New from Bearport Publishing for Spring 2012 is the Animal Diaries: Life Cycles series. There are five incredible titles—perfect for young readers—A Butterflies Life, A Frog’s Life, A Kangaroo’s Life, A Snake’s Life, and A Spider’s Life. This series is not only a celebration of the wonders of creation and the animal kingdom, but of childhood curiosity. Each one is written through the perspective of a child, journaling about his/hers observations. There are large, close-up photographs to give child readers’ an in-depth examination. Several of the pages have interactive text boxes that challenge the reader to describe what they see or to make predictions. I reviewed two books in the series: A Spider’s Life and A Snake’s Life. Both are written by Ellen Lawrence.
This journal begins in May when Ella, the young observer, finds two spiders involved in a mating ritual. She draws her own picture of the event at the corner of the page. A stunning full-page picture of the spider faces the entry. Text bubbles offer additional facts and information about the spider. Then, on June 1 she describes how the spider creates an egg sac and lays her eggs. Each new entry chronicles the changes that occur as the young arachnids hatch, leave the sac, and venture out on their own. She observes as one of them hunts, jumps, and eats. The cycle draws to a close in December as the spider hibernates for winter.
While Grace is at her Uncle Joe’s ranch, she stumbles upon two California mountain king snakes in mid April. Two months later, she finds 10 eggs hidden inside an old tree stump. Readers get to view pictures of the stump, the life size eggs, and the snake laying the eggs. When the babies hatch, Grace describes her experience observing and touching them. Snap shots and information show one of the snakes shedding his skin, sunbathing on a rock, and eating a rat! In December, the snakes looks for a place to sleep for the winter.
Animal Diaries: Life Cycles series depicts observing and journaling about animal life as exciting and practical. It is sure to inspire young budding scientists to try their hand at it. Take your children out on nature walks this spring—in your yard, at a park, or in the woods. Encourage them the get out their magnifying glasses, cameras, and notebooks. They can create their own Animal Diary.
Also, children can pick an animal or insect, research it, and create a journal with pictures from the Internet and other sources that parallels what they learned in their investigation.
I highly recommend Animal Diaries: Life Cycles for ages 4-9. Teachers (home and classroom) and parents are sure to spark excitement and a love for nature and animals with this series.