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THEY WALK THE EARTH by Seymour Simon


The Extraordinary Travels of Animals on Land

by Seymour Simon & illustrated by Elsa Warnick

Pub Date: March 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-15-292889-8
Publisher: Harcourt

The team that collaborated on two previous titles in this series, They Swim the Seas (1998) and Ride the Wind (1997), turns its attention to the overland migration of various groups of animals, including the Lapps of northern Norway. An afterword discussing migration in general briefly mentions several other animals. This section would have profited by continuing as it began with small portraits of the animals under consideration; readers are familiar with wolves and bears, which are illustrated, but may not be able to see in their mind's eyes the European bison, Przewalski's horse, and the saiga, which are not. The journeys of animals treated more fully seem to have been chosen on a desultory but primarily mammalian basis. The migrations of some—caribou and elephant—are clearly shown to be purposeful, whereas the routes of polar bears, traveling on `shifting ice floes and pack ice,` are reported to have definite aims, though no substantiating evidence is offered. Overburdening the capacity of home range pushes Norwegian lemmings into a search for new territory, the largest migration occurring once every 30 years or so. Faced with a body of water, they jump in and try to reach new land, thereby giving rise to the notion that they are suicidal. Described as `small rodents about the size of a fist` (a heavyweight boxer's fist? a six-year-olds?) a couple of lemmings are shown fighting to the death under population pressure in a full-page, otherwise work-a-day illustration. This purportedly informational book may arouse more questions from attentive young readers than it answers. (Nonfiction. 69)