Monday, November 9, 2015

Nonfiction Monday: Frogs by Seymour Simon

I am not a huge fan of Seymour Simon. I know, I know, heresy! Everyone loves Seymour Simon! It's not that his books are bad or lacking in quality, it's just that they're not quite what I need when I'm looking for elementary nonfiction.

A one-page author's note begins the book, explaining Simon's background as a teacher and interest in explaining the world around him. The book starts with a basic explanation of the characteristics of amphibians, then describes the different habits and habitats of some of the different species. More information about the amphibians is woven into the text describing the various types of frogs.

The text is illustrated with large, often full page photos of frogs in different stages of development and of different species in action. The last few pages of the book describe familiar species of frogs in more detail. The final two spreads discuss the importance of frogs in global climate change and conservation.

Words in the text highlighted in bold can be found in the back in a short glossary. There is also a brief index and links to websites for learning more - Seymour Simon's website, a conservation website for frogs, and the National Wildlife Federation.

So, what's not to like? Large font, gorgeous photographs, excellent expository writing. Well, the problem for me is the layout. In a school library, this would be an ideal book to recommend to an elementary school reader. But in my library, the large chunks of text - usually a whole page or more - will discourage younger readers or parents from picking up the book to read aloud or struggle through on their own. Elementary-age readers who can read this on their own are reluctant to pick up books that look like picture books. This is a weird peculiarity of my own town it seems, but one I've not been successful in getting over. A popular animal book like this one will probably circulate well, but Nic Bishop's titles, with less text and more photographs, have a wider audience.

Verdict: If you need more frog books and have a strong elementary audience for nonfiction, this is a perfectly good selection. If you're a school library, I'd say it's a definite purchase. For my library, it's an additional purchase that I'll add if the budget allows.

ISBN: 9780062289124; Published 2015 by HarperCollins; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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