THE VIEW FROM THE OAK by Judith & Herbert Kohl
Kirkus Star


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For reflective readers with an elementary school exposure to cell biology, sound waves, electricity, etc., this imaginative introduction to ways of looking at the world will be a valued companion. Taking off from Jacob von Uexkull's umwelt concept--the unique organized experience of each living thing--the Kohls explore sensory perceptions of space and time in exotic and backyard species, consider responses which depend on mood, and provide excellent explanations of such elusive concepts as relativity. To point up a bee's acute sensitivity to scents, they write, ""It is as if you could control the smells emitted by your body and use them to indicate who your family is and what food bargains you found in the supermarket."" A discussion of balance mechanisms refers to the gyroscope, the semicircular canals of the human ear, and the adaptations of fish, insects, and clams. Or, a simple water game is suggested to simulate a dolphin's sound navigation technique. Throughout, the Kohls present the ideas of much-admired figures--von Frisch, Lorenz, DrÖscher, Tinbergen--in terms appropriate to junior high school readers, accessible to younger students (especially in small groups) with an adult available for consultation. And attractive sepia drawings, strategically placed in most cases, enlarge upon the subjects discussed. An especially competent text, offering provocative ideas in a format which appreciates how children come to comprehend them.

Pub Date: May 16th, 1977
Publisher: Scribners