the skeletal plate protecting the gills.

Additional facts are sprinkled throughout the book and at the back there's a key to the specimens that provided the x-rays and a glossary. The text is intermediate, simple enough to read aloud to a class of children, but complex enough to challenge a 1st or 2nd grader. It's a fascinating look at the anatomy of various fishes with lots of attractive photographs, excellent text, and a nice layout.

So, what's wrong with it? Well....this series is only available in paperback. Now, I will buy some nonfiction in paperback (and I'm pretty lonely in that decision - my director still looks askance at me about it) but I absolutely won't buy popular, i.e. animal, books in paperback. They'd disintegrate at the first little sticky hand or disappear the minute they're put onto the shelf, sliding back between the bigger books. Hopefully, when more of the series is released it will be available in a prebound edition.

Verdict: This would make a great addition to a homeschool curriculum or to add to your prize books (you DO offer nonfiction prize books, yes?) but until a hardcover version is available I couldn't recommend it to a library with any kind of decent circulation. It's too bad because it's a really great idea and I loved the book.

ISBN: 9780448484624; Published 2015 by Grosset & Dunlap (Penguin); Review copy provided by publisher; Donated to summer prize books

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