REVIEWS: Children’s books

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1995:

From Simon & Schuster (1230 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY 10020):
Animals Under Cover, by Stephen Savage. $10.95 hardcover.
My First Pop-Up Book of Prehistoric Animals,
illustrated by Roma Bishop. $12.95 hardcover.
Nature by the Numbers With Pop-Up Surprises,
by Lynette Ruschak, art by G.B. McIntosh. $12.95 hardcover.
Wetlands, by Downs Matthews, photos by Dan Guravich. $15.00 hardcover.
From Scholastic (555 Broadway, New York, NY 10012):
All About Alligators, written and illustrated by Jim Arnosky. $14.95 hardcover.
Bats: Night Fliers
by Betsy Maestro, illustrated by Giulio Maestro. $14.95 hardcover.
Fur, Feathers, and Flippers: How Animals Live Where They Do,
by Patricia Lauber. $16.95 hardcover.

It’s easy to criticize pop-up books
as a gimmick produced by the divorce of
book-as-commodity from the tradition of
book-as-content, but three new nature titles
from Simon & Schuster use the gimmick to
enhance the content. In Animals Under
Cover, only the three-dimensional aspect dis-
tinguishes a variety of creatures from their
habitat, memorably introducing small chil-
dren to camoflauge. Prehistoric Animals
uses the third dimension to portray some of
the more charismatic mammals of the epoch
between the demise of the dinosaurs and
modern times, e.g. the woolly mammoth,
the sabretoothed tiger, and the giant sloth.
Nature by the Numbers is a rather conven-
tional introduction to counting, but the pop-
up format makes it more interesting, as two
buds become two daffodils, three eggs
become three ostriches, etcetera. The art and
paper engineering are especially noteworthy.
Scholastic does a better job of pre-
senting basic ecology for somewhat older
children. Downs Matthews’ W e t l a n d s, the
Simon & Schuster offering, advances the
perspectives of 1960, suggesting for instance
that, “If wetlands disappear, our favorite
seafood will disappear too.” There are more
ecologically important roles for wetlands,
and, for that matter, more critical roles for
the creatures dismissed as mere seafood.
Patricia Lauber’s Fur, Feathers, and
F l i p p e r s by contrast takes advantage of new
information while covering even more eco-
logical concepts. Also new in the fast-grow-
ing Scholastic nature collection, Jim
Arnosky and Betsy and Giulio Maestro offer
in-depth knowledge of much maligned but
little-known alligators and bats, respectively.
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