I've always loved camping, hiking, plants and the outdoors, but was never much of a bird watcher. My husband, however, is a bird lover and can tell the difference between similar waterfowl or shore birds at a great distance. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds has been a fixture in our house for ages. After the addition of curious kids, we added the Field Guide to Seashore Creatures, North American Trees, and North American Insects & Spiders. There's something very satisfying about these little books - a modern, non-lethal form of hunting perhaps. I love that "Aha, I've found it!" moment when I discover the unknown bird in the yard or the little critter crawling on the windowsill. So, it was with pleasure that I received the set of DK Pocket Genius guides for my branch.
Now granted, kids won't be able to spot a shark or dinosaur in the neighborhood and rush home to identify it, but the books are designed in much the same manner as adult field guides and will teach the same classification skills. For example, Sharks begins with an overview of sharks, their common attributes, habitats and features. The guide is then divided into two sections: Sharks and Rays, skates, and chimaeras. Sections are then subdivided into types (e.g. Frilled and cow sharks) and then into the neat little photographic plates with which any fan of field guides is familiar.
Differing from adult guides, the informative text is presented in the same box as the photograph (no flipping to tissue paper thin pages in the rear). Similar to adult guides, icons appear in each box. These icons, however, are much more fun than a silhouette of a tree-clinging bird or coniferous tree! The shark icon depicts a swimmer with a proportionally sized shark swimming above. The Rocks and Minerals guide shows a hand next to the average size of a found specimen. Animals and Dinosaurs icons compare a human body to the featured creature.
Each book also contains fun facts, an index and a glossary. And while they don't have the flexible, textured covers of National Audubon Society guides, they are still a cozy and satisfying size, about 5.5" x 6.5" x .5". The publisher's suggested age for Pocket Genius books is 8 and up.
I may be nerdy, but I like them!
Future additions to the series will include: Ancient Egypt, Earth, Space and Bugs.
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