Books by Jim Arnosky

LOOK AT ME! by Jim Arnosky
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

"Another splendid addition to a shelf filled with interesting invitations to the wonders of nature. (author's note, additional reading) (Informational picture book. 6-10)"
Bold markings and showy displays make some animals stand out. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

"Read aloud or alone, this will heighten anyone's appreciation for 'Nature…the ultimate artist.' (author's note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 4-10)"
Animals' shapes, coloring, and behaviors allow them to conceal and reveal themselves. Read full book review >
FROZEN WILD by Jim Arnosky
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"A welcome addition to the eye-catching series that began with Wild Tracks (2008). (suggested reading) (Informational picture book. 6-10)"
Continuing his exploration of the world around us, a wildlife artist takes readers to icy polar habitats far from his Vermont home. Read full book review >
TOOTH & CLAW by Jim Arnosky
Released: April 1, 2014

"Smartly focused on characteristics that will most interest young animal admirers, this is an attractive addition to a popular series. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 6-10)"
Powerful acrylic paintings and detailed pencil sketches introduce awe-inspiring predators whose jaws and claws support their carnivorous diets. Read full book review >
LITTLE BURRO by Jim Arnosky
Released: Sept. 12, 2013

"A characteristically empathetic and appealing nature story from the master of the form. (author's note) (Picture book.3-5)"
Beautifully written, and illustrated in warm pastel tones, this gentle story of a little burro's discovery of the pleasures of a Southwestern desert lake is well-suited to preschool children, who will identify with the burro's adventure. Read full book review >
Released: May 15, 2012

"Renewed public interest in a 'green' world makes this a timely and welcome return for Crinkleroot. (Informational picture book. 5-10)"
Forest-dweller Crinkleroot reappears to lead 21st-century readers outdoors, urging them to appreciate and give back to nature. Read full book review >
Released: April 3, 2012

"This is another splendid invitation to children to explore the natural world. (Informational picture book. 6-10)"
Larger-than-life-size paintings, intricate drawings and a chatty, informative text combine to introduce the world of insects and spiders, "the largest biomass on Earth." Read full book review >
Released: July 12, 2011

"This personal look at a popular subject is sure to please. (Informational picture book. 7-10)"
Stating that "[t]oday's mystery could be tomorrow's science," a veteran wildlife observer ponders the existence of such legendary creatures as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster. Read full book review >
Released: May 12, 2011

With a gentle rhythm, unforced rhymes and near rhymes and perfect pacing, this bedtime story encourages children to think, dream and wonder about the lives of animals in the wild. Arnosky takes his readers and listeners through a day. Beginning with the moment of waking up, he matches the child's possible activities to those of an animal. Brushing teeth? "A toothy shark / is circling a reef." Drinking water from a fountain? "Someplace in the forest / a deer drinks from a pool." Eating your peas? An owl, a beaver, a rattlesnake and a blue jay are eating too. From raccoons that live in his woodshed to a black bear with cinnamon cubs photographed by a friend in Yellowstone and lions from his dreams, this prolific author-illustrator draws on long experience of nature-watching, drawing, painting and imagining to produce beautiful double-page spreads showing animals in their natural habitats. A band of bighorn sheep walks a narrow mountain trail. A finback whale surfaces, not far from seals on rocks off the Maine coast. A semi-palmated plover perches on an alligator's gaping jaw. While the focus animal is clear from the lines on the page, readers with some knowledge will be able to identify other species in these realistic images. In an afterword, Arnosky explains his connection to each animal. Children lucky enough to encounter this book will feel connected, too. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
THUNDER BIRDS by Jim Arnosky
Released: May 1, 2011

A baleful osprey holding a rainbow trout in its talons glares at readers from the cover of this elegant introduction to predator birds, Arnosky's latest exploration of the natural world. With oversized pages and four fold-outs showing accurately depicted, sometimes life-size images, the artist and famed wildlife watcher introduces eagles, hawks, vultures, owls, herons and pelicans. He begins, appropriately, with a bald eagle, shown at half its actual size, and a meticulous, full-sized drawing of an eagle foot. Inside the first gate-fold, the osprey, wing outstretched, shares space with comparable heads and silhouettes—a golden eagle, red-tailed hawk and peregrine falcon. With only a few paragraphs of text for each bird family and plenty of extended captions, the book economically yet thoroughly covers a great deal. Full-bleed paintings in acrylic and white chalk pencil include many close-ups, showing heads, eyes and beaks. Sketches show the separated tips of wing feathers and feathered feet that allow owls to fly silently, the heron's forward-facing eyes and the pelican's expanding throat pouch. In an afterword, the author reminds readers that these birds can be seen in American refuges and sanctuaries today and provides a list of some he and his wife have visited in their research. "Nature's flying predators are magnificent creatures," the author writes, and this is a deserved celebration. (bibliography, metric equivalents) (Informational picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2010

For this book-and-CD set, prolific artist and naturalist Arnosky has illustrated Dylan's catchy song about man naming animals—bear, cow, bull, pig, sheep and snake—with pencil-and-acrylic paintings of more than 170 animals in a series of peaceable kingdom images. Each double-page spread includes a number of identifiable animals in an imagined natural setting. An alphabetical list of most animals pictured is provided at the end. There are curious choices: three specific types of monkeys, for instance, but only a generic snake. The cow, bull, pig and sheep of the song have been shown in ancestral forms, an appropriate and evocative choice, though probably unfamiliar to young readers. They may also be frustrated by the lack of a key to the unnumbered pages in the book. Adults who share this with children may want to print out the keys from Arnosky's website, which should be complete by publication. The different illustrations on the dust cover and printed boards require libraries to make a choice. A beautiful concept with gorgeous artwork but flawed design. (Picture book and CD. 3-10)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2010

