Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

A is For Anaconda: A Rainforest Alphabet

A is For Anaconda: A Rainforest Alphabet

Anthony D. Fredericks
Illustrator:  Laura Regan 
Nonfiction picture and poetry book
For ages 6 to 10
Sleeping Bear Press, 2013   ISBN: 978-1585363179

There was a time when fourteen per cent of the Earth’s surface was covered by rainforests. That number has gone down by more than half, which is an environmental tragedy on many levels. Rainforests are hugely diverse, rich in plant and animal species. Many of these species cannot be found anywhere else, and when they go extinct due to deforestation we all lose something priceless. Many of the plant species, in particular, contain compounds that could help us cure diseases. If we wipe them out before we can study them what might we be losing?

For every letter in this beautiful alphabet book we get to explore one or two topics that are relevant to rainforests. For each letter we are given a poem, an illustration, and one or two sections of informative text. For example, for the letter A we meet the anaconda, a boa constrictor that is one of the longest snakes in the world. So large are these animals that they can swallow a deer or a jaguar whole. We see a picture of the anaconda, sliding through the water of a stream, read a poem about it, and then read some text that describes its habits and how big it is. The letter A is also for Australia, a country (and continent) that has very distinct rainforests.

Other animals we meet on the pages of the book include gorillas, hummingbirds, iguanas, jaguars, and poison dart frogs. Then there are plants such as orchids and the kapok tree.

We also learn about the ecology of the rainforest. For example, on the page for the letter C we learn about the canopy, which is one of the four layers found in a tropical rainforest. The letter D is all about dispersers, the animals “who eat and spread the seeds” and thus help “the forest thrive.” The letter F is about food webs, those feeding relationships that connect different species in an environment. The letter L tells us about litter, the dead organic material that “falls onto the forest floor” and that “helps forms part of the soil.”

The format presented in this title is quite special because it makes this book suitable for readers of a variety of ages. Young children will be particularly drawn to the artwork and the poems, while older children will be eager to find out what the sections of text have to say. This book can therefore grow with a child.

This is one in a series of alphabet books published by Sleeping Bear Press.

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