Friday, August 3, 2018

Tongues, Ears, and Armor: Animal Adaptations

 Animals are amazingly adapted to live in different habitats. Fish use fins and tails to move, birds fly, and cats pounce and bound on four feet. Here are three books that take a closer look at animal adaptations.

Terrific Tongues
by Marie Gianferrari; illus. by Jia Liu
32 pages; ages 4-8
Boyds Mills Press, 2018

You use your tongue for a lot of things: licking ice cream cones, tasting food, and helping shape the words you speak. 

But can you use your tongue like a straw? Moths do. They have long, tubelike tongues that roll up like garden hoses! Moths use their tongues to reach down into tubular flowers to sip nectar - I've watched them do this in my garden!

Some animals have tongues like swords, or windshield wipers.

What I like about this book: On one page, Marie sets up a situation. For example, "If you had a tongue like a washcloth, you might be a...." Turn the page and you discover what sort of creature has such a strange and useful tongue. I'm pretty sure our tongues seem strange to moths. Or frogs.

I love the bright, playful illustrations. I also like the back matter: one spread provides lists of things tongues do, and another tells more information about each of the animal tongues featured in the book, from forked snake tongues to radulas.

Animal Armor (Readers level 1)
by Laura Marsh
32 pages; ages 4-6
National Geographic Children's Books, 2018

OK, I'll admit that I was drawn to this book by the cover. Who can't love a pangolin? It is a mammal with scales! The scales are hard, made out of the same stuff as your fingernails, and provide protection when the pangolin rolls into a ball. But it's not the only mammal to use armor for protection. Porcupines have sharp spines called quills. Other animals wear armor too: snails have shells, reptiles have tough, scaly skin, beetles have hard-shell tops, and you never want to step on a sea urchin!

I love the photos and small text-boxes scattered through the pages. There's a fun spread of cool facts, and a pictorial glossary at the back.

Animal Ears
by Mary Holland
32 pages; ages 4-9
Arbordale, 2018

Ears are pretty important for an animal's survival. Hearing things provides information an animal needs to locate food, avoid predators, find a mate, or connect with family. And ears come in all kinds of shapes. Frogs have ears like big round drums. Rabbit ears can move in different directions to pick up sounds.

Through text and photos, Mary shows animal ears and how they work. 

What I like about this book, besides the wonderful photos, is the  back matter. There's an ear matching game, more information on how ears hear, and deeper insights into things ears are used for (not just hearing!).

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundupOn any other Friday we'd be joining others over at Perfect Picture Book Friday, but it's summer vacation. PPBF will resume in September, but you can always head over to Susanna Hill's ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies from publishers.


  1. Oh my goodness! I can't believe that we both chose the same book to share on STEM Friday! :D

    1. I guess we both know a good book when we see one!

  2. I am in awe of people who think of things like writing a book about tongues. I always enjoy the books you choose for your posts. Thanks!

    1. I know! Feet, ears, tongues.... so many cool things to write about.

  3. Thank you so much, Sue!! It's also fun to see Terrific Tongues here with Mary Holland's book--I follow her Naturally Curious blog :).

    1. I learn so much from Mary. And you - tongues! Who woulda thought! Thanks for dropping by.