A pregnant Florida manatee, accidentally injured by a passing motorboat, is rescued and rehabilitated in a tank on land, where she gives birth before both are released back into their canal home. This straightforward account is gently told. No fault is implied; indeed, in an afterword, Arnosky stresses that boaters are usually quite careful, but accidents do happen. His pastel acrylic paintings stretch across the gutters, set off from the text by a wavy ribbon of color implying the separation of the manatee's watery world. On the text side, tiny insets offer other scenes from the manatee's natural environment. A few double-page spreads add emphasis and variety: the drifting wounded manatee, two night views with the baby and, finally, the pair returning to their home, where a new sign says "Slow down! Manatees." Though fiction, the story was inspired by an actual event, and the author's customary attention to environmental detail makes it an excellent companion to his All About Manatees (2007) and A Manatee Morning (2000). (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
I’M A TURKEY! by Jim Arnosky
Released: Sept. 1, 2009

Although not a Thanksgiving book per se, this title is seasonally timed to find its way onto many a display. Following on Gobble It Up: A Fun Song About Eating (2009), Arnosky delivers another picture-book folksong, "sung" to the tune of the classic "Talking Blues" (available via download). The amiable turkey narrator emphasizes turkey communication—"We PUTT and PEEP and SQUAWK and SQUABBLE— / Talking turkey. / Gobble, / Gobble"—along with other turkey facts. The master's sense of humor and fine eye for wildlife detail is evident in every ruffled feather as the birds strut, snooze and even fly (at 50 miles per hour). The information slides down oh-so-easily in this good-natured nature romp. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2009

Snakes, lizards, turtles and crocodilians stare out from the pages of this eye-catching introduction to reptiles. Illustrated with sketches and acrylic paintings—four on foldout pages that allow life-size representation of animal heads—this is the fruit of years of exploration and photography by the veteran naturalist. Each family is introduced with a page of text describing physical characteristics and some distinctive habits. The author distinguishes between land and sea turtles, crocodiles and alligators, and includes a page on the habits of all these cold-blooded animals in winter. Personal experiences enliven the text throughout, and Arnosky ends with a description of looking—in vain—for Burmese pythons in Key Largo, Fla. An inaccurate table of metric equivalents is an unnecessary addition to the backmatter of an otherwise admirable presentation. A richness of reptiles, indeed. (author's note, more reading) (Nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2009

After a wild ride down I-95 with their unpredictably violent father, Sandy and Jack Casperin find themselves in the Florida Keys, far from home. Escaping the man who accidentally killed their younger brother and maybe their mother, the boys, 11 and nine, head for a crocodile swamp, hoping to hide and live off the land. Arnosky's passion for this part of the world is evident, and the mangrove-swamp setting becomes the focus of this survival story. An unlikely situation and minimally developed characters will not keep readers from being caught up in the action as the boys encounter crocodiles, a hammerhead shark and poisonous snakes, as well as less dangerous creatures and a helpful, elderly Cuban fisherman living nearby on a boat. Jack is an enthusiastic nature watcher, full of information that he happily passes on to his older brother, who tells the story, and to readers. Pilot-pen sketches decorate the pages and open each chapter. This sure-to-please adventure for middle-grade readers is a promising new direction for the prolific nature writer. (Fiction. 8-11)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2009

Less well known than their alligator cousins, crocodiles live in the United States too, although not in abundance: Approximately 2,000 have been counted by airplane. In this intriguing new entry in a body of more than 100 books about the natural world, wildlife observer Arnosky describes canoeing with his wife through mangrove swamps in South Florida and seeing 20 crocodiles. Interwoven with the personal narrative is considerable information about these formidable reptiles. Detailed acrylic paintings accompany the text. Individual crocs are shown in context, with the time, weather and tide of each sighting noted. These portraits cross the gutter, separated from a column of text by a mangrove stem. Other illustrations add information, demonstrating the differences between crocodiles and alligators and identifying other inhabitants of this ecosystem. Arnosky ends with a song about his trip—words and music—that can be heard on the accompanying DVD, which also includes videos of the Arnoskys' journeys and the artist at work. Pair this excellent introduction to the species with his new novel, The Pirates of Crocodile Swamp (2009), for a toothy treat. (Informational picture book. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

A pod of dolphins resting on a sandbar finds itself stranded when the tide recedes, until humans in rescue boats come with aid. Appropriately for the intended preschool audience, the narrative focus is on a young dolphin and his mother. Tension builds with the arrival of a school of hungry sharks, but the rescuers take advantage of a nearby lagoon to offer a safe temporary refuge. Arnosky's soft-hued paintings, varied in size and placement on the page, show the animals in their ecological context, with accurate, identifiable birds and shells, and children involved in the rescue. In an explanatory afterword, he terms this quiet story, based on an actual event the naturalist and his wife observed, "an idealized account." Once again, this prolific illustrator, author of more than 100 books, has created an appealing path for children to follow toward a better appreciation of the wonders of the natural world. (Informational picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
GOBBLE IT UP! by Jim Arnosky
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

