Dec 24, 2014

Animal Talk

by Karen Gravelle and Anne Squire

This book is all about how animals communicate, with each other and with us. It's written for young readers (I would say age group eight to twelve) but is very informative and I even learned a few things (that ducklings coordinate their hatching time by responding to the mother's calls through the shell, and that rattlesnakes can't hear the sound they produce with their own tails!) While none of the topics are discussed in a lot of depth, they are all clearly presented. Each section is headed with a short descriptive passage of an animal interacting with others, and then the following chapter explains how this is possible. Not only the different methods animals use to communicate- sound, scent, touch, body posture and so on- but also why their communication abilities differ (animals that live underground or are nocturnal don't use many visual signals, for example). Animals featured in the book include honeybees, rattlesnakes, prairie dogs, housecats, chimpanzees, songbirds, elephants, seals, deer, frogs, sheep and even certain fish (which pulse electric signals to each other)! The final chapters discuss why dogs are so good at communicating with people (we share many similar types of signals) and how humans have taught signals and rudimentary language to dolphins, chimpanzees and gorillas. I was familiar with the apes briefly presented here- Lucy, Washoe and Koko. Even though this book is written for kids, it was a satisfying quick read for me.

Rating: 3/5        114 pages, 1988

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