FICTION

Dogs

9781624031656. ea vol: 48p. (The Smartest Animals Series). bibliog. further reading. glossary. illus. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. ABDO. 2014. lib. ed. $32.79.
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Gr 4–6 - Each title opens with a real life example of a clever animal in action, such as a trio of gorillas breaking a hunter's snare or an octopus dismantling its aquarium. Further exploration of animal intelligence follows, along with information about habitat, life cycle, and other general topics. Simple sentence structure makes the text accessible, although the prose is not always smooth. Text boxes supplement the main text well, with facts about everything from conservation efforts to research findings. Clear photographs in uncluttered layouts are attractive enough, but readers may wish for more images that directly depict the animals' smart behaviors. Each book includes a variety of challenges to readers, including questions on recent scientific research, analysis of text, guided web research, and follow-up writing assignments. These features may resonate only with the most highly motivated students but have strong potential use for teachers, with solid tie-ins to Common Core content.While most of the series above contain enough information, enticing visuals, and topical appeal to earn their space on the animal shelves, some titles in particular merit special attention. "City Safari" demonstrates how simple but pointed prose, supported by meaningfully relevant photographs, can be engaging and informative to even the youngest readers. "Adapted to Survive" stands out for the quality and selection of photography, along with well-executed presentations on individual animals that share similar survival tools. ABDO's "The Smartest Animals" goes even further with text analysis, offering multiple paths to analyze the information presented, with strong Common Core potential. Most of the animals introduced in these series are covered in other books as well, but libraries looking to fill subject holes should note that these series offer useful and solid material on unique and intriguing creatures not often profiled in other books, such as skuas (from "Disgusting Animal Dinners"), Przewalski's Horses (from "Majestic Horses"), and teacup pigs, pygmy mice, mandrills, and marmosets (from "Big Animals, Small Animals").

These solid overviews include information on each mammal's sensory abilities, behavior, and threats to survival, with particular attention given to their capacity for intelligence. Intermittent questions and writing prompts, along with links to additional web content, help foster research skills, though these may distract general readers. Short chapters and clear organization make quick referencing convenient. Reading list. Glos., ind. Review covers these Smartest Animals titles: Dolphins, Elephants, and Chimpanzees.

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