Friday, August 17, 2018

Here Be Dragons

Remember tales of knights and dragons? And maps where off in the corner fancy lettering claimed "Here be Dragons"? This trio of books introduces dragons and their smaller kin.

The Lizard Lady
by Jennifer Keats Curtis and Dr. Nicole F. Angeli; illus. by Veronica V. Jones
32 pages; ages 4-8
Arbordale, 2018

This book takes readers on a field trip through thick Caribbean forests in search of the endangered St. Croix ground lizard. The lizard doesn't live on St. Croix anymore because it was hunted to extinction by introduced mongooses. But the lizard does live on surrounding islands, and Dr. Nicole Angeli is on a mission to help them survive and thrive.

Dr. Angeli, known to all as the Lizard Lady, has to use all her senses to find these tiny, secretive reptiles. When she captures one, she takes it to her science shack where she can weigh it and make observations. Then she carefully returns the lizard to the spot she found it.

What I like about this book: the list of things the Lizard Lady carries with her when she heads off on a hike! Waaay more stuff than a notebook and pen. I also like the back matter. There's information and maps showing St. Croix and the surrounding islands in the Caribbean. There's additional information on the St. Croix lizard and its adaptation, as well as the invasive mongoose. And there's a great bio-note on Dr. Angeli.

You can learn more about St, Croix ground lizards here and here.

St. Croix lizards are just one of many threatened and endangered reptile species. Another is the Komodo dragon - not a dragon at all, but it sure looks like one!

Real Dragons
by Jennifer Szymanski
48 pages; ages 2-5
National Geographic Children's Books, 2018

Magical dragons may not exist, but many animals look like dragons. And some even do things a dragon might do. Some lizards have frilly collars, some have spikes, and some hiss when threatened by enemies.One even has saliva that burns like fire... and another can fly - or at least glide.

What I like about this book: it introduces a diversity of reptiles that share "dragon-like" features. The book is divided into chapters, there's a table of contents, and an activity at the end of each chapter. Here's one you can do right now: draw a picture of your very own dragon!

With all this talk of dragons, it makes sense to connect with a real live dragon ...

Dear Komodo Dragon
by Nancy Kelly Allen; illus. by Laurie Allen Klein
32 pages; ages 4-9
Arbordale, 2018

Leslie wants to be a dragon hunter when she grows up. She is really lucky, because a real dragon is her pen pal - a Komodo dragon living on one of the Indonesian islands. The story is told through a series of letters back and forth, in which Komo describes his life and family.

"My spiffy good looks come from the third eye in the top of my head," he writes. The illustrations are fun - I especially like Leslie's drawings of dragons, and the dragon-hunting tunic she wears. But when Komo is injured by a bigger dragon, Leslie realizes that she cares about her big reptilian friend too much to hunt him down.

"What can I do to help you and other Komodo dragons?" she writes. Komo replies, and the conversation on that topic is carried into back matter where there's a page about conservation. There is a fun page of dragon facts "by the numbers" and information on adaptations. Learn more about Komodo dragons here.

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup.   On any other Friday we'd be joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, but it's summer vacation. PPBF will resume in September, but you can always head over to Susanna Hill's ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies from publishers.

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