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Summary: Riley is a little bit nervous about his trip to the South Pole. Not only is it long, but it's also very dangerous. The trip through the Drake Passage was rough, but oh-so-worth it. Uncle Max, Aunt Martha, Cousin Alice, and Riley get to work right away. They need to collect dung samples to study the penguin's diets. When a storm comes up quickly, they must leave their research behind. How will they get the data they need? This title in this eco-adventure series takes Riley to Antarctica.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, read aloud book, middle grade reader
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 9; read yourself: 8 to 10
Interest Level: 5 to 9
Reading Level: 1.8
Age of Child: Read with 7-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: We had anticipated the "ew" factor when Uncle Max had explained how scientists studied changes in the Antarctic food chain. She was fascianted by the photos of the ice and glaciers ... and of course the penguins were "cute."
Adult Reader Reaction: I have to agree with my daughter; the photos are incredible. The authors have once again done an excellent job conveying a lot of factual information. The story emphasized changes in the food chain in Antarctica. The illustration that tried to help with the explanation, however, was very confusing with lots of arrows crossing each other on a busy page. We liked that the glossary combined both specific scientific descriptions as well as definitions of adjectives, too.
Pros: Beautiful photos blended with character illustrations help engage kids in this story filled with factual information about Antarctica.
Cons: Sometimes the pages get very busy, particularly when illustrations overlay the photos.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow or buy. If you have a science-oriented reader, s/he will find this book fun to read. This is a definite must for the elementary school library.
Educational Themes: Riley learns a lesson in cooperation as part of his trip, and that piece of the story shouldn't be undervalued. There is plenty of factual information (both in the text and inset boxes) about Antarctica, penguins, applying scientific methods, global warming, and the importance of conservation.
Notes: 2008 Gold Recipient: Green Earth, Moms Choice Awards
Literary Categories: fiction - picture book, animal stories, nature, series book
Date(s) Reviewed: December 2008
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