Dinosaurs, snakes, and the like

KIDS don't miss a thing, do they? Fresh ways to channel all their alertness and curiosity into productive outdoor projects are offered in an intriguing catalog of great ideas called The Nature Book, by Midas Dekkers, illustrated by Angela de Brede (Macmillan, New York, $12.95, 95 pp., ages 8 to 12).

The author is a Dutch biologist with experience in turning kids on to science via children's television and radio programs.

The limitations of this otherwise marvelous book have to do with the differences between northern European and North American environments, especially urban ones. Also, weather, climate, geology, and other influences on plant and animal life hardly are mentioned.

Still, the basic ideas and principles Dekkers offers apply wherever one lives.

Although one can't directly observe dinosaurs these days, a book in the ``Let's Read-and-Find-Out Science Books'' series helps answer many questions.

Dinosaur Bones, by Aliki (Crowell, New York, $12.95, 32 pp., ages 4 to 8), mixes comic-strip layout with diagrams and straight illustrations - all using the same colored pencil drawing technique. That makes the book fun to skip through as well as read. It tells how we know what we know about dinosaurs, thus introducing a sense of the processes of scientific investigation.

At the back, there is a list of the dinosaurs mentioned in the text that tells where they were found and when they lived - all of which may help a child understand something about reference material and how to use it.

Another book in the same series, Snakes Are Hunters, by Patricia Lauber, illustrated by Holly Keller (Crowell, New York, $12.95, 32 pp., ages 4 to 8), tells a lot about snakes and their habits, while avoiding sensationalism or too-scary details.

Unfortunately, although the author allows that snakes may be seen in zoos, she doesn't sufficiently take into account that in many parts of the country snakes are very much at hand. Nor does she explain which ones are harmless!

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