Bubble Homes and Fish Farts
Fiona Bayrock, author
Fiona Bayrock has always enjoyed playing with words, but was well into adulthood before discovering her passion for science. She has since written books for educational and specialty markets in Canada and the U.S., as well as 60+ articles, stories, and poems for children's magazines such as Highlights for Children, Odyssey, KNOW, and YES Magazine.
Read more about Fiona.
Carolyn Conahan, illustrator
Carolyn Conahan is the staff illustrator for Cricket magazine and the author/illustrator of The Twelve Days of Christmas Dogs (Dutton). She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Read more about Carolyn.
- Junior Library Guild Selection
- Keystone to Reading Book Award, intermediate level winner
- Best Books for Kids & Teens
Bayrock's love of "way cool science" bubbles over in this surprisingly substantial book.
How do animals use bubbles? For sailing, running, berthing, nesting--even playing (dolphins seem to blow bubbles just for fun.) Sixteen double-page spreads cover 16 wholly different ways that fish, insects, amphibians and mammals use bubbles. Did you know that one species of spider creates a bubble home to live in underwater? That the popping bubbles of a napping shrimp can be "so loud it gets in the way of U.S. Navy sonar"? That the water shrew can actually run across the surface of the water courtesy of the bubbles trapped between its hairy toes? Lively expository prose deftly combines straightforward facts (the scientific name of each animal), sound effects (the "fwap-fwap-fwap-fwap" of tree frogs creating foam) and kid-friendly comparisons (the gourami fish spitting eggs into its nest looks like it's playing basketball). Conahan's whimsical watercolor illustrations, complete with conversational bubbles, add humor and interest.
Three pages of additional facts and a combined glossary/index round out a volume that's sure to rise to the top.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
If most children think bubbles are for blowing or bubbles are for bathing, Bayrock is here with a paradigm shift, showcasing sixteen different nonrecreational and nonhygenic ways that animals use bubbles. For the star-nosed mole, for instance, "bubbles are for finding food," as he blows bubbles through his nose, breathes them back in, and follows the scent to his next meal. For the violet sea snail, on the other hand, "bubbles are for sailing," and its raft of bubbles floats it along the ocean surface to "feast on food that most shelled ocean animals can't reach." Each double-page spread includes the animal's common and scientific names, a paragraph explaining the use and survival advantage of the bubbles, and a watercolor scene of the habitat. The appeal of the topic is instantly obvious even without the irresistible lure of fish farts, and this will definitely give kids a different slant on water use. The soft haziness of the watercolor renderings occasionally obscures the action of the bubbles, but the closeup views and occasional insertion of humorous dialogue in--what else?--bubbles will keep readers interested. An appendix of brief entries for each animal expand the text with habitat, size, geographic location, and an "amazing fact"--the requisite information for novice report writers--and a glossary with page references is also included.
School Library Journal
Fast Repetitive Tick (FaRT) is the term scientists use to describe the flatulencelike noise that herring make as they communicate their locations to one another. That might be the most amusing description of the uses of bubbles in the natural world, but this entire book is enjoyable and engaging. From the protective hiding places young juniper spittlebugs create to the foamy nest that the African gray treefrog whips up around her freshly laid eggs in the branches above a pool, bubbles are described and pictured. The illustrations are pale and less-detailed versions of scientifically accurate drawings overlaid with entertaining comments, e.g., parent frogs admonish, "Careful, kids!" and "Don't talk to any predators!" The comments may be corny, but they infuse the information with fun. The single-page glossary defines terms simply and effectively, e.g. flatulence is described as "The scientific name for farting." Two spreads of "More amazing facts..." offer additional information about each species' habitat, location, and physical attributes. Creative, accessible, and fact-filled.
This intriguing book shows the surprisingly varied ways in which bubbles are incorporated in animals' lives. A watercolor painting fills each double-page spread, while superimposed headings identify the species and the purpose of its bubbles ("Keeping Warm," "Running," "Breathing," "Playing") and a paragraph of text explains what it does. For instance, a humpback whale swims in circles to create a "bubble net," herding fish toward the center, where they can be scooped into its enormous mouth. Juniper spittlebug nymphs encase themselves in a mound of gooey foam that protects them until they are ready to molt. These and other animals' techniques for creating and using bubbles are well described in succinct paragraphs. Thought balloons, carrying brief comments from the animals, add a bit of levity. A glossary and four pages of "amazing facts" are appended. Illustrated with finesse, this attractive book introduces 16 bubble makers, from insects to humans.
The Boston Globe
"Bubble Homes and Fish Farts" by Fiona Bayrock (with illustrations by Carolyn Conahan, Charlesbridge, ages 4-8, $16.95) gets my vote for the year's best book with the world's worst title. That level of bathroom humor, luckily, goes no further than a few "comical" bubble captions per page, but most of the text, and its lush double-spread watercolor illustrations deserve wide readership.
In it, Bayrock offers an elegant filed guide for young naturalists. "Bubble Homes" also serves as an introduction to marine animals that use bubbles in various ways, from the small violet sea snail ("about the size of a large grape") hanging upside down "from its floating bubble raft," to medium-sized sea otters who utilize bubbles of air "like a down comforter," all the way to the enormous humpback whale, "with a mouth the size of a small living room" breathing out a "bubble net" with which to catch fish.
The back of the book is packed with a glossary and handy appendix listing each creature's habitat and size, offering a few additional "amazing facts" about each one. Conahan provides a gently humorous and creature-populated watercolor backdrop, in a palette of soft blues, grays and greens.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-124-6 PDF
Page count: 48
8 1/2 x 11