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Every family, whether into science of not, should obtain a copy of this book for the sake of their children (upper elementary through high school). This deluxe book, The World of Animals, is a wonderful reference book which describes anatomy and ecological significance of the main groups of animals.

What this book particularly achieves, is to demonstrate the astonishing diversity of animal life in the world. I personally was amazed at the many very different kinds of fish. It sometimes appears to us as if all fish are basically the same, but this is not so. Of course there is huge diversity among animals without backbones, but we expected that. However even among these creatures, there are more amazing designs than we might have expected.

This book describes the anatomy and basic life cycle of each animal group, and it includes boxes which summarize taxonomic features and groupings, and other boxes which highlight economic significance, world record holders for some feature such as size, or warnings of danger. The objective is to provide useful and interesting information without evolutionary speculations.

This book shines as a reference or as an interesting introduction to animal diversity. It does not however discuss special design features such as the amazing eyes of box jellyfish or of octopus or squid. It does mention tiny eyes in the mantle of scallop however. That certainly caught my interest, but the text does not elaborate on the feature. Obviously this is a topic for further research! That after all is the function of any reference or introductory book, to kindle interest and curiosity which leads to further research.

Highly recommended as a reference for families and students of all pages. The pictures are fun, the descriptions are not difficult, but the range of creatures described is sophisticated. Thus this book is useful at several levels of difficulty.

Martin Walters and Jinny Johnson. 1999. The World of Animals. Paragon Publishing (My Father’s World) and Master Books. $20.00 (full colour, hardcover with index and glossary)



February 2013

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