Friday, January 25, 2019

Animal Books!

Animal books are spilling out of my reading basket. After all, who doesn't like to read about animals? And the stranger, the better - right?

themes: animals, nonfiction, families

Weird Animals 
by Mary Kay Carson  
32 pages; ages 6 - 10 
Sterling Children’s Books, 2019

Slime-oozing slugs, red-lipped fish, spine-covered bugs, and tube-nosed bats. Weird animals are an awesome sight.

OK, I'm going to admit right here that I read this book because of its cover. I mean, look at those fish-lips! If you're looking for a weird animal, the red-lipped batfish has to be right up there in the top ten. 

But... why are its lips so red? Do they help it find a mate? Scare off predators? 

What I like about this book: Mary Kay Carson answers these and other questions about why animals have weird adaptations. For example, the Spiny Devil Katydid is covered with thorny-looking spines that make it hard for bats to swallow. The fluffy pink fairy armadillo is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Instead of a tail it's got a kickstand to prop it up so it can fling dirt while digging.

I like the way the pages are laid out. 
Three color-coded words in the introductory sentence at the top correspond with color-coded text explaining why those adaptations work for each animal. Plus large photos of the critters. Plus there's back matter: a glossary of "weird words" and an index. And did I mention the end pages? Large portraits of some of the weirdest in the crew. Totally fun and I learned a lot, too.

Saving Fiona: The Story of the World’s Most Famous Baby Hippo 
by Thane Maynard 
48 pages; ages 4 - 7 
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018

This is Fiona. She is a baby hippopotamus, but not just any baby hippopotamus. 

Fiona (yes, named after the lovely green Fiona of Shrek fame) is the first premature hippo to be raised by humans. This book celebrates her story - and that of the caring humans who helped her.

What I like about this book: Thane Maynard is the director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, so he writes with the authority of having been there. The zoo also provided the photos, so we get real behind-the-scenes glimpses of what it's like to raise a baby hippo. Fiona had parents, but she was born too early and needed additional help to survive. The team who cared for her created opportunities for Fiona to begin bonding with her parents when it was safe for her to do so. And they remained friends with Fiona, playing games and posting lots and lots of photos on social media.

Beyond the Books:

What is the weirdest animal you have ever seen? Draw a picture to show what it looks like,  and write down where you saw it.

Find out more about the red-lipped batfish here.

Fiona is famous and even has a fan club. Check out this video, and her Facebook page.

Today we're joining other book bloggers over at STEM Friday, where you can discover other cool STEM books. And we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website . Review copies provided by the publishers.


  1. Great reviews. I love Fiona. And that face on the "Weird Creatures" - hysterically revolting. Looks like it got into Mom's lipstick! :-)

  2. Ha! I would have grabbed up Weird Animals for the very same reason. Thanks for the review.

    1. We're told not to judge a book by its cover - and yet so often I do.