This book takes two dips into the study of mammalia: the first offers tastes by the spoonful--a sip of evolution, a nip of behavior, a swig of climatology and environment and a (slightly harder to swallow) swill of human guilt over species extinction. The second dip is a thorough soaking in the diversities of 19 of the larger mammals. Less motivated readers may pause only for the 63 mostly magnificent photographs and drawings (the armadillo's car-sized relative, for example); others will discover diverse myths and facts in the many sidebars: a seal who can blow red balloons out of one nostril, gorillas who shun deodorant, camels whose humps store fat, not water. However, only serious learners will take on the dry, statistics-strewn text that emphasizes names and places. Although the book spotlights the seriously increasing death rate of mammals, it fails to develop cogent reasons for stanching the rising flow of extinction during the next human generation--``We must learn to value the rest of the animal kingdom and realize that they have as much right to exist as we do.'' As a reference tool, however, Knight's work proves both informative and approachable. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1992 Release date: 09/01/1992 Genre: Children's
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