Rocks and Sharks

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A Rock is Lively
Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
Chronicle Books
I was hooked by this book right from its provocative title and dazzling blue front endpapers. Essentially it’s a basic introduction to petrology but the author’s enthusiasm for the topic shines through in her poetic text that begins thus:
A rock is lively … bubbling like a pot of soup deep beneath the earth’s crust … liquid … molten … boiling.
A rock is also, so we hear , ‘mixed up …

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galactic, old, huge … or tiny, helpful, surprising, inventive, creative, recycled and finally once more … lively.
Each of these statements is explored in its own double spread and illuminated with Sylvia Long’s stunning watercolour visuals, making the whole thing a combination of science, poetry and art.
Thus we learn about the range of temperatures at which various rock types melt, the mineral composition of rocks and that some rocks were formed not on earth but far out in space. We are told about some of the very oldest of all rocks from between 2.5 and 4.5 billion years ago – awesome! And I was surprised to learn that sea lions, seals and crocodiles ingest rocks to act as ballast that helps them stay steady or dive deeper in the water.

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I did know though that various other animals use them as tools as did early humans and indeed humans today use rocks in the manufacturing processes of bricks, glass, cement, paper, pencils, toothpaste even.
Some rocks – the surprising ones – have wonders hidden within. These geodes when opened reveal wonderful jewel-like crystals: agate, tourmaline, amethyst, azurite.

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Then there are amazing sculptures and monuments all over the world, some dating back thousands of years, others a few decades …
If like me, you believe that science should engender in children feelings of awe and wonder, then this is a book that will surely help to do just that. And assuredly it will make you look at and think about mountains and grains of sand in a different way.

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Would You Rather Have a Shark for a Sister or a Ray for a Brother?
Camilla de la Bédoyère and Mel Howells
QED Publishing
This is one a series of books that presents information on a specific topic, sharks in this instance, in an offbeat manner. The reader is invited to make choices in response to such questions as ‘Would you rather visit … a Greenland shark, a frilled shark, or a whitetip reef shark?’ This is followed by some fascinating factual snippets and a visual relating to each species mentioned.
The whole thing has a light-hearted feel to it and is likely to appeal to those who prefer a touch of humour alongside the basic facts, for instance with parents in mind …
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And siblings?

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Or in response to the consideration of teeth …

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A book such as this could well result in youngsters, with appetites whetted, going on to look beyond the information given. And of course, there are possibilities for all manner of flights of fancy too, as well as some activity suggestions.

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