Amazing Information Books

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Nina (who does like snakes) enjoying the book.

I Don’t Like Snakes
Nicola Davies and Luciano Lozano
Walker Books
On a visit to Kerala (India) a couple of years back I was beguiled by the resident naturalist into showing the local housekeeping staff that there was nothing to fear from the snakes that were found in the grounds and occasionally found their way into the guest cottages. There I was inwardly quaking and having what looked to me a huge snake dangled about my person.

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So, the girl narrator of this wonderful orphidiological extravaganza has my sympathies when she declares, “I really, really, REALLY don’t like snakes!” to her incredulous family members who immediately counter her statement with “WHY?
Every reason she proffers is met with an informative rejoinder that serves to weaken her case; and it isn’t long before her protestations about slithering, icky, slimy skin or flicky tongue have fueled her interest in their sidewinding, twining or flying methods of locomotion, their wonderful mosaic patterned, renewable skins

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and the scent-smelling organ used in locating their prey. Oh and those staring eyes are so informative about their hunting habits too.

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We really know she’s been won over however, when having turned to a large book, our narrator informs her brother about the reproductive habits of snakes

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and finally says – well what do you think?
My subsequent real-life experiences with snakes certainly haven’t won me round but I have to admit that the book has gone some way towards so doing. Davies’ chatty, gently humorous narrative style and Luciano Lozano’s superb illustrations of both human and reptilian characters work so well together. The combination of almost cartoon-like humans and zoologically accurate snake drawings together with the differing type-faces used for the text is enormously effective.A must buy for budding zoologists and for the primary school library.

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Surprising Sharks
Nicola Davies and James Croft
Walker Books pbk
Sharks come in all shapes and sizes, the smallest being not much larger than a bar of chocolate and comparatively few of them have attacked humans. And, did you know that ‘Sand tiger sharks give birth to just two live young— which is all that’s left after those two have eaten the other six babies in their mother’s belly.’
These are just a few of the interesting facts youngsters can discover between the covers of this highly readable, gently humorous re-issue.

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Dino-Dinners
Mick Manning and Brita Granström
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books pbk
This inviting book, published in association with the Natural History Museum, features ten dinosaurs, each having a double spread within which the creature – illustrated in watercolour- introduces itself with a rhyme telling of its dietary habits alongside which is an inset of additional information including name pronunciation, size and geological dating. One of the Brachiosaurus spreads (it has two because it’s so long) includes details about its poo too;

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I didn’t know that fossil poos are called coprolites before I read it here. The book also includes a time line and glossary. A fascinating book for young addicts and one that will likely kindle an interest in those new to the subject.
Equally fascinating and informative and from the same team is

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Woolly Mammoth
In this one, mammoth narrator, gentle giant and ‘veggie warrior with bull-neck power’ takes readers back to the ice-age when these huge shaggy beasts roamed free, sometimes hunted by hungry wolves, bears or hyenas and sometimes by humans.
Both titles would make excellent additions to a family or primary school collection.

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