Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Animal Atlas: Animal Planet

Animal Atlas: Animal Planet
Text by James Buckley, Jr.; Maps by Aaron Meshon
2016 (Liberty Street)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

The maps in this book are a little different. They show the borders of the major biomes of the world. 

This is a way cool idea. Instead of dividing a map politically (by country), the creator of Animal Atlas divide by biomes. These are the geographic areas that are divided not by borders but by the flora and fauna that live there. Each of the seven continents are represented. For example, North America is not divided by Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and the countries of Central America. Instead, we have the tundra in the far north where we find polar bears and walruses. It is bordered on the south by the taiga region. Here you find an abundance of trees, along with black bears, wolverines, and spotted salamanders. Most of the United States and Mexico is divided between the desert, grasslands, and temperate forest biomes. Tropical rainforest is the predominate biome for Central America and the Caribbean. Each biome in each continent is represented by summaries and beautiful photographs of some of the animals that live there. In the marine biome of Australia, you'll find saltwater crocodiles, giant clams, whale sharks, and reef fish. Also present are green sea turtles though none seem to come with a surfer accent. These summaries would be a great jumping off point for creating graphic organizers like tables and charts. Another nice aspect of Animal Atlas are the ROAR boxes. These boxes teach readers about ways humans are trying to improve the life of animals. One box details the positive news about how swallowtail butterflies are making a comeback in the British Isles.

Animal Atlas is a terrific way to introduce the concept of biomes to young readers. I would like to see a companion book that focused on the flora in each of these biomes. Chock full of photographs and fun animal facts and priced like a hardcover picture book, Animal Atlas clocks in at 94 pages which is a great deal. This would be an interesting way to teach knowledge of the continents and other map skills.

Here is a link to some terrific resources in a downloadable curriculum guide. Check it out!

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