"You'd gobble them up and they'd taste good" is the repeated line in this jaunty song about animal feeding that invites young children into the natural world. Raccoons, crocodiles, sharks, whales and pandas appear in their natural habitats, chowing down on crawdads, ducklings, fish, squid and bamboo. Arnosky's characteristically detailed watercolors add information; they are accurate as well as appealing. The whale illustrated is a sperm whale, the giant squid's only predator. The shark shares its shallow-water habitat with a pelican, and bats fly where the raccoon hunts by night. A rare lapse into personification that has the crocodile fooling ducklings with a smile can be forgiven in light of the charm of the rhythmic text and easy-to-sing melody for preschool listeners. The real strength of this offering is its clear-eyed look at nature red in tooth and claw; preschoolers who have sent zillions of monkeys into the maw of Mr. Alligator will understand this. A CD with Arnosky playing the guitar and singing his song is part of the package. (Informational picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2008

Part of the launch of Scholastic's republishing of Arnosky's All About...books in paperback, this displays all the trademark characteristics that have made the author such a staple in the nature and animal sections of libraries. The title of both book and series is entirely appropriate, as readers will, in fact, learn all about manatees. From their dimensions and habitat range, to their distant relations and eating habits, this has it all. For instance, a manatee's limbs are more like arms than flippers, and they do not actually sleep. They communicate with high-pitched squeaks and give birth only every two to five years. While they are larger than many aquatic predators, they are not a threat to either humans or other wildlife—but humans, and especially their boat propellers, do threaten the manatees. Wonderfully detailed illustrations include diagrams and comparisons in introducing readers to this gentle giant. A well-researched addition to both libraries and junior naturalists' shelves. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-10)Read full book review >
WILD TRACKS! by Jim Arnosky
Released: April 1, 2008

Both picture book and field guide, Arnosky's 100th book shows how the shape and pattern of animal tracks reveal the identity and activity of the track maker. Clear, accurate drawings of tracks and trails pair with full-page paintings of North American animals from anhinga and white-tailed deer to cottonmouth moccasin and white ibises. He includes both large wild animals—bear and American buffalo—and small creatures whose tracks might be found in a back yard—cats, dogs, rabbits and mice. Four foldout pages show tracks of animal families—deer, other hoofed animals, felines and canines—life-size for easy comparison. A few paragraphs of gentle text introduce each family, pointing out identifying details, comparing them and adding information about the pattern of their tracks. Both attractive and informative, this is a splendid example of Arnosky's skill at making natural history come alive for young readers and listeners as well as their parents. This slim, though oversize, package will spur aspiring nature detectives to do some tracking of their own. (table of contents) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

Encouraging kids to get their hands wet—literally—this new offering from the ever-energetic Arnosky introduces them to the geology and flora and fauna of one of our landscape's more accessible ecosystems, the brook. Accessible they may be, but still full of wonders for children to discover: rocks, insects, wildflowers, fish and other critters. The collegial direct address advises readers not to take chances—"Because any water can be deeper than it looks, even the tiniest brooks should be approached carefully"—while still empowering them to get up close to nature—"You can pick up any nymphs you find. They won't bite." Characteristically delicate watercolors depict sun-dappled brooks, with exquisite details providing close-up views of the tinier brook denizens kids may encounter. Readers will learn about the life cycle of mayflies and caddis flies, get a quick lesson on sketching wildflowers and receive a primer on tracking. With its emphasis on getting out and doing, this is the perfect antidote to "Nature Deficit Disorder" and should help prepare grown-ups and kids alike for their own explorations of local waterways. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2007

One of children's literature's most ardent guides takes readers on a beguiling tour of America's only living coral reef, off the Florida Keys. Arnosky's narrative is disarmingly personal, inviting his audience to join him and his wife on their boat as they explore. The narrative encompasses both the environmental microcosm of the reef and its denizens and the gentle adventure of exploration. Characteristically clear and bright illustrations receive extra glosses where necessary. Images of snappers and a grouper join those of parrotfish, readers are told, so they can see the differences in the fishes' mouths. Political history joins natural history as the Crayfish motors over the wrecks of Spanish galleons, the illustrations imagining what they looked like before treasure-hunters found them. The chatty text includes tips on how to emulate the diving experience and the importance of books to amplify direct observation. The text is a little on the long side, but the engaging enthusiasm of the author, and the bright, sunny illustrations, will keep impatience at bay. When it comes to exploring the natural world, there's no better companion than Arnosky. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 2007

A poetic text and soft acrylics present the various baby animals found in a bayou. Baby alligators "with black and yellow tails / and smiling mouths of sharp white teeth," baby raccoons "with rings around their tails," baby turtles "with shells upon their backs / and strong little legs to carry them" and baby ducks "with webs between their toes" form the progression in this deceptively simple, lovely offering. The text doesn't name the animals at first, allowing children to take their cues from the illustrations and the textual clues, a technique that both encourages readers to interact with the narrative and highlights the lyricism of the language. Visually, the illustrations excel, a filtered green light unifying each scene, perspectives varying in a celebration of the richness of an environment in which the line between air and water seems almost nonexistent. The babies themselves are presented sequentially, each subsequent animal appearing appropriately in context (often as predator and prey) with its preceding one, until cycling back around to the first. No one does this better than Arnosky, and here, he is at his best. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2006

