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Jungle treasure trove

SECRETS OF THE RAINFOREST. Partners and Parents. Plants and Planteaters. Predators and Prey. Poisoners and Pretenders. By Michael Chinery. Cherrytree Books pound;9.99 each.

Everyone appreciates the richness of species in the tropical rainforests. Few realise the true extent of this bounty. In this series, Michael Chinery combines a wealth of fascinating and often unique photographs with fresh and detailed information on the immense range of plant and animal life found in these teeming jungles.

Each book contains about eight short chapters highlighting the characteristics of the lives of forest creatures and plants, illustrating links in the food chain and the curious adaptations to environment evident in so many species.

Readers will be fascinated by the different frogs, snakes and insects, and the dangers lurking in riversand tree-tops. In one intriguing photograph, 10 writhing male anacondas are seeking to mate with one female. Blue, yellow and orange mottled frogs inhabit a double-page spread. Colour is everywhere, to attract mates and to act as camouflage.

The photograph captions are informative and clearly written. However, while the text reads well, it may be beyond all but the brightest junior pupils.

Each volume includes an extensive and helpful glossary, a detailed index, references to further reading and a world map locating areas of rainforest, all of which encourage elementary research. Placed in any school library, these books would be eagerly devoured by the many youngsters who are fascinated, and sometimes slightly scared, by exotic wildlife.

Colin Harris is a geography and environmental education consultant

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