Friday, July 28, 2023

Curious and Amazing Critters

 Nothing’s cuter than a basket full of kittens – unless it’s a basket filled with books about curious and amazing critters! So this week I pulled out a handful of the animal books languishing in my book basket to share.

Theme: animals, adaptations, science

Not A Monster 
by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez; illus. by Laura González 
32 pages; ages 3-7
‎Charlesbridge, 2023

In the murky waters of a canal, that was at the edge of a ciudad that was once a great empire, sits an egg.

Not an ordinary egg, but a rare egg. The egg of a “water monster” – which, it turns out, is not a monster at all! Sure, with it’s frilly gills and long webbed fingers and toes, it looks like a monster. But it is an axolotl (and thank goodness the author includes a pronunciation guide in her back matter: ak-suh-LAHT-ul if you’re wondering). And this book explores what this marvelous Not-a-Monster creature is, the Aztec origin myth, and how pollution is affecting its habitat.  This poetic book, infused with Spanish words and joyful illustrations will make you fall in love with these smiley-faced salamanders! If I rated books, I’d give this one 6 out of 6 feathery gills.

Line Up!: Animals in Remarkable Rows 
by Susan Stockdale 
32 pages; ages 2-5
‎Peachtree, 2023

Have you ever been asked to line up in a row?

If so, you’re not the only one. Lots of animals do this when they’re on the go. In this book, Susan Stockdale shows how elephants and wolves, shrews and spiny lobsters form up their lines before heading off on a jaunt. Sometimes the line is to keep everyone on the right path. But in the case of hermit crabs, it’s the most effective way to trade shells. Did you know they line up according to size to do their shell swaps? And of course we all have seen lines of ants! (I have a few right now heading to a droplet of maple syrup) Fun rhymes and Susan’s colorful art, plus back matter explaining more about each creature, make this a great read aloud.

Hidden Creature Features 
by Jane Park 
32 pages; 5-9 years
Millbrook Press, 2023

Do you see our adaptations – a tail, a claw, a horn, or beak?

Some adaptations are easy to spot, such as bright colors to warn off predators. Others are not as obvious, and require a closer look. Take, for example, a penguin’s textured tongue. Bristles on the tongue help the penguin hold onto those slippery, silvery fish. This book shows the hidden adaptations of tree frogs, pangolins, owls, and more. What I like are the photos and the invitation to turn the page to discover the creature’s special adaptation.

Fox Explores the Night (A First Science Storybook)
by Martin Jenkins; illus. by Richard Smythe 
32 pages; ages 2-5
‎Candlewick, 2022

Fox wakes up in her dark, cozy den. She’s hungry!

This is a cute story about a hungry fox living in an urban area. She checks out the usual places to find food, and eventually snags a snack. It is also a book about light, and light sources: the sun, moon, stars, streetlights – even flashlights. There’s a lot to explore in the illustrations, and an activity at the back about light and shadows. While the book emphasizes light, a reader can bring up the idea of wild animals living all around us. Part of the First Science Storybook series (there are 9 others in the series). 

Beyond the Books:

Find out more about axolotls at the San Diego Zoo website. Then use the search box to find out information about some of the other animals mentioned in the books: elephant, penguin, pangolin, fox… check out the website here.

Follow an Ant Line. Next time you see a line of ants marching off to work, follow them and see where they are going. If they are coming in through your kitchen window (for example) you can follow them to see where their home is. How far do they wander? What are they carrying? Do they talk with their sisters? 

If you had a special adaptation, what would it be? Would it be something to help you climb a tree? Run faster? Jump higher? See in low light or hear better? Draw a picture/write about your adaptation.

We’ll join Perfect Picture Book Friday once they resume. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.
Archimedes is taking a break from book reviews for a couple weeks ~ but drop by on Wednesdays for some Backyard Science.

1 comment:

  1. Great collection of books, Sue. I have to find Not a Monster (love feathers on the letters in the title). Ireally liked your activities, too. Thanks for featuring these books!