Tag Archive: animals


Wild About Shapes by Jeremie Fischer

Wild about Shapes by Jeremie Fischer (InfoSoup)

A wonderfully simple idea, this book features abstract patterns on each facing page. Turn the clear plastic page with its abstract design so that it overlaps the first page and suddenly an animal is revealed. While some of the animals can be guessed from the designs or from the short text, many of them are complete surprises. Children will have to be paying close attention to spot some of the animals like the fish made from the white space on the page and the octopus that floats on another.

Spiral bound, this book is printed on card stock that will stand up to little hands. Even the acetate pages are strong and thick, limiting the amount of tearing that libraries will see. The text is very limited in the book, giving full attention to the clever illustrations. They are entirely playful and fun, the book less of a guessing game and more of art that you get to experience.

Children will want to turn the pages themselves, so that they are able to look back and forth between the abstract and the tangible on the page. So it’s best for sharing with only a few children at a time. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Daylight Starlight Wildlife by Wendell Minor

Daylight Starlight Wildlife by Wendell Minor (InfoSoup)

Explore the world of animals in your own backyard that come out either in the day or at night. Shown in pairs, the various animals are awake at opposite ends of the day. Hawks fly the skies in the bright sunlight while owls glide the skies after dark. Rabbits and their babies are active in the fields and meadows in the day while opossum mothers and their babies come out and forage the same areas at night. Even the butterflies of day are replaced by the moths of night. The book moves from bright page to dark page, each equally lovely and equally celebrated. This is a nice beginning book that looks at animals of all sorts that can be spotted in backyards across the U.S.

Minor provides brief comments on each of the animals that he highlights. He smartly chooses not to make the pairings rhyme, creating instead a natural flow with his prose that makes the book easy to share aloud and a pleasure to explore. His use of only backyard animals makes for an accessible read for young children who will delight in recognizing many of the daylight animals and may be very surprised by some of the nighttime ones.

As always, Minor’s artwork is stunningly lovely. He captures both the sun yellow of the daylight pages but also the glowing blues of night. Both are presented with loving detail and care, each page as lovely as the next. Thanks to his art, this book reads as a celebration of these animals and of the different times of day. Minor’s skill with light and shadow are on full display in this book.

A beautiful look at everyday animals that are active either in the day or the night, this picture book will inspire visits to dark backyards and sunlit ones. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Nancy Paulsen Books.

Ambush of Tigers by Betsy Rosenthal

An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns by Betsy R. Rosenthal, illustrated by Jago (InfoSoup)

Using wordplay and clever illustrations, this book celebrates the unique and fascinating world of collective nouns used for groups of animals. From a leap of leopards jumping through the trees near a tower of giraffes to a labor of moles working alongside a business of flies, the animals and their respective collective nouns are matched up to maximize both understanding and humor. Children will enjoy exploring these words and will puzzle over why certain animals are referred to in specific ways.

Rosenthal has carefully chosen the collective nouns she highlights in her book. She also has managed to pair them with interesting imagery in her poetry, such as a troop of kangaroos selling cookies and collecting money in their pouches. She uses rhyming couplets to make the book even more fast-paced and jaunty. The result is a book that is both fascinating and educational but also great fun.

The art by Jago takes the imagery from Rosenthal’s rhymes and turns it into pictures which add to the inherent humor. The sleuth of bears is hot on the heels of the murder of crows. His paintings make the collective nouns tangible and real, creating scenarios that are memorable.

A nice addition to the Ruth Heller books that are in most libraries, this book has a fresh tone and lots of humor. Appropriate for ages 5-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Wild! Board Books

wild bathtime wild bedtime

wild mealtime wild playtime

Wild! Bathtime by Courtney Dicmas

Wild! Bedtime by Courtney Dicmas

Wild! Mealtime by Courtney Dicmas

Wild! Playtime by Courtney Dicmas

Romping animal babies and zany humor combine to make this series a great pick for toddlers and infants.

Bathtime shows all sorts of different animals taking baths, cleaning faces and other parts of the body. The humor comes at the end with a mother pig looking dejectedly at her sleeping piglets who are all clean while she is dirty.

Bedtime invites everyone to curl up to sleep but some of the little animals are not quite ready yet. Grabbing your teddy has a different meaning here as does turning out the light. Clever little touches make this one that you will read again and again.