An old buffalo finds himself slowing down, but he still maintains a place within the herd in this gentle nature story. Grandfather Buffalo trails behind as the herd moves on and thus is the only bull present to protect another lagging buffalo, this one a pregnant cow, whose calf also comes under his protection when it is born. Arnosky depicts a gorgeously rolling prairie, the buffalo sharing the page with antelope, rattlesnakes, whooping cranes and regal fritillaries. As in his other picture books, the hazards encountered—separation from the herd, a dust storm—are just scary enough for his audience, and the inevitable reunions are sweetly reassuring. While the attachment between Grandfather Buffalo and the newborn calf may be zoologically suspect, this is unlikely to bother young readers, who will instead find the intergenerational bond pleasingly recognizable. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2005

This companion piece to Following the Coast (2004) takes the author-illustrator and his wife out into the Great American West, photographing and sketching cacti, cowboys, arroyos and wildlife. Arnosky's enthusiasm for his work is clear in both illustration (a sketch, obviously taken from a photograph, of himself with pad and pencil in hand) and text ("The western landscape is so spectacular, your eyes can barely take it in"). Glowing acrylics of said landscape give a sense of the scope of the vistas; insets focus on the wonders within. Soft pencil sketches also share space with the paintings, adding detail (the elements of a Western saddle) or a sense of "you are there" immediacy. As with its predecessor, this work's presentation is much more geared toward a scrapbook-like regional overview than an in-depth examination of any one subject, and as such, it partakes of a disarming informality. The author's regard for his audience comes through clearly in a concluding note that informs readers of the media used and encourages them to "copy all the illustrations using [their] own favorite medium." (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 2005

Veteran wildlife-watcher Arnosky turns his attention to the desert biome in this gentle account of the disruption of the peaceful world of Cactus Canyon by the visit of a pack of four young coyotes. Like a gang of small boys, they interrupt the ordinary activities of the cottontail rabbit, cactus wren, Gambel's quail, and antelope squirrel, but are scared away by a passing rattlesnake and peace is restored. The simple story is told with lively verbs and descriptive detail; the large clear illustrations make it an ideal read-aloud. In the double-spread acrylic paintings, pinks and greens of the landscape are highlighted with the yellow sun; the plants and animals of the canyon scene are accurately illustrated and easy to identify. Even in silhouette, these animals are full of life. Once again Arnosky's appealing brand of nature lesson will foster an appreciation of the natural world in any child. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2004

"Walk the length of a beach one way. Then turn and walk back, looking down at the very same spots. The view from the opposite direction always reveals something that you missed before." This genial introduction to beachcombing, the fruit of "research" along more than two dozen Atlantic and Gulf Coast beaches, focuses on the small, common treasures to be found or seen, from sand dollars to mermaid's purses, drifting coconuts to fossilized shark teeth. Wear a hat and sunblock, Arnosky advises, carry a bucket, don't touch stranded jellyfish, and leave living creatures as you find them—all savvy tips for a safe, satisfying outing, even for younger children. For older ones, the author's clear, simple illustrations will help to identify 12 kinds of crabs, 26 kinds of shells, seven birds, and a variety of miscellaneous wrack. An enticing read before any trip beachward, from a veteran naturalist. (author's note, bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2004

Follow the author and his wife on their annual drive from Florida to Delaware as they travel from salt marsh to salt marsh, observing and sketching the wildlife therein. Pen-and-ink drawings share space with watercolors, pleasingly overlaying one another on the page; the borders of the full-color illustrations form the contours of the part of the coast under discussion. The text offers observations on the nature of a salt marsh, discusses the different places to spot wildlife (look over the tops of the grasses, examine the blades of grass, and focus on the ground), and offers appreciations of the ways human coastal dwellers live and work among the animals. It's a more personal work than most of Arnosky's oeuvre, taking on more of the characteristic of a living-room slide show than a traditional informational book. As such, it will disappoint readers in search of hard facts about salt marshes, but those who want to spend some time on the road with one of children's literature's most enthusiastic observers of nature will be rewarded. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2003

Arnosky turns his usual artistry and care to a subject sure to find a ready audience. Opening with a series of questions about sharks, he proceeds to answer them with a clear text and vivid, well-scaled illustrations (the gaping mouth of a 10-foot tiger shark appears life-size, split over two double-page spreads). Basic information, such as the different sorts of shark, how sharks sense their prey, and the ever-fascinating duplicate rows of teeth, is presented lucidly. Expatiating and defining text can be found located next to the appropriate parts of the illustrations, as with an extra tidbit about shark skin that appears with a magnified detail of it. It would be an altogether respectful and refreshingly unsensational presentation except for the information that deals with shark attacks. Explaining that sharks can swim extraordinarily close to shore, the text marvels that "shark attacks on people are extremely rare"—without indicating exactly how rare. In a later discussion of shark food, people are listed along with baby whales and swimming dogs—once again, with no accompanying mention of how unlikely one is to become shark supper. Regrettable. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2003

A young armadillo learns to value his neighbors in this slight tale. Armadillo has always trusted in the orange by his burrow to mark his home, rushing impatiently past the other denizens of his woods. But when the orange rolls away, he realizes that he can find his way home by locating the animals that live around him. Arnosky's signature watercolors glow a bright green and invest his homely protagonist with a remarkable amount of character. However appealing the illustrations, though, they don't make much sense of the story: if Armadillo never noticed his neighbors before, how can he orient by them now, in his hour of need? The lesson contained within is a comforting one for young children, but the realities of the natural world, usually Arnosky's strong point, are here regrettably subverted to that lesson. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
ONE WHOLE DAY by Jim Arnosky
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

