Friday, October 19, 2018

Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers

Today's books celebrate the small, the slow, and the really, really stinky!
Themes: animals, adaptation, nonfiction

Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs
by Melissa Stewart; illus. by Stephanie Laberis
32 pages; ages 4-8
Peachtree Publishers, 2018

Everyone loves elephants. They're so big and strong. Everyone respects cheetahs. They're so fast and fierce. 

But this book isn't about those guys. It's about animals that people tend to overlook. The tiny animals. The slo-o-o-ow ones. The stinky critters we'd rather not get too close to.

What I like about this book: The language is fun: "puny peewees"! Lively verbs like skedaddle and skitter. I like that some of the animals featured are clumsy - like the western fence lizard that sometimes falls off a tree branch. The animals too tiny to capture for supper. And that characteristics we might think of as weaknesses are actually adaptations for survival.

I also like the illustrations - the animals retain their factual appearances but Stephanie Laberis endows them with expressive faces. And there's back matter - a spread with more information about each animal.

Stinkiest! 20 Smelly Animals (Extreme Animals series)
by Steve Jenkins
40 pages; ages 6-9
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018

Whew! Some animals produce strong smells...

 They put stinky liquid on rocks or branches to mark their territories. They use odors to defend themselves. And some are smellier than a skunk!

What I like about this book: We get to meet twenty different animals that embrace bad odor, from stink bombs to smelly threads to yukky slime and smelly bird farts. Each page introduces one or two stinky critters and shows where in the world they live.

Back matter includes a glossary and bibliography.

Beyond the Books:

Make a list of the animals (pets included) that live in your neighborhood, local parks, or city zoo. What are the tiniest ones you've seen? Which are the slowest movers? Are any of them stinky?

Could any of the underdog adaptations (smell, slowness, small size) be useful to a superhero? Create a superhero with an unexpected superpower and tell how they use it.

Check out some of the activities in the teacher's guide - and the map - at the Peachtree website.

Today we're joining the STEM Friday roundup - and we're also joining other reviewers 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 copies from the publishers.


  1. Animals underdogs is a great concept for a nonfiction PB! I love the idea of creating a superhero using one of the undergo adaptation; unexpected superpowers are so fun and give the kids the sense that they too can be superheroes.

  2. It's so refreshing to put some under-appreciated animals into the limelight, something it looks like both of these books do well. So it follows, doesn't it, that kids can be appreciated for a variety of qualities, not just those that everyone deems "cool." It's all in how we look at things. Going to put these two on my TBR pile.

  3. I'm pretty sure the primary set would LOVE this book! I'm definitely intrigued :)

  4. Love the pairing of these two books. I need to go find Steve Jenkins' book. Thanks for another great one for my TBR pile. :-)

  5. These both look really cute. I will have to check them both out. Thanks for the reviews.

  6. They look/sound like fun books!

  7. What great choices. They are full of fun information and are humorous! Love the covers!