Thursday, November 21, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Weird Sea Creatures by Erich Hoyt, 63 pages.
Fearsome hatchet fish … fangtooth fish… blackdevil anglerfish … vampire squid … carnivorous comb jellies… yeti crabs … viperfish and many more!  Readers will meet fifty of the strangest, most extraordinary creatures that live beneath the surface of the world’s oceans in Erich Hoyt’s beautifully-photographed book.
Some of these animals are quite scary-looking; some are large and others are quite tiny - but to describe all of them as “strange” or “weird” isn’t an exaggeration. These creatures appear odd to us because we’ve never (or rarely) seen them. Many are newly discovered – only two manned voyages have ever been made to the Mariana Trench (located in the deepest part of the earth’s oceans, it is the habitat of many of these sea creatures) - and some haven’t even been given a scientific name yet.
Some of the creatures really do seem to exist on the fringes of imagination. Consider the loosejaw dragonfish, which sports a semi-detachable lower mandible….or the mantis shrimp, which ambushes prey by delivering a lethal blow equivalent in force to a 22-calibre bullet … or the acorn worm, which has no brain, eyes or known sense organs!
Hoyt’s photographs of these creatures are stunning and are certain to stir the imagination. Each close-up colour plate clearly reveals details as fangs, tentacles, eyes and even colour-emitting cells. An informative caption accompanies each photo.
A Canadian scientist specializing in marine animals and marine conservation, author Erich Hoyt has many other books to his credit.

** Recommended for ages 9 years and up.

City Critters: Wildlife in the Urban Jungle by Nicholas Read, 134 pages.
Far from the oceans’ depths, the wild animals featured in Nicholas Read’s City Critters live right in our own cities and towns, and even in our backyards.
Why do some animals choose to live in urban areas? Where exactly do they live, and how do they manage to survive?
While some creatures such as raccoons and squirrels are attracted to the abundant sources of food in cities, the sad truth is that many animals and birds don’t “choose” to live among people. They have little choice because wilderness habitats around the world are quickly disappearing with urban sprawl and deforestation. 
Some animals - chipmunks, squirrels, skunks and raccoons, among others – have proven to be remarkably adaptable to urban life, living in parks, golf courses and backyards. Rivers and harbors also shelter a surprising diversity of creatures, including otters, waterfowl, fish, turtles and even large sea creatures such as seals and dolphins.
Nicholas Read’s well-researched, informative book addresses the causes of and solutions to conflicts between people and city-dwelling wildlife. Complete with interesting anecdotes of human-animal encounters and captivating photography, City Critters reminds us that we share our world with many other creatures – and that urban areas can play an important role in preserving biodiversity.   

** Recommended for ages 10 years and up.

This review appeared in The Stratford Gazette on November 21, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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