Porcupines From Two “Points” of View

porcupine
(Borrowed this photo from Free Stock Photos for websites - FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

“The North American porcupine waddles through the forests of North America” begins Porcupines by Sandra Markle. As part of the Animal Prey series, this book explains what prey and predators are and how porcupines are prey. Porcupines can defend themselves with their quills, special hairs that are stiff and needlelike.

In contrast, Porcupines by Jen Green starts out with a Fact File summary of information and then asks, “What animal is pricklier than a pincushion?” This version is part of the Nature’s Children, Second Series, a revamped version of the popular earlier Nature’s Children series.

Both books have amazing photographs of porcupines, and in fact it is obvious that some of the photographs came from the same sources. With a larger size, the photographs in Markle’s book are stunning and definitely attract your eye. Green’s smaller format book, however, fits comfortably in smaller hands. While Green’s book starts out with a Fact File summary, Markle’s has a “Looking Back” section at the end, which is an interesting way to review the material.

As far as information, both books cover how porcupines are nocturnal, that they eat plants and that they crave salt. Both mention that porcupines have a waddling gait and that they are surprisingly good swimmers. Markle’s book states that porcupines have a fatty substance on the quills that acts as an antibiotic and protects the porcupines from infection should they stab themselves accidentally. I never thought that a porcupine might be a danger to itself!

Green’s book reveals on page 16 that porcupines smell like “sawdust or old wood.” I have to admit I picked these two books up because I was interested in how porcupines smell. I had seen a television show that listed porcupines in the top 10 smelliest animals. The porcupine at our zoo was named “Stinkerbell.” I had read that the fatty substances on the quills create odors that serve to warn animals away. Somehow, “old wood” doesn’t sound like a warning smell. I guess I have to keep researching that topic.

Overall, Markle’s book might be easier to find for the average parent because the Nature’s Children Series seems to be sold as part of a set for schools or libraries. Both would be helpful and informative to a child who wants to learn more about porcupines.

Porcupines (Nature’s Children, Second Series) by Jen Green
Grolier (Scholastic) Series
LP978-0-7172-8082-7
7 1/4″ x 8 5/8″
2008
More information available at Scholastic

Porcupines by Sandra Markle

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 39 pages
Publisher: First Avenue Editions (February 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0822564424
ISBN-13: 978-0822564423

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Jean Little Library.

All About Alligators

Who Lives in an Alligator Hole? by Anne Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell (Illustrator) is an excellent addition to the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science Series. As the authors suggest on the first page, most of us probably think of alligators as scary animals with sharp teeth. Alligators have a vital role in their environment, however, one that scientists and conservationists didn’t realize until it was almost too late.

In this book the Rockwells explain how alligators are keystone species, meaning they make changes to their environment that allow many other plants and animals to survive and flourish. During times of drought, the alligators dig out holes that become small ponds. The ponds become home to a vast array of other creatures. When the alligators almost went extinct in the 1960’s, the fish, plants and birds that depended on these ponds almost disappeared too.

As well as explaining how alligators are so very important in their habitats, the authors also note that alligators were once thought to only occur in the southeastern United States, but then another kind of alligator was found in China. Wild!

The illustrator is the author’s daughter, and she has done a marvelous job. Obviously their family has an appreciation for alligators, one they have passed on to our family. We can’t wait to try the activity at the end to make our own gator hole. We also want to go to Florida and see alligators, something I never would have thought before reading this book.

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at The Miss Rumphius Effect

Who Lives in an Alligator Hole? (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Anne Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 40 pages
Publisher: Collins (November 7, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006445200X
ISBN-13: 978-0064452007

Lizards (Nature Watch) Review

Lizards (Nature Watch) by Mark O’Shea

Mark O’Shea is an expert from the UK who has written numerous books on reptiles for children. This particular book for middle school ages caught my eye because of the incredible cover photograph of a brilliant green iguana. The book is indeed filled with eye-popping photography of lizards from throughout the world.

Once your eyes are done feasting on the gorgeous visuals, however, you find that the text is clearly written and highly informative, too. Did you know that most lizards in warm climates lay eggs, but those in colder climes give birth? I was surprised to learn that the world’s smallest lizard was discovered in 2001, and is also the world’s smallest land-living vertebrate. It is called the Jaragua gecko from the Dominican Republic and it is just ½ inch long!

The sections at the end on how to watch lizards and about lizard science/conservation are excellent. The author suggests to kids that they can become herpetologists (scientists who study reptiles), too. After reading this highly interesting book, I’m sure he is going to have quite a few children taking him up on that.

Paperback: 61 pages
Publisher: Lorenz Books (2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0754815013
ISBN-13: 978-0754815013

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Book Scoops.

Beatrix Potter Biography

Today we are featuring the picture book Beatrix Potter by Alexandra Wallner.

Children’s book biographies can be difficult to write well. It is hard to pull out the details of a person’s life to tell their story without including too much, making the story long and tedious, or too little. Real life can also be full of “sticky” experiences or calamities that might be inappropriate for young children. Do you leave the details in or take them out? It is a delicate process.

Alexandra Wallner’s biography of well-known children’s author Beatrix Potter is an excellent example of how to do things right. She calmly states the facts of Beatrix’s life, including the low points and struggles. Because the details are matter-of-fact and straightforward, they don’t have an excessive emotional impact. The truth that Potter’s first fiancée died before they were married had a hand in shaping Beatrix’s life and needed to be included. Wallner did not shy away from reality. In fact, this book is a shining example of the way to distill a person’s life into an exquisitely-crafted story.

Wallner is also the illustrator of the book and she has painted some lovely pictures of Potter’s life, obviously carefully researched. The illustrations introduce children to the historical look and feel of Great Britain during the era of Potter’s life.

In addition to history, Beatrix Potter could be used to accompany an author study or could be used as an jumping off point for an art project. The fact that Beatrix Potter had numerous serious disappointments in her life and still went on to be successful is an inspiring story.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Publisher: Holiday House (September 1998)
ISBN-10: 0823414078
ISBN-13: 978-0823414079

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Chicken Spaghetti.