Mealtime has animals acting very much like toddlers. They want more to eat, eat too quickly, and even try to hide their peas. Once again clever matching of animals to phrases makes for fun reading.

Playtime is the ultimate romp of a book, showing lots of wrestling and movement. And the parents are all in for the fun, mostly.

This series will be appreciated by children who love animals and also little ones who may need an excuse to slow down and read a bit. Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from copies received from Child’s Play.

sand swimmers

Sand Swimmers: The Secret Life of Australia’s Desert Wilderness by Narelle Oliver

Set in the ferocious center of Australia, this book looks at one of the harshest climates in the world and the animals that not only survive there but thrive there. The “Dead Heart” of Australia can appear completely uninhabited at first, but this book has us look closer and see what the Aboriginal people have known for thousands of years. The huge salt lake has lizards, shrimp and frogs if you know where to look. The mulga scrublands have tangled timber but that is also shelter for spiders, ants, geckos, and birds. Down deep under the earth, there are even more animals sheltering. Even the oceans of rock and sand have animals living there. Explore an amazing ecosystem along with early explorers of Australia who failed to see the creatures hiding around them.

Oliver takes readers on an amazing journey through various regions of the center of Australia. Even the rocks and sand and plants themselves are wild and different from other parts of the world. Everything seems to combine to make the most uninhabitable ecosystem in the world, but that’s not true if you look deeper. Oliver takes readers deeper into the desert and readers will discover the beauty and life hidden in this desolate landscape.

Oliver’s illustrations combine line drawings of the creatures with smudged drawings of the early explorers. The combination of the crisp line drawings with the more smudged ones is very successful, giving readers a taste of both the animals themselves and the history.

A brilliant look at a fascinating habitat, this book goes far beyond the stereotypical kangaroos and koala bears of Australia. Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

bus ride

The Bus Ride by Marianne Dubuc

Released March 1, 2015.

A little girl sets off on her first bus ride all by herself.  Her mother packed her a snack and her sweater too.  But this is not a normal bus, with its passengers of rabbits, a bear, a turtle, a mouse and a very sleepy sloth.  Stop by stop, the bus picks up and drops off more and more animals.  A family of wolves enters the bus at one point and the little girl shares her snack happily with the little wolf.  The bus goes through a dark tunnel and everything gets mixed around in the dark, but things are quickly sorted back into some sort of normal.  There is even a cunning fox thief that the little girl helps chase off the bus at the next stop.  This is one wonderful adventure for a little girl all on her own who has an amazing ride.

First published in France, this picture book celebrates a child traveling on their own.  Though the larger animals may seem threatening at first, those fears are quickly allayed by their actions.  Even the wolf family acts very appropriately on the bus.  There is the thief but again the little girl is empowered enough to put a stop to his shenanigans herself.  Children in the U.S. will be astonished at the freedom of this little girl and the trust she is given.  They will also love the Little Red Riding Hood ties that are evident in the story.

Dubuc’s illustrations are done in fine lines and subtle colors. That adds to the gentleness of the tale and the feeling that everything is nonthreatening and OK.  Subtle things change on each page and children will want time to look closely at the pictures, particularly after the tunnel switches things around.

Warm and confident, this picture book is a friendly introduction to bus rides even though real life ones aren’t likely to have bears, wolves and sloths as part of the community. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Netgalley and Kids Can Press.

queens shadow

The Queen’s Shadow by Cybele Young

Released March 1, 2015.

This fascinating and unique nonfiction picture book takes a mystery and turns it into information about how various animals see.  At the Queen’s Ball, several different animals have gathered.  Then there is a flash of lightning and a moment of darkness.  When the lights come back on, the Queen’s shadow has been stolen!  Who stole it and how can they prove it?  One by one, each animal offers testimony to what they witnessed “colored” by the way they are able to see the world.  There are the eyes of the chameleon who can look in two directions at once but only shoot out his tongue when both eyes are focused on the same thing.  The shark excels at seeing contrast more than anything and notices patterns of light and dark. Pit viper sees in heat and cool. Dragonfly offers perspective from compound eyes. It will take each of their ways of seeing the world to solve this mystery. 