The wild ponies of Assateague Island capture the imagination of nature artist Arnosky (Turtle in the Sea, p. 948, etc.), who describes these beautiful creatures from sunrise to sunset using handsome double-paged acrylic paintings and a nearly rhyming text. Though rhymes are sometimes near misses (sea and breeze) and verses are rather trite: "On Assateague Island / out in the sea, / a mare tends her foal / in the shade of a tree," the overall effect of the peaceful text and the softly painted illustrations of multi-colored horses and foals "having some wild pony fun" will appeal to young listeners. It might even prove useful as a goodnight story. Arnosky continues to experiment with his art and to perfect his craft; he really is unmatched in his approach to sharing nature with young children. His love and appreciation of the natural world are very evident in this title; he just needs someone to help him with his words. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
TURTLE IN THE SEA by Jim Arnosky
Released: July 1, 2002

Another nature lesson and environmental message from a specialist in translating the wonders of the natural world into terms children can understand. Arnosky (Field Trips, p. 405, etc.) gives the reader a peek into the life of a female sea turtle. As she comes to shore to lay her eggs, the scars we see on her shell serve as a segue for looking into her past. They tell the story of the many disasters, both natural and manmade, that she has encountered. A narrow escape from a shark resulted in one mark, while the crack in her shell was the consequence of a run-in with a motorboat. The scrapes and chips happened when the raging swirls of a waterspout caught her and tossed her about, finally landing her on the beach. Her final mishap left her unmarked, but wiser—as she was chasing some fish to eat, she became tangled in a fisherman's net. Luckily, the man collected his fish, and set her free. Throughout it all, her survival instinct was strong. She had to survive for her children—the eggs she now lays, covers with sand, and leaves. The reader will see the hatchlings crawl to the sea, but the mother will not: "That is the turtle way." Throughout, readers will marvel over Arnosky's characteristic watercolor paintings, which truly bring nature to life. The soft blues, greens, and yellows of the water bring the reader right into the sea with the turtle. Especially captivating are his depictions of the mangrove cove where the turtle recuperates, and the adorable hatchlings as they scurry to the sea. Arnosky's gentle combination of lesson and beautiful artwork will serve to capture the nature-lover in every child. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2002

Each chapter of this field guide focuses on one wildlife field trip in which the reader can discover, investigate, identify, and learn about the various plants and animals that live in the wild. The text is filled with Arnosky's (All About Frogs, p. 42, etc.) characteristically detailed pencil sketches, which will help readers in identifying the various flora and fauna. In fact, the drawings and captions give information that adds to the reader's understanding of the topic. They also serve as an example for children to use in setting up their own wildlife field notebook. Any chapter can stand alone, complete with its own safety precautions and identification charts. In the first, readers are introduced to the various insects and arachnids that fill the world, and are given hints for finding, viewing, and identifying bugs. Animal Tracking introduces the wealth of information that can be learned about an animal from just one set of tracks. Chapter three teaches readers about bird-watching, and is especially good at helping children learn the identifying marks that can distinguish one bird from another. Lastly, readers are taught about the many and varied plants and animals that can be found along the edges of water—salt or fresh. Throughout, the author does a good job of introducing and defining new terms to young readers. His chapters are short, easy to understand, and filled with illustrations. While most of the text relates to the bolded title that precedes it, there are times that paragraphs seem out of place or disjointed. In addition, many young readers may not appreciate the author's introductory section to each chapter, as this details his own education and experience with the topic. Still, this is an excellent resource for anyone who wishes to know more about the great outdoors, and especially for anyone who is a budding nature artist—and who better than Arnosky to serve as an example? (Nonfiction. 7-12)Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 2001

A young raccoon goes for an unexpected solo trip through a swamp. More interested in climbing into an abandoned boat than in digging for crawfish with his mother and siblings, the youngster is nevertheless distressed when his family's efforts dislodge the mud holding the boat, sending him downstream. Arnosky (Wild and Swampy, 2000, etc.) uses a watercolor palette dominated by swampy greens to create a lush, self-contained world in which the surface of the water blends imperceptibly into the general background. The raccoon's trip takes him—and young readers—past a microcosm of swamp wildlife both malignant and benign, including snakes, an alligator, a family of mergansers, and a bevy of wading birds, as all the while the raccoon's family paces his progress from the shore. The all-encompassing green and the characteristically quiet, present-tense text effectively recreate the muffled, otherworldly atmosphere of a swamp. At the end, a relieved raccoon is reunited with his family, none the worse for his adventure. The events that lead to raccoon's voyage seem somewhat contrived and at times his expression is just a tiny bit too anthropomorphic, but these are only little quibbles with a story that will resonate with young children still exploring their own boundaries while at the same time introducing them painlessly to an environment likely as unfamiliar as the North Pole. (Picture book. 2-6)Read full book review >
ALL ABOUT FROGS by Jim Arnosky
Released: March 1, 2001

