O’Sullivan invites readres to join North American animals who regularly take to the “Herptile Highway,” the “Polar Bear Parkway,” “Bison Boulevard,” or “Salmon Street.”
Whether driven by seasonal changes in food sources, the “need to breed,” or, like monarch butterflies, more mysterious urges, some animals travel hundreds or even thousands of miles over cyclical routes. The author highlights a dozen creatures and mentions others. She marvels at the seemingly miraculous navigation skills of salmon and gray whales and sounds ominous notes about rapidly declining populations of monarchs and polar bears; she describes efforts to create safer crossings over paved roads for migratory snakes and amphibians (“herptiles”) in Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest and migration corridors through fenced-in land for pronghorn antelopes in Wyoming and elsewhere. Along with maps and photos aplenty, she tucks in kid-friendly factual snippets about each creature, as well as specific locations where each can be observed on its habitual round. Though many of the photographs go uncaptioned and so add little beyond eye candy, this broad and breezy overview will stimulate young animal lovers’ “need to read” about one of the natural world’s behavioral wonders.
Budding biologists who have taken first steps with the likes of Marianne Bertes’ Going Home: The Mysteries of Animal Migration, illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio (2010), will find themselves drawn further down that road.
Ranger Rick, the National Wildlife Federation’s nature-loving raccoon and magazine star, helps children follow the migratory paths of nine animals across land, sea, and sky. A section on “herptiles” (reptiles and amphibians) takes readers to southern Illinois where some 50 species of snakes and amphibians migrate across “Snake Road” each spring and autumn; a segment about grey whales traces their 10,000-mile journey from Alaska to Mexico, “one of the world’s longest animal migrations.” Photographs, migration maps, and resources for readers who hope to witness firsthand some of these migrations round out a solid introduction to some impressive feats of animal ambulation.
This well-researched effort, crowded with photos, maps, and text boxes, introduces the migratory habits of a dozen (mostly) North American animals. O’Sullivan explores migration by land (examining snakes, pronghorns, bison, and polar bears), by sea (salmon, manatees, and gray whales), and by sky (cranes and monarch butterflies). In addition to a few pages of general information, each entry contains some “Quick Facts” (the animal’s range, how many miles it travels, which season it journeys), material on ways in which people are working to protect the species in question, maps of migration paths, and a list of resources for observing these creatures in the wild. The writing is accessible, while the layout is busy yet attractive. The book ends with an extensive index and suggested sites for further study. VERDICT A fine overview of the topic; ideal for researchers and browsers.
-School Library Journal
It’s hard to remember when we were first taught that birds fly south for the winter and head back north for the summer, but the larger scope of animal migrations is one that is likely to capture the imagination of most children. From the National Wildlife Foundation, the organization behind the children’s nature magazine Ranger Rick, this book examines the mostly seasonal movements of animals in North America. The animals profiled fly, swim, roam, and slither across their habitats for ranges that span the relatively short 1/4-to 5-mile movements of 35 species of snakes and amphibians on the “Snake Road” in Illinois to the up to 10,000-mile coastal journey of gray whales from Mexico to Alaska. The book is broken into three parts-land, sea, and sky—and profiles a range of animals, examining their travels over the year. Highlighting diverse animals—including insects, fish, herptiles, mammals, and birds—maps and pictures are put to good use as the text discusses why animals are driven to move and how their journeys are being affected by humans and human-related changes in the environment. Parents will especially like the introduction and definition of new vocabulary words and concepts as applied to animal movements, as well as the glossary at the end of the book. In addition, each section ends with a list of websites parents can explore with their children to learn more about the species profiled.