Hottest Coldest Highest Deepest by Steve Jenkins
Jenkins, Steve. 1998. Hottest Coldest Highest Deepest. Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN: 0-395-8999-0
Hottest Coldest Highest Deepest is a wonderful true book that informs
readers of the most extreme locations on the globe. From the deepest part of
the ocean to the place that has the most amount of snow each year, also information is provided on the page about other extreme
places that were maybe the runners up of certain categories. Readers are given
diagrams to see visually how the measurement compares to the height of an average man or even the empire state building. This comparison allows children to relate the information they are being given to
something that they already know so they have a frame of reference.
The assumption of accuracy is reinforced not only by the reputation of the
author for writing quality nonfiction and the presence of favorable reviews but also by the inclusion of a bibliography of
sources used in the research for this book. The bibliography is located on the
title page and includes citations from many reputable sources. There is virtually
no opinion present in this book, since this is essentially a fact book, verification is fairly simple. Accuracy is an important matter that has been addressed by the author who leaves very little room for doubt
regarding what he has written.
The organization of this book is appropriate for nonfiction. A child can pick the book up and open it to any page and it will make sense. It lends itself well to reading from cover to cover but also, just as well to reading only bits and pieces
in any order that the reader chooses. Although there is not a table of contents
or index, the topics are grouped together logically as the title suggests; the hottest spot is followed by the coldest and
the wettest is followed by the driest.
The design of this particular book is very impressive; it draws the reader
to it by its attractive layout. The text takes up minimal space on the page which
is filled by the wonderful paper collage illustrations that are done by the author as well as the poignant diagrams that illustrate
the enormity of what is being described. The only complaint I would make on the
design of this book would be the size of the print for the supporting information. Even
very young eyes may find themselves straining to read these small sections of print.
I would definitely recommend Hottest Coldest Highest Deepest to any
young inquisitive mind. Steve Jenkins could certainly be added to the list of
phenomenal authors of nonfiction for children in areas of science, a list that is no doubt topped by Seymour Simon (a cited
reference for this book I might add). There are also more classroom uses for
this book than the obvious. Anne Chapman Callaghan from the Racine Public Library
offered this insight in her review of this book in School Library Journal, “This
eye-catching introduction to geography will find a lot of use in libraries and classrooms.” Although, this book provides a map and marks the location being discussed on every page, I did not immediately
make the leap to using this as a geography tool. However, any teacher that does
will surely find his/her students much more interested in the topic!
of the Ancient World by Lynn Curlee
Curlee, Lynn. 2002. Seven Wonders of
the Ancient World. New York:
Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 0-689-83182-X.
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
begins with a history of the title of “wonder of the world”. A brief
history of the various lists that contained different structures is given before settling on one list to explore in greater
depth. The book proceeds to give historical documentation about each structure
and then offers several hypotheses regarding information that is not known for certain.
Although a bibliography is not provided,
through the text it does appear that Mr. Curlee did his homework on the subject. The
note on the dust cover that identifies Curlee as a art historian also lends his book credibility since many of the objects
are not only architectural wonders but artistic marvels as well. Theory and fact
is clearly differentiated in this book where it would be very easy to blur the lines of reality. Assumptions and possibilities are plainly stated so as to avoid misinforming readers. The illustrations provide pictorial assumptions about what these structures may have looked like and when
the exact representation is unknown it is stated so that the reader does not assume that the picture is necessarily a true
depiction. Also, when there are differing theories on what a structure may have
looked like, the various opinions are included so the reader has more complete information.
The organization of the book is logical
for nonfiction. While a reader could read any section independently, the sequence
follows the order of the list that was selected by the author; that of Dutch artist, Maerten van Heemskerck engraved in the
midsixteenth century. Unfortunately, no reference aids are provided such as a
table of contents or index, the short length of the book make finding particular structures very easy anyway.
The design of this book does have a few
flaws. There is so much narration that it will probably be difficult for many
students to follow very easily. Also, the lack of captions on the illustrations
may confuse readers somewhat as well. This point is illustrated by Ilene Cooper
in her review of this book for Booklist when she says; “Children probably won't recognize Napoleon at the Great Pyramid,
and the figures of nude men running a race will come as a surprise, especially because the Olympics are explained on the previous
page and, in any case, never mention nudity.”
Overall this book is an interesting read
and would be an excellent choice for anyone who has a strong foundation in history and an interest in the topic. The various perspectives that are offered do add to the instructional value as well. This may be a book that is a wonderful tool for teachers but the design flaws may inhibit its target audience
from individual readings.
Encantado: Pink Dolphin
of the Amazon by Sy Montgomery, with photographs by Dianne Taylor-Snow
Montgomery, Sy. 2002. Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the
Amazon. Photographs by Dianne Taylor-Snow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN: 0-618-13103-5
Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon is an exceptional
peak into the world of many amazing creatures including the rare pink dolphin. Written
in a unique style that draws the reader into the action, you are transported into an expedition in search of the Encantado. Along the way you are introduced to many living things that seem to be straight out
of someone’s very vivid imagination.
This book appears to have a high degree of accuracy. A list of suggested reading for both children and older readers is provided, which
although it does not state that it was used as a bibliography, the author must have done her share of research in those and
other books. The journalistic style in which the book is written also adds to
its credibility. First hand knowledge and experience certainly create an image
The organization of this book is good overall. The sections are divided neatly and the flow and progression seem very natural. However, the addition of a table of contents would have been a nice touch.
Also, while the book progresses naturally when read from cover to cover, I am not sure that this book would lend itself
very well to being read in another order or in single segments. An index is included
which is nice for readers who know exactly what they are looking for.
The design of the book is nice and does engage the reader. The use of photographs as the form of illustration adds to the journalistic style
that is portrayed through the writing. Captions on all of the photographs really
draw readers into the book. An author can describe a spider the size of a tangerine,
but it is a whole different experience to see it. The understanding of that fact
is apparent through the use of photographs, captions and the placement of these throughout the text.
This book is a wonderful choice
for readers of all ages, I found myself making all sorts of interesting faces at many of the descriptions and pictures as
well as going back and forth from really wanting to go explore the Amazon myself to feeling things crawling all over me and
being very glad to be safe at home. Encantado provides such a wonderful
introduction to the Amazon wildlife and fascinating information on the little known pink dolphin that the reader truly feels
like they have had an adventure themselves. Susan Oliver from the Tampa-Hillsborough
Public Library System really captured the essence of this book in her review for School Library Journal when she wrote; “The
author's sense of wonder at this spectacular environment and this unusual animal is infectious and makes for a nonfiction
title that inspires as it informs.” I couldn’t have said it better