Sep 23, 2013

Lifetime- The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives

Chronicle Books, 2013
In the previous post author Lola M. Schaefer was kind enough to share her thoughts on the making of her newest picture book, LIFETIME- The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives. I'm a fan of all of her titles, but I'm especially excited about her non-fiction books. They offer accessible, lyrical text and her varied illustrators produce extraordinary images to enhance and extend the content. Well-written back matter  allow her seemingly simple books to engage and intrigue readers of all ages.

Here's a challenge for you, one I feel confident in issuing. My confidence is rooted in knowing the degree of energy Lola invests when researching her topics. (If you haven't read the interview linked above, this might be a good time. It's okay, we'll be here when you pop back to us!) So, go ahead and try to find the numbers she provides here. Scroll through web searches, check text books, try any other ready source. Until Lola did her due diligence on this project, the "AMAZING NUMBERS" revealed in the pages of LIFETIME were not available. Not without duplicating the complex search, verification, and computation processes she completed to assure reliability of her facts.

"Fills a clever niche for both animal science and mathematics."-Booklist

LIFETIME: interior spread (Chronicle Books)
The illustrator, Christopher Silas Neal, rose to the occasion with the accuracy and appeal of each double page spread. Challenge number two: try to catch him in an error, in number or in the accuracy of the flora and fauna he depicts for each scene. You can bet your 'gator that kids will be doing this, convinced that he slipped up somewhere. Who could be that meticulous? 
Neal could, and is.

LIFETIME: interior spread (Chronicle Books)
That might not sound impressive when it comes to showing twenty alpaca fleeces. But just imagine illustrating exactly 900 flowers visited by a swallowtail butterfly's lifetime, or the ONE THOUSAND baby seahorses a male seahorse will carry and birth in a lifetime. I'm admitting right here that my own compulsion to verify the counts on each page did not extend to these illustrations, but you can bet there will be kids who commit to the task.

And don't be fooled thinking he used computer image flips to accomplish this. The giraffe pages are proof of that. Go ahead, look at the reverse images carefully. How many ways can you find to prove to yourself that these reveal opposite side views of a particular giraffe, not just a mirror image.

Don't take my word for it that older kids will be engrossed in this book. Check out what eleven-year-old Erik on THIS KID REVIEWS BOOKS blog has to say about it. It's worth reading in full (as his reviews always are) but I love his conclusion:
"I would love to see more nonfiction PB done as well as this one.
I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!"
Another review with a hearty endorsement of LIFETIME can be found on WAKING BRAIN CELLS blog (well worth following!). Again, read the full and detailed review. My favorite line from it is this: 
"One of the most visually stimulating and smart concepts for a nonfiction picture book, 
this one is sure to beat the averages and be read more than once."
Lola M. Schaefer

 LIFETIME: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives offers the timeless power of snuggles and smiles, of counting and curiosity, of nature and numbers. Lola Schaefer and Christopher Silas Neal paired with the editors and designers at Chronicle Books to produce a "keeper", one of those books that will last a lifetime and will be shared with generations to come. So, happy book birthday to you, Lola, and here's to many years of happy readers ahead!

And by the way, readers, if you take me up on one one of the challenges. let me know what you find!
My thanks to Chronicle books for an advance copy which allowed me to issue this review on the launch date, September 24, 2013.


  1. I'm really looking forward to reading this - and counting the ones I can manage!

    1. Cathy, hope you like it, and thanks for stopping by the blog. :-)

  2. What a great idea for a book! I too am looking forward to reading it. I can't get enough of animal fun facts these days- they're great for inspiration, I think.

    1. I couldn't agree more. My sister is the major giraffe fan in our family, but now I want to take a camera to the zoo and scour the internet for pix to see how many adult giraffes approximate the average. Just call me a giraffe stalker!
      Thanks for stopping by the blog, Jane.


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