Reviews for Backyard Detective : Critters Up Close


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 October 2002
Gr. 1-3. A glossy photograph of a habitat, such as a vegetable garden or a weedy patch, shows what the publisher terms life-size inhabitants of each of seven double-page spreads. Following these simulated scenes, which have been painstakingly created from smaller photos, are two pages with more information about each animal. More than 125 insects and other animals appear, many of which can be found throughout the U.S. A final section suggests nature projects, such as growing a butterfly garden. The arrangement of the pictorial index is confusing, and photos (only some of which are life-size) aren't to scale, so a millipede appears to be about the same length as a mole. The book isn't as informative as Bishop's The Secrets of Animal Flight (1997), and the photos aren't as beautiful as those that he did for Joy Cowley's Red-Eyed Tree Frog (1999). That said, this is, nevertheless, an attractive book that will serve as a good introduction for children new to the study of nature. Serious nature fans will want to stick to field guides. ((Reviewed October 15, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Spring
While potentially informative and entertaining, this book lacks the organization to make it useful. Large, digitally manipulated photos show many creatures and plants crowded into a small featured area--e.g., underground, in the tool shed, or in a weed patch--suggesting that one can find all of them within inches of each other. Full pages of breathless informational text describe what is seen in the photos. A picture index is included. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2002 August #1
The talented photo-illustrator (Digging for Bird Dinosaurs, 2000, etc.) examines 125 backyard creatures, mostly insects, photographed life-sized and described in a detailed text. Creatures are presented in seven double-page layouts, each a composite of over 60 separate photographs. Following each habitat page are two pages of information and identification. He provides both the specific (how ladybugs take off for flight) and the more global (how critters fit together in the habitat and he invites the reader to become a backyard detective with hints and projects for exploration). Many creatures will be familiar to both urban and suburban dwellers; a photo index aids in identifying them. According to an endnote, the photographer used a computer and "cut-and-paste" technique to edit the photos of individual creatures and place them in the habitat collages in naturalistic poses. For example, a backyard meadow shows dragonflies, butterflies, ladybugs, bees, spittlebugs, caterpillars, and more crawling, climbing, and flying in and around milkweed, Queen Anne's Lace, dandelions, and clover. Occasionally a magnifying glass is used to enlarge a part of the collage. Another composite shows flying insects as a backyard viewer would see them looking up-insects from the bottom look very different. With four kinds of spiders, five kinds of ants, and seven different butterflies, there is plenty here to keep young and adult viewers engaged and challenged. (Nonfiction. 5-11) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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School Library Journal Reviews 2002 October
Gr 3-6-For the child who is drawn to creepy-crawly critters, Bishop's oversized volume offers hours of visual pleasure. Each of the seven double-page photo collages was computer generated from more than 60 of the photographer's individual images taken with the use of a laser trigger to trip a fast shutter and high-speed strobes to freeze the insects in motion. Creatures in the photo collages are life-size. In some pictures, a magnifying glass shows several insects two times larger than life-size; a hand lens shows them four times larger. Text-filled pages in this section, written in one long paragraph, contain tidbits of information about each creature in the preceding photo; animal/insect names are highlighted in colored type, with a small photo of each one somewhere on the page. Topics include critters that inhabit the ground; those that visit flowers or vegetables; toolshed inhabitants; creatures that dwell in weeds, bushes, and trees; and facts on insect flight. A four-page section offers general hints on how to attract wild creatures to your yard and observe them without destroying their habitats. A few notes on safety are included. An eight-page picture index leads readers to each creature in photo illustration and text. Similarly formatted, Michael Gaffney's Secret Forests (Golden, 1994; o.p.) is about insects and small creatures that dwell in tropical, pine, and leafy forests. Neither book offers sufficient information for reports, but Bishop gives even youngsters who don't have backyards a close-up and personal view of the natural world.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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