Young creates an entirely abstract and amazing world here. There is a strong sense of decorum throughout the book, no animals attacking each other and the human queen unafraid of any of her more predatory guests. She combines information for the mystery about what was witnessed through that specific set of eyes and then shares strictly scientific information in offset text boxes too. The result is a book that keeps you turning pages not only to solve the mystery but to continue seeing the world in such unique ways and learning more.

The illustrations have a feel of vintage illustrations with finely detailed ink drawings washed with color. This style is reworked though when seeing through other animals’ eyes so that with each turn of the page, the art is ever-changing and fascinating.

Peculiar in a delightful way, this nonfiction picture book is one that will appeal to children wanting to “see” more of the natural world.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Netgalley and Kids Can Press.

chimpanzee children of gombe

Chimpanzee Children of Gombe by Jane Goodall, photos by Michael Neugebauer

Jane Goodall invites young readers to spend some time in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania with the chimpanzee families she has been studying for decades.  Readers are introduced to two chimpanzee families, F-family and G-family, who are all named with that letter as the first in their name.  So there are Ferdinand, Faustino and Fifi and also Gremlin, Galahad and Gaia.  Goodall shows similarities between humans and chimpanzees, including greeting each other with kisses, having mothers who are good and others who are not so good, and children who love to play.  The book celebrates the close family bonds of chimpanzees, the caring mothers who lug children on their fronts and then their backs, siblings who play together, and the way young are taught to use tools.  The result is a book that is a trip to their world and an invitation to learn more about these amazing endangered animals.

Goodall writes with a wonderful inviting tone, explaining facts carefully but also allowing the images of the animals to tell much of the story.  She plays hostess in the book, taking care to make sure that children know the basics about the chimpanzees and then also moving on to include other animals like baboons and monkeys that live in the same area.  The book nicely balances offering just enough information to stay fascinating and not overwhelming children with too many small facts.  Instead it reads as a stroll alongside Goodall through her research center.

The photographs by Neugebauer reinforce what Goodall is explaining in words.  Readers see the close family ties, they witness young chimpanzees at play, and there are gorgeous shots of the habitat itself that show how special and important this place is. 

A strong introduction to Goodall’s work, this book is engaging and inspiring.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

creature features

Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Look right into the eyes of 25 animals as they answer a question about why they look the way that they do.  The animals range from sun bears to various birds to giraffes to frogs and fish.  With each turn of the page there is a new animal looking straight at you, ready to explain the feature that is their most unusual.  That explanation is filled with just enough scientific information to be fascinating and to inspire more exploration of the animal.  The paragraphs are short enough to be shared with even quite young children who are fascinated by animals.  This is a great addition to even the most crowded of animal shelves.

Filled with Jenkins’ trademark cut paper art, this is an exquisite look at each animal, some of which you may never have seen straight on from the front like the mole rat or the shoebill stork. The unique point of view makes for unusual images of these animals that make you look at them in a different way.  Wonderfully, Jenkins manages to make each meet your eyes in a distinct way that matches their species.  See how long you can lock gazes with the ferocious ones!

One that will be read again and again by young animal lovers, this book deserves a spot in every public library.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

winter bees

Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

Master nature poet, Sidman, takes readers on a journey through the wonders of nature during winter in this new book.  Each poem focuses on a specific animal, showing the amazing adaptations they have made in order to survive the cold temperatures.  Done in a variety of poetic formats and styles, all of the poems have a lush beauty to them.  Each poem is paired with a paragraph of information that further explains the animal and their lives during the winter months.  The animals include tundra swans, voles, fox, moose, birds, insects and of course bees. 

Sidman’s poems are exceptional.  She clearly has designed them for children, but they stretch vocabulary and concepts.  Even better, they reveal things below the surface, inviting further exploration and investigation of the concepts.  The nonfiction paragraphs are equally welcoming.  They are filled with fascinating facts and will have nature-loving children fully engaged.

Allen’s illustrations are linoleum prints.  They have such depth and texture, with details of feathers and fur clear on the page.  Done in vibrant colors, the illustrations show the color of the world despite its layer of white snow.  Rich and detailed, these illustrations are luminous on the page.

An amazing book of nature poetry, get this into the hands of teachers doing nature units, units on winter, and share the poems merrily with children at any time.  Simply gorgeous.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

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