Children are born scientists: put them outside and with little or no prompting they'll be exploring their environment—climbing trees, digging in the ground, wading into creeks, peeking under rocks. Kids should be encouraged to explore, and that's why Jim Arnosky's new book Field Trips is such a treasure.
A fun instruction manual for kids who are curious about nature, Arnosky's book uses easily understood sketches and simple direction to guide readers through simple nature activities, beginning with the creepy-crawly part of the outdoors that youngsters become aware of before they can talk: bugs. With info on how to identify and hunt them, as well as tips on insects to avoid, the book will help get the budding scientist off to a great start.
Next on Arnosky's list is tracking animals, a great way to explore the outdoors. There's plenty of advice on how to distinguish footprints—from deer to fox to grouse—and how to follow sets of tracks. Arnosky also provides tips on how to record findings in a field-trip notebook. Arnosky's observations get a little more sophisticated as the book progresses. His next activity is bird-watching, and his delightful drawings should have kids looking to the sky. His artwork reminds me a lot of Robert McCloskey (Make Way for Ducklings); while not as whimsical, his drawings are detailed and thus very accessible to his intended audience.
Finally, the author guides young explorers along the shoreline—rivers, lakes and oceans. From the vantage point of the water's edge, he identifies aquatic plants, fish, shells and fossils. A wealth of opportunities for observation and collecting await young explorers along the shore.
Summer is almost here, and this book should be in the library of every home with a budding Jane Goodall or Robert Ballard. If your kids are whining "there's nothing to do," give them Field Trips and a sketchbook and turn them loose in the backyard, the vacant lot or the park down the street. You might even want to go with them—who knows, you could all learn something!
James Neal Webb likes to walk the shoreline of Radnor Lake in Nashville. Copyright 2002 BookPage Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2002 Fall
Helpful information on planning outdoor experiences is woven through four chapters filled with detailed sketches of bugs, animal tracks, birds, and the plants and animals at the water's edge. The book's annotated descriptions introduce readers to the conventions of plant and animal classification and infuse the text with Arnosky's friendly encouragement. Ind. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2002 #4
A walk through the woods or along the shore takes on new meaning with the advice provided for novice naturalists in this first-rate guide. Helpful information on planning outdoor experiences-everything from a walk around the schoolyard to an expedition to the ocean-is woven through four chapters filled with detailed sketches of bugs, animal tracks, birds, and the plants and animals at the water's edge. The book's annotated descriptions introduce readers to the conventions of plant and animal classification and infuse the text with Arnosky's friendly encouragement: "If you are always noticing footprints in your yard, on woodland paths, and on dusty trails, you are an animal tracker." He focuses readers on what to look for and where, rightfully assuming that natural curiosity just needs a little nudge to become careful observation. In this spirit, readers are invited to start their own field notebooks; helpful sample notebook pages in each chapter illustrate how to record sightings of animals and plants. They're excellent models-just enough detail to help children grasp the genre, but not too much to discourage them from putting to paper their own observations of the world around them. An index is included. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2002 March #2
Each chapter of this field guide focuses on one wildlife field trip in which the reader can discover, investigate, identify, and learn about the various plants and animals that live in the wild. The text is filled with Arnosky's (All About Frogs, p. 42, etc.) characteristically detailed pencil sketches, which will help readers in identifying the various flora and fauna. In fact, the drawings and captions give information that adds to the reader's understanding of the topic. They also serve as an example for children to use in setting up their own wildlife field notebook. Any chapter can stand alone, complete with its own safety precautions and identification charts. In the first, readers are introduced to the various insects and arachnids that fill the world, and are given hints for finding, viewing, and identifying bugs. Animal Tracking introduces the wealth of information that can be learned about an animal from just one set of tracks. Chapter three teaches readers about bird-watching, and is especially good at helping children learn the identifying marks that can distinguish one bird from another. Lastly, readers are taught about the many and varied plants and animals that can be found along the edges of water-salt or fresh. Throughout, the author does a good job of introducing and defining new terms to young readers. His chapters are short, easy to understand, and filled with illustrations. While most of the text relates to the bolded title that precedes it, there are times that paragraphs seem out of place or disjointed. In addition, many young readers may not appreciate the author's introductory section to each chapter, as this details his own education and experience with the topic. Still, this is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to know more about the great outdoors, and especially for anyone who is a budding nature artist-and who better than Arnosky to serve as an example? (Nonfiction. 7-12) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 May #3
Children's NOTES For the Great Outdoors Nature enthusiasts will appreciate Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird-Watching and Shore Walking by Jim Arnosky. Designed as a scientific notebook, this sturdy volume prepares readers for extended outdoor excursions (e.g., the author recommends applying insect repellant and wearing a hat to ward off ticks), suggests various habitats for study and offers sample notebook pages for budding scientists to record observations and drawings. Detailed b&w illustrations help readers identify animals and their tracks. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2002 June
Gr 3-5-This four-part introduction includes sufficient information, both basic and specific, to prepare and guide a family or group on several enjoyable nature hikes. Arnosky presents general descriptions of life cycles and species identification; items needed for successful observation; and precautionary measures to ensure safety from tick bites, stinging insects, birds protecting their young, and powerful animals. Using his now-familiar field-log format, he has interwoven accurate pencil drawings and accompanying notes into the text and included several pages of silhouette and track charts that will help budding naturalists to identify various insects, birds, animal tracks, shells, plants, and trees. The author coaches readers on the proper way to record their observations accurately, offering sample pages of drawings and notes, and cautions them about removing living organisms from their natural habitat. This book is similar in content to Arnosky's Secrets of a Wildlife Watcher (Lothrop, 1983; o.p.), in which he details even more specifically some habits of various animals and birds, how to find them and safely observe them, and what to watch for.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.