SECRETS OF SOUND

STUDYING THE CALLS AND SONGS OF WHALES, ELEPHANTS, AND BIRDS

The Scientists in the Field series continues to fulfill its promise, as Sayre (Noodle Man, p. 265, etc.) takes science out of the lab by profiling several researchers on the cutting edge of “acoustic biology.” Having arrived at their outdoorsy areas of inquiry along various routes—Katy Payne, for instance, moved from studying whale song to the surprisingly complex subsonic communications of elephants, and Bill Evans admits that his ingenious efforts to track birds that migrate at night through their calls “was a hobby that got out of control”—these men and women are not only exploring uncharted scientific frontiers, but obviously having a wonderful time doing it. Children will respond to their enthusiasm, as well as the environmental concerns that lie behind their research projects—not to mention the eye-opening insight that important discoveries may require traveling to exotic wild places, but might also be waiting no further away than one’s back yard. Big, color photos of the scientists, their tools and the creatures they study reflect this multifaceted appeal; lists of recommended reading (and listening, of course) and Web sites will give interested readers a deeper understanding of what has been, and has yet to be, learned about animal communication. (Nonfiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-01514-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

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WEATHER

Remarking that ``nothing about the weather is very simple,'' Simon goes on to describe how the sun, atmosphere, earth's rotation, ground cover, altitude, pollution, and other factors influence it; briefly, he also tells how weather balloons gather information. Even for this outstanding author, it's a tough, complex topic, and he's not entirely successful in simplifying it; moreover, the import of the striking uncaptioned color photos here isn't always clear. One passage—``Cumulus clouds sometimes build up into towering masses called cumulus congestus, or swelling cumulus, which may turn into cumulonimbus clouds''—is superimposed on a blue-gray, cloud-covered landscape. But which kind of clouds are these? Another photo, in blue-black and white, shows what might be precipitation in the upper atmosphere, or rain falling on a darkened landscape, or...? Generally competent and certainly attractive, but not Simon's best. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-10546-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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