Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Tarantula Scientist

Montgomery, S. (2004). The tarantula scientist. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

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The Tarantula Scientist is biological science book because it focuses on spiders, a type of living organism. I would also consider this book to be a photo essay book because it is equally balanced between text and actual photographs. It wouldn't be considered a picture book because the text is very detailed and full of information.

The majority of this photo essay book takes place in French Guiana in South America. The book has an integral setting because the story would not be the same if it occurred in another location, due to the fact that tarantulas are very common in South America. Sam Marshall is an arachnologist, or a spider scientist. This book explains in significant detail about Sam's experiences as a scientist. Sam is amazed with tarantulas, which is why he chooses to visit French Guiana. As stated in the book, French Guiana is probably the tarantula capital of the world. The book tells all about tarantulas, such as the parts of their body, their size, their diet, their defense mechanisms, etc. The book not only describes Marshall's experiences, but also gives information about how tarantulas got their name, gives information about lots of other spider species, and gives details about other animals that you can find in a rainforest such as French Guiana. Toward the end of the book, the reader takes a trip back to Marshall's hometown where you get to "visit" his spider lab in Ohio. You learn about what all occurs in the lab. At the end of the book, Marshall gives French Guiana another visit and meets with children who live there to teach them about tarantulas.

I really enjoyed learning all the facts that this book had to offer. The actual photographs of the tarantulas, scorpions, frog, and the spider lab were very interesting. Obviously, because this photo essay book has real photographs, the artistic media would be color photography. Nic Bishop was responsible for the photographs in The Tarantula Scientist. While evaluating the book, I noticed that the writing was very clear and understandable, the facts were accurate because the information came from an actual arachnologist. I suppose that Montgomery received his facts from reliable information from Sam Marshall. The cover as well as the photographs are very appealing and I feel they would interest children. The pictures of the spiders are very large, drawing attention to tiny details of the spiders, such as the tiny hairs on their bodies and the eyes on their heads.

The Tarantula Scientist would be appropriate for ages 11-14 because of the difficulty and length of the text. It would be perfect to use this book in science class when the teacher introduces the concept of biological science. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in the field of science or spiders. Personally, I wouldn't just pick this book off the shelf and have the desire to read it because I'm not particularly interested in spiders. I think that this book would appeal more to boys, who I feel have more interest in organisms such as spiders, more than girls.

BIG questions - How would you feel if Sam Marshall took you on a journey to the "tarantula capital of the world?" Why is is that tarantulas rarely bite or hurt humans?

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