Usually a naturalist among naturalists, Arnosky (One Whole Day: Wolves, not reviewed, etc.) stumbles with this somewhat careless primer. Though in his green-tinged pictures he depicts a range of North American and tropical frogs, often life-sized, as well as their prey, predators, and stages of development, otherwise-anatomically-exact amphibians sport nether regions that look airbrushed, and every creature is labeled until the "predators" page—on which the turtle is represented only by a hard-to-recognize head. Furthermore, to state that "All amphibians are cold-blooded. They warm up in the sun and cool off in the shade" isn't particularly enlightening, and there are neither pronunciation guides for the scientific terms, nor any leads to sources of further information. Budding biologists will take a longer leap with Judy Hawes's new edition of Why Frogs Are Wet (2000). (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-7)Read full book review >
WILD AND SWAMPY by Jim Arnosky
Released: Oct. 31, 2000

"Every mammal sighting in a swamp is a surprise," notes Arnosky as he takes the reader and viewer exploring. The well-known science author/illustrator once again proves himself a helpful wildlife guide. In similar adventures, with the help of his alter ego, Crinkleroot, Arnosky has introduced birds, mammals, trees, butterflies, snakes, and a host of other wildlife. Here, he combines pen-and-ink sketches from his travel journal, and more elaborate full-color acrylic paintings to show the reader and viewer the swamp as he sees it. The brief text boxes embedded in the paintings engage the reader and captures the moment, pointing out how a snake bird swims underwater to spear fish, or how the mangrove crab climbs high into the mangrove tree to escape predators. The paintings, often with unusual perspectives, invite the viewer to experience the swamp along with the artist. For example, one double-page layout presents on the center fold the smooth gray trunk of an enormous tree, rising from the mirrored surface of the swamp, from one side pokes the head of a white heron, the rest of the bird is hidden from view except for one stilt-like brown leg and a fringe of white tail feathers. Another painting has the viewer eyeball to eyeball with a huge gray-green alligator. His palette includes some paintings set in the murky twilight; others capture an unreal orchid-pink dusk, or an orange-gold sunset, with wildlife a near black shadow against the orange sky and water. A first look at an unusual habitat and some of its inhabitants. (Nonfiction. 6-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2000

Dreamy green and gold acrylic wash illustrations celebrate a gentle manatee and her baby swimming in the waters of Crystal River, Florida. Arnosky (Rattlesnake Dance, p. 790, etc.) bathes the book in a golden glow, floating the green verses on a soft, gold ground and framing underwater scenes of the manatee with a broad band of the same yellow. Throughout, the illustrations demonstrate the author's affection for the ungainly, endangered mammals that swim in Florida waterways, eating the water hyacinth. Though the verses are clumsy, and the rhymes frequently miss, the lullaby has enormous warmth and appeal. "Manatee baby, / manatee mom, / swimming in the shady pool, / swimming in the sun." Young listeners will enjoy hearing the verses read aloud, and older readers may be moved to investigate the manatee Web site and "Adopt-a-manatee" program discussed on the back cover. Charming. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: June 1, 2000

The author of All About Rattlesnakes (not reviewed) proves a better naturalist than songsmith here, preceding an eerie lyric about a cavern full of rattlers in a trance, swaying in unison with a musical arrangement (done by Christopher Drobny) that features a spoken portion, a bewildering array of repeat signs, and notation for two dances supposedly on "page 32"—though the book's pages are unnumbered, and there is but one dance described on the last page. With fitful rhyming and variable line lengths, the text does not read smoothly, and the pale watercolors of freely drawn, happy-looking snakes with fixed smiles and equally fixed eyes are likely to evoke shivers rather than the suggested snaky undulations. This reptilian jamboree just doesn't have the finger-snapping, hip-swaying rhythm of Libba Moore Gray's Small Green Snake (not reviewed) or Gail Jorgensen's Crocodile Rock (not reviewed). (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
ARNOSKY'S ARK by Jim Arnosky
Released: Sept. 1, 1999

Arnosky (Watching Desert Wildlife, 1998, etc.) welcomes the new millennium with this abbreviated gallery of favorite animals, matched to a plea for conservation. Most of his 13 subjects are, or were, hunted into rarity: bison and puma are making comebacks; populations of beavers, alligators and white-tailed deer have recovered; American crocodiles and mountain gorillas are still at risk. Lapidary, full-bleed paintings depict the animals in natural settings, with inset blocks of text; Arnosky closes by inviting readers to choose inhabitants for their own personal "Arks" as a means of creating and promoting concern for wildlife. Children will respond to this visually and verbally eloquent showcase. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9) Read full book review >
Released: March 22, 1999

Combining the simplicity of Harold and the Purple Crayon with the palette of Winnie the Pooh, Arnosky (Watching Desert Wildlife, 1998, etc.) cleverly demonstrates a mouse's creativity in constructing the letters of the alphabet out of sticks. Mouse ponders, pushes and pulls, tugs and tweaks, coaxing sticks into one of the bends of a B or the curve of a C. Mishaps include a bump on the head after pinging off the letter G; mistakes result in the letter U, then V, as Mouse is resourcefully rescued from a fall. Those accustomed to Arnosky's precise nature drawings won't miss the tiny details here, conveyed with a minimum of strokes and a great deal of ingenuity. Wee wit is plentiful in this pint-sized pleaser and its companion, Mouse Numbers (0-395- 55006-8). (Picture book. 1-3) Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1998

In his 12th appearance, Crinkleroot, the Santa Claus of the natural world, takes Walking Stick on a hike from the woods down to the lake to search for Sassafrass, a small orange snake he's befriended. Crinkleroot reads signs, discovers tracks, and identifies animals along the way, leading readers to an old fishing shack for a look at wrens and birdhouses, through a marshy wood where muskrats swim and orioles weave nests, past a great blue heron, and under some lily pads. At Crinkle Cove, Sassafrass is discovered napping in a rowboat. The jolly woodsman is forever on the lookout, his eyes open in every habitat, and young readers who have identified backyard birds and tracked wildlife alongside Crinkleroot before will be glad he's back. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1998

