Review Blog

Mar 04 2010

Poles apart: Life at the ends of the Earth by Dr Mark Norman

cover image

black dog books, 2010. ISBN 9781742031354.
(Ages: Primary) Highly recommended. What a wonderful, idea! And beautifully executed. One of my pet ggrrrs is that people mix up the animals, habitat and bird life of each of our polar regions, and here is a book which sets out plainly and seemingly simply, exactly what lives where.With succinct and precise words, Dr Mark Norman elucidates what each polar region is like. The North Pole is ice on sea, with the sea floor four kilometres below, whereas the Antarctica is land with three kilometres of solid ice above it. On the next page we are told what sort of flora exists in each region, then to the animals, the pages that will interest most kids.
Each double page spread has the North Pole information and pictures at the top, with the South Pole information and pictures at the bottom. Between each is small globe reiterating where the Polar Regions lie in relation to each other. No one reading this book will have any excuse to mix up the two! A clever device which works well is the simple turning of the book around to fit all this information together.
I was amazed at the differences between the two regions, the tundra of the north and the moss of the south, the flowers and insects in the north and the 'walks' in the south! Each double page spread held me captivated, learning new information and recalling things learnt years ago but long forgotten. The last double page tells the reader of the affects of global warming, and exhorts them to play their part in helping reduce the impact by planting trees, recycling and so on. A number of web sites is given for more information, and the book is wells served with a succinct glossary and useful index.
This like Dr Mark Norman's other books (The octopuses' garden: The Secret World under the Sea; The Penguin Book: Birds in suits; The Antarctica Book: Living in the freezer; The Shark Book: Fish with attitude and The Great Barrier Reef Book: Solar Powered) will attract attention from those who give out awards, and more importantly from its target audience, the kids. Dr Norman is senior curator at Museum Victoria.
Fran Knight

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