High-quality photography compensates, at least in part, for inadequate commentary in this diverse gallery of exotic creatures and behaviors.
In the sharp, bright pictures, an alien-looking anglerfish dangles its glowing lure, a hagfish coils within its cloak of icky slime, and a mimic octopus miraculously morphs into an apparent flounder. These and 13 other land and sea animals pose in riveting close-ups. Alas, the text is not quite so clear. Along with leaving budding naturalists to sound out words like “anemone” and “arowana” on their own, Feldman adds rhetorical interjections (“What a strange way for a bird to get a meal!”) rather than systematic information about each animal’s range or physical characteristics. She also both fails to explain what an arowana actually is (the close-up in this case being a little too extreme) and, with the line “a lizard can break its tail off and run away,” misleadingly implies that any lizard can do this. Mary Kay Carson’s Deadly and Dangerous (978-1-4549-0629-2), publishing simultaneously in the same series, offers even more rousing visuals (notably, in this case, gruesome scenes of predators chowing down) and a somewhat more informative narrative text. Instead of much-needed leads to further information, both volumes close with an unrelated profile of a staff scientist at the American Museum of Natural History and feature a link to the publisher’s site.
Plenty of eye candy but low on nutritional facts. (Informational early reader. 6-8)