It Came from Planet Earth will astound and amaze kids and adults as it introduces them to animals that are strange in appearance, behavior, or both. Photographs help even beginning readers to maintain focus and excitement. Entertaining as well as informative, this is a book that parents and children will enjoy reading together, but it is also one that the older child can comfortably read alone.
Everyone is fascinated by the Octopus, a very intelligent animal that seems only to consist of a swimming head followed by eight arms or tentacles. Most people will be unlikely to have heard of the mammals that lay eggs, the monotremes. In this book, one can learn all about the only two living monotremes--the Duck-Billed Platypus and the Echidna. Their physiology and behaviors will intrigue even the very youngest reader.
Then there is a marsupial, a mammal that produces young that are so immature that they must live in a pouch on the outside of the mother’s body. Our example of this adaptation is the Tasmanian Devil, a bizarre looking creature with a growl so eerie that it led people to call it a devil. Although the Echidna is an egg layer, it too has a pouch for its babies just like the Tasmanian Devil. The young remain in the pouch until they are ready for independent life.
Among the many other animals portrayed in this book are The Komodo Dragon, a transparent frog called a Glass Frog, the world’s largest rodent called the Capybara, and the Leafy Dragon Seahorse which looks exactly like sea weed, among many creatures.
Adults and children of many ages will delight in reading of these and other very different animals, including the Tarsier, Sea Cucumber, Kiwi birds, and the Coelacanth—a species of fish which was believed to be extinct until it was found alive in 1938. It and the Tuatara are truly considered to be living fossils. Giant Tortoises, Komodo Dragons, and the Axolotl are more animals that seem to be from another, far more exotic time.
It is amusing to learn about the Kakapo, a portly bird that waddles and cannot fly because New Zealand had no land animals to endanger it until people came and brought pets and other beasts from outside the island. As much fun as readers will have, they will learn much about the animal world and the risks our planet and its animals face.
Unusual behaviors and adaptations are discussed in a stimulating, but informative and age-appropriate manner. Camouflage, cooling by the surging of blood to the exterior of the animal, and neotony—the retention of juvenile appearance throughout life—are among the variations that are explained in words and concepts that are accessible to young readers. The very young will also grasp this information when an adult is doing the reading.
Issues of diminishing habitat and the endangerment of many of these creatures are important for children to learn about in a non-alarming manner. It Came from Planet Earth! will hold the interest of both parents and children. All readers will learn a lot about animal behavior, adaptations, and the biotic world.
About Maya Lee Shye
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Published December 3, 2013
Nature & Wildlife, Children's Books.