NATURE SCOPE INDIA -- AMAZING MAMMALS Publisher: Centre for Environmental Education (CEE), Ahmedabad Price: Not mentioned
NATURE Scope-India, one of the first publications of its kind in the country, is being brought out on the lines of the Washington-based National Wildlife Federation's NatureScope.
The first issue deals with different aspects of mammal life. A variety of interesting activities are suggested and graded according to the education level of the reader. The book's beautiful illustrations make it a delight to read and, rather than merely listing facts, the book provides extra information and explanations.
A chapter, "What Makes a Mammal" describes how animals are classified, the main characteristics of mammals and how they are different from other animals. Mammals, for example, have backbones and braincases, skin and glands and hair on their body. They are active and warm-blooded and they produce milk.
There is a lot of interesting information about marsupials. At birth, a kangaroo is about the size of a honey-bee! The new-born climb out of the characteristic pouch of the marsupials within a few weeks, or months, depending on the species.
Also described is how mammals adapt to the environment, their eating habits and self-defense strategies, such as the skunk's smelly spray and the porcupine's dreaded quills. The concept of the range of an animal, that is, the area in which it is generally active, has been explained well, with the help of a diagram that shows the range of different animals, from the house mouse to the elephant.
The book highlights how people and animals affect each other in their daily lives. The damage caused by hunting, poaching and deforesting, which results in the loss of natural habitat, is mentioned and conservation measures are suggested.
The activities suggested are both interesting and informative. For example, the activity "Mammals Past and Present", for the 8-10 age group, suggests comparing prehistoric mammals with their modern relatives, with the help of charts, time lines (showing the period when the prehistoric mammals lived), and a table displaying their names, physical descriptions, habitats and diet.
The periodicity of the publication and its price is not given. But undoubtedly it is an excellent publication. Such books are especially useful because they tackle children at a young age. It would be wonderful if they were prescribed as textbooks instead of the dull, NCERT, academically oriented ones.
Ashwini Ramanathan, 14, studies in Delhi Public School in R K Puram, New Delhi.