More a survey of mollusks as living animals than a handbook on shells, this guide by two specialists discusses the classification of the phylum and the structure, function, habits and uses of various species. The authors, though, are less at home with young readers than they are with their subject: explanations are often diffuse (particularly as to the aptness of Latin names), and to compensate for the lack of sparkle in their prose they introduce extraneous ""human interest"" anecdotes and chats. Regarding the gull's habit of dropping clams to break their shells, they warn that the clam might fall on a person's head -- ""and the person can be hurt very badly or, at least, have a very sore head!"" The sufferer should remember, however, ""that the gulls who cause all this annoyance are just naturally hungry and want to eat!"" After dealing with a few superstitions and curiosities about mollusks (no, you don't really hear the sea in a shell; a tea cup or cupped hand on your ear has the same effect -- you'll have to ask a doctor why), the authors conclude with some advice for young shell collectors. But the tips, like so much of the text, are either superfluous (to identify specimens, look in books. ""Of course, you must be sure to look in the proper books. For example, it is useless to look for a land shell in a book dealing only with marine shells"") or unspecific (snails soaked in alcohol should be ""left to dry FOR A VERY LONG TIME!""). Although the book devotes more space to the phylum as a whole than do Cavanna, Dudley and other juveniles on shells, it all boils down to very little matter and a great deal of dispensable manner.