THE SHELL BOOK by Barbara Hirsch  Lember


Age Range: 7 - 11
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 Lember (A Book of Fruit, 1994) presents portraits of 14 sea shells--common to rare--with brief accompanying text in this subtle celebration of art in nature. The shells have names that recall prize roses: Chestnut Cowrie, Giant Keyhole Limpet, Lettered Olive, Katharine's Chiton, Lion's Paw, etc. For each, Lember has hand-tinted a black-and- white photograph of a single empty shell against a textured background, e.g., the open blue mussel shell nestles in the curve of a piece of driftwood, with the pattern of the wood repeated in the dark exterior of the shell. Borders of buff, ecru, slate, sea foam, or peach frame the photographs and text and complement the colors of the shells. Some of the odd facts intrigue, e.g., that the yellow secretions of one creature became the rich purple dye for the robes of Roman senators. The text assumes some prior knowledge of sea creatures who once inhabited the now-empty shells; Lember notes without explanation that conchs are mollusks propelling themselves with their strong foot, that the mussel uses its byssal thread to attach itself to surfaces, and that Volutes are gastropods that can crawl rapidly. The text names the family each shell belongs to, and gives an approximate size. A book to inspire further research and wonder--where are the creatures who once lived here? (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-395-72030-3
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1997


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