Posts tagged ‘birds’

THERE’S WORK TO BE DONE

The Bee in the Blackberry Bush

Written by C.S. Areson

Illustrated by Don Lee

 

Charming beginning chapter book presenting Christian values of the responsibility to help others even if it means placing the needs of others before oneself. The protagonist is an adorable worker bee who has no name as do all the others in his hive because each has a job to do. This bee is quite dedicated and industrious. One day he learns of nectar in a blackberry patch and almost loses his life to an observant chicken. The bee encounters a sad mother bird who has lost her mate and has no one to watch over her nest while she searches for food. The bee takes on the job of protector, while completing his own worker bee assignments. One day he faces danger while protecting one of the hatchlings. He must make a difficult choice. How far must one go in carrying out his sense of duty?

Soft pastel illustrations enhance the mood and message of the tale. While the story is slow moving in parts, the characters are endearing and realistic; the message sometimes uplifting but also sad. Recommended especially for readers in the seven to ten year- old age range.

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BIRDS OF A FEATHER

BIRD LIFE FUNNY &WEIRD FEATHERED ANIMALS Funny & Weird Animals Series

Written by P.T. Hersom

Birds,pic

Nonfiction book of approximately sixty pages features more than twenty of our feathered friends. The author first presents an overview of the characteristics of birds and then considers the reasons why some birds are considered strange. For each of the books considered readers are informed about the size, habitat, diet and a few paragraphs that make that bird particularly interesting. While I was familiar with a few of them like the pelican, grouse and hawk, there were many I had never heard of like the Hoatin, Cassowary, and Red-footed Booby.

I came away with some fascinating details. Did you know that Helmeted Hornbills are hunted for their casque (helmets) that are carved like ivory and their feathers are used in ceremonial dances? The Frigatebird acts like a pirate because it attacks other birds which have their lunch in their mouths, stealing it for a free meal. Even though they soar over the sea for their prey, Frigatebirds hate the water because their feathers become easily waterlogged.

Readers can test their memories by answering the What Did You Learn Today? Questions following the profiles of each bird. The answers are included, but don’t cheat! This is a fun feature for siblings or groups of children to use as a game or for a parent/teachers to use as reinforcement for a classroom lesson. Children eight and older who love birds or who are looking for an animal science project will find this book a good starting point. Available in kindle and paperback format.

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AVIAN VACATION

Robby’s Quest :Ocean Bound

Written by D.C. Rush

Illustrated by Daniela Frongia

Robby'squestocean,pic

Robby’s Quest:Ocean Bound is the second book in the four book series featuring Robby as the protagonist and leader of a diverse flock of bird adventurers. I enjoyed this second chapter book even more than the first. It is more richly illustrated and the story flows seamlessly.

The fourteen feathered friends have arrived in Arizona to which they fled after a hurricane destroyed their winter home in Florida. Lately, the weather has been getting quite warm so the birds have a conference and eventually vote to migrate further west to San Diego where they can take advantage of the cool ocean breezes and plentiful food supply. Ruby has been there with her last flock; she offers to serve as a guide.

Less than a week later, the flock arrives in San Diego, where each group goes off to explore the sights. Two of the younger birds, a robin named Joy and her friend Josie, the sparrow, fly out to investigate a cruise ship, only to fall asleep and find themselves stranded at sea. Robby leads a group of six rescue birds in a search party. The reader follows the adventures of both groups. Will Joy and Josie ever rejoin their group of faithful friends?

This early chapter book story contains endearing story characters and a well integrated plot with just the right amount of challenge for an early elementary school reader. Color illustrations are simple but add interest to the story. Qualities like friendship, team work, bravery, cooperation and loyalty are seen as valuable traits. The ending to this adventure involves a new discussion among the birds as to future plans. Will the friends remain together or find new adventures on their own? Stay tuned.

WEIRD AND WONDERFUL

Weird Animals: It Came From Planet Earth! Strange, Weird and Unusual Animals

By: Maya Lee Shye

 Weird Animals

This book is a fascinating study of the habitat and behavior of strange animals living on land, in the sea and up in the air on planet earth. Also unusual is its appeal to all ages from younger children through adults. The author describes more than thirty animals and provides a photograph of each. Some of these have been on earth for millions of years. That’s right, the Coelacanth is the oldest jawed fish still alive on our planet. This fish with eight hollow spine fins covered by tough scales acting like a coat of armor can grow up the six feet long and existed on earth 410 million years ago! The Tuatara is the last reptile that lived on earth as a contemporary of the dinosaurs 225 million years ago. They still exist on remote islands in the Pacific Ocean and some wildlife sanctuaries. The Tarsiers are primates with huge eyes that leap from tree to tree. They are carnivores who are probably the ancestors of two legged primates. The slow loris is a primitive monkey with a very large round head and eyes. Their arms and legs are of equal size. This southeastern Asia native also bites with a poisonous venom lethal to many humans.

Many animals have evolved with adaptations needed for their environment. There is an African Penguin native to the warm coast of Africa. These animals burrow in the ground to keep cool. Glands above the eyes high on their heads help them cool their bodies. The North Island Brown Kiwi is a bird that does not fly because its wings are tiny. The animal is the size of a chicken. Like a dog the kiwi bird uses its nose to find food. These animals live in underground burrows. The male sits on eggs in the nest, while the female goes out to hunt for food. Their eggs are the largest known bird eggs. New Zealand has adopted this bird as their national symbol. Giant Tortoises living in the Galapagos Islands can weigh up to 600 pounds so their bodies have been adapted to move slowly and burn few calories. In fact, they can go as long as one year without eating or drinking anything!

There are many animals with adaptations that make them look strange. The Glass Frog  lives in Venezuela and central America. Its body is translucent so that it is totally invisible to predators. The Shoebill is a bird that lives in the swamps of east Africa. It is related to the stork, but its bill looks like a giant shoe. This cartoon like character spends most of its time standing silently along the water, but can fly at low altitude. When it does fly, it usually flies in a group that chatters. Archaeologists have found drawings of this bird in ancient Egyptian art. The Okapi is a forest giraffe that has black and white legs like a zebra. Its tongue is so long that it can wash its ears! One animal may someday help us find a cure for cancer. The Naked Mole Rat lives in tunnels on the desert coast of East Africa. This animal uses little oxygen and has no hair. It does not feel pain and appears to be resistant to cancer. Its life span is longer than any other mammal of comparable size. Another oddity is that these animals are eusocial like bees. One female is designated queen; all the other rats will work to sustain the colony.

More than thirty animals are discussed in this book. The work may serve as a springboard for analysis, discussion, comparison and evaluation of topics in  life science, geography, evolution and environment. I recommend it as a valuable learning reference tool for adults and children of all ages.

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