Jaclyn Giordano's Reviews > Frogs

Frogs by Nic Bishop
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's review
Apr 26, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: award-winning-nonfiction
Read from April 26 to 30, 2010

"Nic Bishop Frogs," written and illustrated by Nic Bishop, is an award-winning, nonfiction picture book intended for readers in grades three through six. This book has won numerous awards, including the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book for Nonfiction in 2008, which is an award to “recognize and reward excellence in literature for children and young adults” (www.hbook.com). This text was also honored as "School Library Journal’s" Best Books: 2008, which award tests for “having distinctive voices, singular vision, and/or innovative approaches” (www.schoollibraryjournal.com). "Nic Bishop Frogs" was also recognized as a 2008 Notable Children’s Book by the Association for Library Service to Children, which honors texts that are defined as “worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding…. commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity…and reflect and encourage children's interests in exemplary ways” (www.ala.org). This text was named an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students in 2008, an award which is based on text accuracy, attractiveness, creativity, detailed graphics, and opportunity for continued exploration and journeys (www.nsta.org).

Nic Bishop is an award-winning author and an experienced nature writer and photographer who has been fascinated by nature photography since the age of nine. He has photographed animals, plants, and landscapes, making nature accessible to the eyes and minds of all ages. Bishop states, “the youngest of children can interpret sophisticated images of nature” (www2.scholastic.com). Bishop has a doctorate in biological science and his experience, research, and exploration of his texts truly make Bishop an expert in his field of nonfiction nature writing. In "Nic Bishop Frogs," Nic Bishop takes the reader on a journey into the world of frogs, from their remarkable body parts and characteristics to their growth process to unique facts about a wide variety of frogs.

"Nic Bishop Frogs" is a text with much authority. The authority within this text is undeniable, as the world-traveled Bishop holds a doctorate in biological sciences and is the son of two biologists. Bishop’s notes at the conclusion of the text, documenting his journey in photographing and researching frogs, from training frogs to jump for flies to exploring ponds and swamps to rearing baby frogs, demonstrate his dedication to the research process. Bishop also credits and thanks the Binder Park Zoo, demonstrating his consultation and research into the zoological scientific field. On his website, Bishop credits his research to three main sources: his biology background, first-hand observation, and academic books (www.nicbishop.com). For books published after 2008, Bishop clearly gives bibliographic references on his website. His authority and research is well-documented.

Along with authority, "Nic Bishop Frogs" also demonstrates accuracy. Clear photographs and captions radiate well-researched content and new facts. A "Kirkus" review states, “the text is a series of happy factlets that, when finished, provide a surprisingly thorough overview of frog physiology and behavior.” The reviewers of "Horn Book" agree, stating “the texts are informative, covering basic anatomical, behavioral, and reproductive facts about frogs” (http://bookwizard.scholastic.com). Clear and close-up photographs illuminate and extend the facts, giving the reader a true picture of the ideas and facts captured within that page’s text. Phrases like “it can survive months and perhaps even years” and “at first the tadpole may feed on small plants” help distinguish theory from fact and further the accuracy of "Nic Bishop Frogs."

This text is appropriate for its intended age range of third through sixth grade. It may even be accessible to younger readers if done as a read aloud. The large amount of text on the page, which is carefully mounted up against the enormous photographs, requires careful reading of the audience. However, the text is made more accessible to the audience with important facts and main ideas on each page highlighted by a larger font size and different color font. This helps readers understand and identify the main idea given by both text and photograph on each given page. However, the text is not organized in any logical fashion, which may make it more difficult to understand. While it starts with where frogs live and their characteristics, readers then read about different frog body parts and specific types of frogs. While hibernation and the life cycle are followed chronologically, there does not seem to be any overall logical order to this text. Readers can read section by section and still understand distinct meanings. "Nic Bishop Frogs" seems more of a fact by fact book that can be read in favorite pieces or interests. Readers may have to be made aware of this organizational structure before reading in order to best understand it.

The literary artistry of this text is large. The world of frogs comes alive as “all kinds of frogs jump, stare, and pose in luminous, close-up photographs that inspire wonder” (www.schoollibraryjournal.com). The National Science Teacher’s Association website exclaims, “unusual facts as well as information concerning life cycles, defense tactics, and body structures will fascinate readers” (www.nsta.org). While organization is not this text’s strongest point, the use of literary devices is, as similes and comparative text help readers connect to the world of frogs. For example, phrases like “see-through eyelids cover them like safety goggles” and “while adult humans have 206 bones, frogs have about 159” help readers of all ages connect and understand frogs using their own experiences and pre-existing knowledge and ideas. Nic Bishop also speaks to the reader in the second person, making the readers feel like he is speaking directly to them with an expert and engaging voice. This can help hook readers and demonstrates clear artistry also.

The attractiveness of this text has been well documented above. The innovative, clear, and captivating photographs alongside facts written in large type and contrasting colors helps spark interest and enthusiasm for learning about frogs. A fold-out page demonstrating the leap of a bullfrog, as well as unusual, unique, and sometimes gross facts and photographs (“a few frogs will even freeze partly solid” and “the usually eat their old skin”), help entice readers and give this text “kid appeal.”

"Nic Bishop Frogs" demands readers’ full attention and creativity as they embark on an adventurous and fact-filled exploration into the wet and wild world of frogs!

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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Samantha (new)

Samantha Great review! I think you make great points about his authority. After browsing some of Nic Bishop's books our first day of class, it was easy to tell just how much time and energy he puts into his books. I think tat amount of research makes it easier for him to pare down information and present it clearly. I know how hard it is to say something concisely and in an entertaining way for children if you aren't 100% familiar with topics. His research (and amazing photography)set the bar very high for the books I read.

message 2: by Jaclyn (last edited May 06, 2010 10:13AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jaclyn Giordano Sam,

I agree. I think Bishop's engaging way of writing about his research and integrating text with his photographs will motivate readers to pick up other copies of his informational books with ease and excitement! Thanks!

Jaclyn Giordano

message 3: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Jackie,
Thanks for such a thorough review of this book! I do love the photography and the unusual facts that Nic Bishop includes in his books. You made a good point about the organization of the information presented. I was thinking about that when I read it with my son. He was so engaged in the facts but I am not sure how well he would have followed the text on his own.

Jaclyn Giordano Jennifer,

I think readers, especially younger ones, would have to be taught/introduced to Bishop's organizational style before reading. That way, they have an idea of how to read this book most efficiently and effectively!


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I think this book would be a great introduction or pre-cursor to a trip to the zoo. I know Brookfield has an extensive variety of frogs and this book could introduce some of those varieties to students. An activity could be designed to compare frog adaptations as well. For instance why are certain frogs blue, or clear and how does the color help the frog in its habitat.

Thanks for sharing.

Sunday Cummins Jackie,
Ditto to the comments above. What I was thinking as I read your review, was the authority and accuracy of your OWN REVIEW - which was developed as you embedded comments from several sources to support your points. Well done.

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