Friday, February 9, 2024

There's no lack of animal books!

 I am still dredging up books from the bottom of my book basket! Here are two wonderful picture books about animals that were published last year.

theme: animals, ecology, cumulative story

Kind, A call to care for every creature
By Jess McGeachin
32 pages; ages 3-7
Kane Miller EDC Publishing, 2023

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, given the title, “Kind.” And what did “a call to care” mean? I almost didn’t pick it for review, but I’m glad I did – what a remarkable book. Here’s the first few lines:

In this book you’ll find
Many kinds of things
Some have slippery scales
Some have feathered wings

But kind is more than type
Kind is how to care
For creatures that you meet
And places that we share

On each spread, illustrations depict the diversity of creatures in a group: butterflies, spiders, snakes, penguins. Short verses remind us to be kind to these animals, and at the end remind us to care for our planet and ourselves. 

What I like about this book: What a great resource for exploring similarities and differences within a type of animals. Take butterflies for example. Some are large, with thick bodies while others are tiny. And who knew that there are so many different kinds of frogs! In addition to appreciating the biodiversity of life around us, this book shares a great SEL message. It reminds us to treat those that live around us –  no matter how they look or sound, no matter how many legs or wings they have – with kindness. And it does all of that that using lovely, lyrical language.

Creep, Leap, Crunch! A Food Chain Story      
by Jody Jensen Shaffer; illus. by Christopher Silas Neal 
48 pages; ages 4-8
‎Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2023

There was a blue sky with a bright shining sun, a glorious, life-giving, fiery sun. The day had begun.

We see trees, and plants, and there – right there – is a cricket nibbling sweet grass. A mouse sees the cricket and pounces, because nothing tastes better for breakfast than a crunchy cricket. A milk snake swallows the mouse that gobbled the cricket that nibbled the grass… you can see how this is going, right?

What I like about this book: I like the cumulative structure for a food chain story. I also like that in this story, there’s not a 100-percent chance of catching the food you pounce on. The cricket is too fast for the mouse that, in turn, evades the snake, and so on. Truth is, hunting is hard and sometimes the hunter misses its prey. There is also back matter – an illustrated glossary explaining what a food chain is, more about the setting of this tale (a temperate deciduous forest), and a bit about each of the animals featured.

One more thing I like about this book is … what it’s wearing underneath the dust jacket. The case cover for most of the books on my shelves wears the same illustration as the dust jacket. But every now and then I peek under the jacket and find a surprise. You can find out more about book “undies” here – and they even give out awards

Beyond the Books:

Get to know the biodiversity in your neighborhood. How many kinds of frogs live around you? What about birds and butterflies? How about trees? Maybe draw a picture of all of the different kinds you see.

What can you do to be kind to the environment where you live?

What sort of food chains might you find in your area? Look for animals that eat plants, and find out what eats them. See if you can create a chain of hungry animals that live around you.

Today we’re joining Perfect Picture Book Friday. It’s a wonderful gathering where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publisher (KIND) and Blue Slip Media (CREEP, LEAP, CRUNCH).

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