Arnosky (Crinkleroot's Visit to Crinkle Cove, p. 892, etc.) departs from his usual wildlife settings with a trip to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts of the American Southwest. The artist turns an eye, and a camera, on the desert's animals, always on the lookout for a lizard darting beneath rocks or an elf owl tucked in a hole of the giant saguaro, set against a landscape of rocks and grasses. Rock squirrel and roadrunner, coral snake and turkey vulture—each provide an opportunity for sketching wildlife in its habitat. Tips for observing desert wildlife are interspersed among the comments themselves, rounded out with habits and characteristics of every creature. Writing in a conversational style, Arnosky catalogs his trip from the car window, along the dusty trail, or standing on a field, always making the factual information personal. In a volume resembling Virginia Wright-Frierson's A Desert Scrapbook (1996), many of the detailed drawings are not only lifelike, but life-size, shown from a distance or up close, as it would appear through a telephoto lens. Glorious colors—the emerald green of a Sonoran whipsnake, the pink stain of a pronghorn's waterhole—lift the desert landscape and its creatures out of the dust and into the light. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-12) Read full book review >
LITTLE LIONS by Jim Arnosky
Released: March 16, 1998

A mother mountain lion basks in the sun while her roly-poly kits play on the rock ledge beside her. For a simple poem about her, Arnosky (Watching Water Birds, p. 1384, etc.) has created pictures that use warm golds and tawny wheat tones and that contrast the strong muscles of the mother with the relaxed, tumbling bodies of her young. Close-up drawings invite readers to compare the size of kitten to cat; one kitten can easily be capped in its mother's huge paw. At times the pictures are static, e.g., a kitten somersaulting down the mother's hip looks stiff. Still, toddlers will cozy up to these pictures, which do not idealize wild creatures as much as present them for observation in terms that make sense to the very young. (Picture book. 2-6) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

A cross between a naturalist's diary of backyard observations and a guide to identifying water birds, for newcomers or for pint-sized veterans of duck-feeding at the local pond. Arnosky (Rabbits & Raindrops, 1997, etc.) collects a random assortment of typical water fowl, based on personal sightings, and accompanied by sketches, notes, and full-color, actual-size portraits of a few favorites. Useful identification tips highlight dissimilarities between loons and grebes, geese and ducks, male and female of each species. One exception is the omission of visual references to egrets in their comparison with herons. Arnosky's distinctions include differences in flight characteristics, coloring and markings, and habitat selection, which sharpen the focus to an untrained eye. Birds are depicted in flight or underwater as well as coming in for a landing or gliding on water. A splash of facts inserted in side panels show such things as the mallard's habit of ``tipping up'' or where the female's wings are tucked when not in flight. In an easy conversational style, Arnosky explains just how a seagull spots the sparkling broadsides of fleeing fish underwater. Remarking on his own drawings, the author encourages readers to copy his illustrations in addition to sketching birds outdoors, taking this bird lesson a step beyond mere identification. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-10) Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1997

Crinkleroot's 11th adventure is a cross-country tour of 8 habitats and an introduction to 80 different wildlife species. With jeep, canoe, waders, and his friendly snake, Sassafrass, he explores marshes, swamps, bogs, woodlands, roadsides, cornfields, grasslands, and drylands. The precise text is surprisingly informative, given its brevity, and almost always accompanied by appropriate warnings for explorers: ``The best way to observe most wetlands is in the company of an adult and from the safety of higher ground or a sturdy boardwalk.'' Softly colored watercolors provide a sweeping overview of habitats with details of animals found there, making this an appealing adventure from Arnosky (Rabbits & Raindrops, 1997, etc.). (Picture book. 7-10) Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 27, 1997

Arnosky (Nearer Nature, p. 964, etc.) continues his nature observations in this tale of five bunnies who come out to play in the grass with their mother and spot a caterpillar, butterfly, bird, spider, bumblebee, and more small creatures before raindrops chase them back under the hedge. Small rabbits—and other creatures that come in from the rain—appear in appealing green, gold, and brown scenes that will charm young viewers. Children may not understand (or care) that raindrops remain spherical—as depicted in the illustrations—when they fall, but adults will probably question such a literal depiction of a phenomenon that cannot be seen by the human eye. It's an admirable attempt to make nature accessible, but the real story is in the playfulness of the bunnies and the world they inhabit. (Picture book. 3-5) Read full book review >
NEARER NATURE by Jim Arnosky
Released: Aug. 1, 1996

For 20 years Arnosky (I See Animals Hiding, 1995, etc.) has lived on a Vermont farm ``tucked back against the mountains,'' far from main roads, cities, and villages. Detailed notes he took during a seven-month period in 1987 were expanded into this book, which contains not only descriptions of what he observed on the farm's 50+ acres but also his reflections on what he learned from the land and its creatures across the seasons. From scrutiny of tracks in the snow to the birthing of lambs to the sorrow of losing part of a noble old maple, Arnosky offers windows into the natural world as few readers experience it. This book is about life and death, grief and celebration: With spring comes rebirth, the first flowers, and other recurring miracles of new life on the land. Arnosky makes what he sees visible to readers, through his choice of words and in exquisite black-and-white drawings. This is a book to be savored, not only for the information it conveys but for its affirmation of the beauty of nature. (Nonfiction. 10+) Read full book review >
ALL ABOUT OWLS by Jim Arnosky
Released: Sept. 1, 1995

