Hurd, Edith Thatcher. Starfish (Let’s-Read-and-Find Out Science). Harper Collins, 2000 (reprint). ISBN 978-0064451987 40 pp. $5.99
Many first readers are repetitive, and this title from the Let’s-Read-and-Find Out Science series is no exception. The text is insulting: the endnote that says “Starfish are not really fish – they are sea stars” could most certainly have been included, but the book is dumbed down by the text talks down to the reader (or read to). An attempt at poetic prose comes out stilted and forced, and there are some difficult words for a stage one reader, such as tangle, oysters, and different.
The book shows great diversity, but makes no attempt to connect this microcosm to the larger picture. The book compares the different varieties without going into detail about any one. This is not a book that can be used for school reports.
The appendix is titled “Find out more about starfish” but instead of listing things like specific habitat, lifespan, number of young, how much sea stars eat per day, etc. the note about sea stars is offered. Further activities include copying and coloring starfish and making a collage, or going down to the ocean to observe them.
This is not a satisfying book, and since this is a topic of great interest to children, it is a shame that such a poor job was done. The only redeeming qualities of the book are the gorgeous watercolor collages by Robin Bricklaw. The muted wash backgrounds make the animals stand out in color and depth. Other (better) books on the topic are recommended.