Toad or Frog, Swamp or Bog?: A Big Book of Nature's Confusables

Lynda Graham-Barber, Author, Alec Gillman, Illustrator Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing $16 (48p) ISBN 978-0-02-736931-1
A cluttered structure obscures the merits of this helpfully illustrated and informative book. Spreads challenging the reader to identify various subjects (``Are those swarming insects wasps or bees? / What's the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees?'') alternate with pages of illustrated, columnar comparisons and contrasts (bees eat nectar, wasps eat meat; bees are short and stubby, wasps' bodies are tapered). The presentation of two groups of two can be choppy, and the full-spread art and rhyming verse of the interspersed pages seem aimed at a much younger audience than that addressed on the text-heavy explanatory spreads. On the other hand, Gillman's art--rendered in watercolors, colored pencils and ink--achieves a happy balance of the instructive and the imaginative, and Graham-Barber's teaching devices are unusual and effective. Ages 5-10. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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