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Nature Books for Kids

Frogs
By Nic Bishop
Scholastic, 48 pages, $17.99 (4–8)

Step aside, Kermit. Other frogs deserve some time in the spotlight, too. Frogs touches on everything from how these amphibians breathe (through lungs and skin) to what they eat (anything from insects to cobras) and the lengths to which they will go to multiply. The strawberry dart poison frog, for instance, climbs 50 feet to deposit eggs into water-filled crevices of leaves. The book’s vivid close-ups of varied species, taken together, represent a potpourri of diverse shapes and colors. The mossy frog, for example, has bumpy skin that makes it hard to spot in the vegetation-lined streams in Vietnam where it lives; a brownish Amazonian toad “looks just like a dead leaf on the rain forest floor.” A horned toad with a mouse tale sticking out of its mouth might make some readers squirm, but they will also marvel at the glass frog’s transparent skin, which exposes a tiny internal organ system “as detailed as the insides of a wristwatch.” There are  more than 5,000 types of frogs identified in the world, and Bishop’s book provides a hearty sampling of a few favorites.—Julie Leibach
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Osprey Adventure
By Jennifer Keats Curtis

Illustrated by Marcy Dunn Ramsey
Tidewater Publishers, 32 pages, $13.95 (preschool–7)

Based on the work of Pete McGowan, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist stationed at a field office on Chesapeake Bay, Osprey Adventure tells the inspiring story of a father, known as Doc, and his son, who save a baby osprey from an untimely demise. While boating, the duo spies an osprey nest on a channel marker. Doc explains that these raptors make their homes out of almost any material they can find, but that certain garbage, such as balloon ribbons, can be dangerous because “they can twist around chicks and adults, tying them down so that they can’t move or eat.” As Doc suspects, one of the babies in this nest is entangled in fishing line, so he sets out to free it—with success. Marcy Dunn Ramsey’s oil paint illustrations perfectly complement the story: The scenery of Chesapeake Bay appears in subtle tones of purple, pink, blue, and gray, while Doc and his son, in a yellow jacket and life preserver, stand out like beacons. The ospreys, in turn, are comely, with white bellies, dark wings, and piercing yellow eyes. The scene of an alert mother osprey staring fixedly from her perch suggests that these birds mean business—and humans are an inescapable part of the deal.—Julie Leibach
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