Friday, September 15, 2017

Can an Aardvark Bark?

Can an Aardvark Bark?
by Melissa Stewart; illustrated by Steve Jenkins
32 pages; ages 2-8
Beach Lane Books, 2017

themes: animals, nonfiction, sounds 

Can an aarvark bark?
No, but it can grunt.
Lots of other animals grunt too.

This is such a fun book, filled with barks, squeals, grunts, roars, and whines. Also bellows, growls, and laughs. Animals, it turns out, make all kinds of sounds. For all kinds of reasons - and Melissa gives us an inside look at what those sounds mean.

What I like LOVE about this book: The sounds! If you're reading it out loud, expect your listeners to bellow, roar, grunt, and bark along with the animals. Every page if filled with SOUND - and plenty of examples of animals that make those sounds. Did you know that frogs bark and rats chortle? OK, I've heard frogs bark and quack, but laughing? I haven't heard wild things laugh, chortle, or giggle with glee. But they do and Melissa gives us the facts.

The illustrations! Steve Jenkins does such spectacular work, and it's always fun to open up a new book filled with his cut-and-torn-paper artwork.

The structure! This is subtle and it took me a couple pages to realize what was going on - but then I discovered a pattern to the questions and the answers.I don't want to spoil the fun of discovering it yourself.

The best thing? Readers learn that animals use a diverse array of sounds to communicate their thoughts and feelings. Just like people do. This is the perfect book to share with a kid who dreams of becoming a translator for their dog, cat, snake, goldfish, or pet rock. OK, maybe not the rock...

Beyond the Book:
Learn to speak a foreign language: animal. Listen to the sounds an animal makes, and imitate them. If you don't have an animal living in your home, find a place where you can listen to animals: a pet shop, zoo, or even sitting on a park bench listening to - and watching - squirrels and birds. Write down the different sounds your animal makes.

What does your pet say? Hang out with an animal long enough, and you begin to understand their language. Sometimes it's sound; sometimes it's posture; sometimes it's a combination. Can you write a dictionary to explain what your animals mean when they bark, growl, purr, or whine?

Go on a listening walk. Early mornings or evenings are good times to listen to animals out and about. What do you hear? Frogs? Geese and ducks talking to each other as they migrate? Insects?

Learn to speak bird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology has a site dedicated to songs and calls. 

On Monday, head over to the GROG Blog for an interview with Melissa. She'll talk about her journey from idea to book (and how long it took!) and a few other things.

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup. Drop by STEM Friday blog for more science books and resources. We're also joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books Review copy from the publishers.


  1. This book might be intended for children, but I have a feeling grownups will learn new things about animals, too. Thanks for this review, I'm adding it to my library list right away.

  2. I agree with Leslie. I learned something new (frogs bark?!) from reading your review. This PB, filled with fun animal noises, sounds like a perfect read-aloud.

  3. I adore Melissa Sweet and can not wait to read this book. Thanks Sue for highlighting it.

  4. So much fun. The books this week are all super super inventive.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned a lot!

  6. This will be a winner with kids and parents. Kids love books with sounds. Very entertaining! Like your activities, especially learning to speak bird.