BOOKS ARE MOST COMPELLING
do the leafy sea dragon, poison hemlock and Amazon rainforest have in
common? Each is ranked as No. 1 within a certain category: camouflage,
deadly plants, and awesome ecosystems, respectively. The rankings are
given in a series of books that bear the Scholastic logo and are published
by Rubicon Publishing. The three No. 1 examples mentioned are in books
in the nature series.
sea dragon qualifies for the No. 1 slot in "The 10 Best Animal
Camouflages" because even if you picked one up you would not think
you were holding an animal. This strange little marine fish, which lives
along the western and southern coasts of Australia, survives by looking
like a piece of drifting seaweed. Leafy sea dragons can reach lengths
greater than a foot but still look like flimsy pieces of floating vegetation.
to the book, they have no natural predators. Not that they would make
much of a meal even if another animal did eat them. One of their peculiar
traits, which is also characteristic of their close relatives the sea
horses, is that the males carry the eggs until they hatch. Among the
greatest threats to leafy sea dragons are pollution of marine waters
and the illegal collection and removal of individuals as oddities for
species in the top 10 best camouflages are chameleons (No. 10), snowshoe
hares (No. 8), and zebras (No. 6). The cuttlefish, a relative of squids
that most people are not well acquainted with, gets the No. 2 camouflage
ranking. Each account provides thorough explanations of why the particular
camouflage is effective in its environment.
10 Deadliest Plants," poison hemlock qualifies as No. 1 because
it can be fatal to humans who eat any part of it. Certain other plants
might be listed as No. 1 by other organisms. For example, No. 9 in the
list of deadliest plants, the strangler fig, a parasitic, tree-crushing
vine, would be much more threatening to a big tree in the American tropics
than would poison hemlock. Strangler figs have been the death of many
No. 7, the Venus flytrap, might be considered the deadliest of plants
to a housefly or ladybug beetle. But rather than nitpick about why poison
hemlock is considered the deadliest, enjoy reading about the various
plants on the list. For example, two popular flowering plants, azaleas
(No. 4) and rhododendrons (No. 2) are included in the top 10 because
both can be deadly if consumed by humans.
remarkable habitats and locations is a tough job, but many would agree
that the Amazon rainforest should be No. 1 in "The 10 Most Awesome
million square miles of tropical rainforest in South America with an
enormous river, the Amazon, flowing through it is home to millions of
plant and animal species and indisputably awe-inspiring.
the other familiar ecosystems in the top 10 ranking are the Florida
everglades (No. 9), Galapagos Islands (No. 8), and Sonoran desert (No.
6). Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef ecosystem
in the world, with its incredible biodiversity is ranked No. 2. As with
other books in the series, the excellent color photographs contribute
to readers' enjoyment and enlightening facts aid in their understanding
of each awesome ecosystem.
the appeal of these books lies in people's liking for lists (especially
top-10 rankings) and their fascination with bizarre natural phenomena.
And just as people differ about the rankings for sports, movies, and
books, not everyone will agree on the top 10 in these books. In a classroom
situation, considering the order of the top-10 items in any given category
could spark a lively debate.
books open with this statement: "Much thought, debate, and research
went into choosing and ranking the 10 items in each book in this series."
For the books I have seen, that assertion appears to be completely accurate.
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