A first look at owls for younger readers. Arnosky (I See Animals Hiding, p. 220, etc.) describes a few of the 12 species of owls found in North America, their specialized eyes, ears, toes, hunting methods, and cries. His soft, watery, full-color paintings are appealing but lack the crisp detail of Helen Roney Sattler's excellent The Book of North American Owls (p. 394) and several other fine books on the subject that have been published in the last two years. Some spreads will not satisfy the science-minded. One night scene shows ghostly owls, swooping between shadowy trees, with white hand-lettered owl cries and the names of the birds indentified in white type; it's a poetic composition that is also confusing. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-8) Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1995

Camouflage is the theme of Arnosky's guide; readers journeying through these pages will delight in searching out the woodcocks, snowshoe hares, screech owls and others who are perfectly concealed in simple watercolor sketches. It's a top notch book for providing young naturalists with a glimpse into one of the animal kingdom's best kept secrets. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 15, 1994

A night in the life of a mallard and her new ducklings. Arnosky's (Every Autumn Comes the Bear, 1993, etc.) pictures are carefully selected, representative events: the warm apricot and lemon of the sun's slanted rays at sunset and sunrise; the soft lavenders and greens of twilight puddled to portray the lake where the duck takes her brood at nightfall. Streaked horizontally to convey the effects of light, these luminous watercolors define the ducklings, their plump mother, and other species they encounter. Observed with Arnosky's usual care and precision, these include frogs, insects, and birds as well as predators—a pike and a snake. Still, this mother's vigilance keeps her brood from harm. As in McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings, an aura of security pervades the simple, descriptive text and lovely art here, making this a wonderful introduction to wildlife observation. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 14, 1993

In a brief, conversational narrative, Vermonter Arnosky describes a bear arriving on the rocky, wooded hill near his home, disturbing a bobcat in his explorations, taking a last drink from the spring, clawing a tree, and choosing a den for the winter (``Nestled there against cold rock, with only fat and fur to keep him warm''). In Arnosky's luminous watercolors, many other species appear, not all named but all identifiable in his carefully observed art—raccoon, fox, porcupine, deer, cheery little redbreasted nuthatches. As in his other animal portraits (Otters Under Water, 1992), the simply sketched settings are artfully constructed and interestingly varied; on this day, at different times between dawn and dusk, the sun gleams through the shadowed woods and later there's a snow flurry. Again, real natural history in a lovely book. (Picture book. 3-8) Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 31, 1993

For the youngest, a fine concept book. Always as much naturalist as artist, Arnosky begins with a very few basic, concisely stated (but not simplistic) ideas, pointing out that there are ``shorebirds, land birds, and water birds,'' that some can't fly, that ostriches are biggest and hummingbirds smallest, and even describing the wing motions for flying forward, hovering, or gliding. His handsome portraits—memorably clear and vivid—graphically emphasize the birds' most significant features. The ordering is informal but logical (swan, goose, and duck; stork and heron; chicken and turkey seen together). This is not a book that differentiates mallard from Muscovy, adult from juvenile, or even male from female; it's simply an introduction- -and an excellent one. Also available: Crinkleroot's 25 Fish... (ISBN 0-02-705844-1); (Nonfiction/Picture book. 2-8) Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 18, 1992

A very simple descriptive text captions full-bleed color- pencil illustrations of two young otters on a morning fishing expedition, largely under the waters of their northern pond. Arnosky's art is splendid; other creatures (e.g., a pair of hooded merganser ducks) are rendered with precise care (though it would have been nice to identify them, perhaps at the end). Most impressive is Arnosky's control of his medium: luminous, sunny impressionistic colors; playful arrangements of bubbles, reflections, and otters; and the delectable patterns created by intersections of rays of light with the circles and horizontals in the water's surface plane. First-rate natural history for the youngest. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 2-8) Read full book review >
Released: March 31, 1992

The appealing old woodland character introduced in I Was Born in a Tree and Raised by Bees (1977) explains the parts of a tree, uses leaves, seeds, and fall colors to differentiate among species, and then describes the differences between hardwood and softwood forests, emphasizing the advantages of a mixed woods to the many creatures who live in it. A page showing how trees get their shapes, each unique, is of special interest. An attractive introduction, with illustrations that convey information as lucidly as the brief but concise and well-organized text. (Nonfiction. 5-10) Read full book review >
LONG SPIKES by Jim Arnosky
Released: March 23, 1992

In early spring, yearling fawns Long Spikes and his sister lose their mother to coyotes, led by a wily female with a hooked fang. Making their way back to their birth thicket, the orphans find temporary safety. Time passes; a beaver entices a mate, and the thicket is flooded; a bobcat slinks by. Summer becomes fall, and the deer are joined by twin does. The does band; Long Spikes comes into rut and desperately follows them, mating with one of the twins. An older stag who easily dominated Long Spikes during mating season is killed by hunters. Long Spikes survives the hunting season and winter's snow and ice, but nearly falls prey to the coyote that killed his mother. The cycle begins again. Using a simple, descriptive style plus eight straightforward pencil drawings, Arnosky has tried to keep the narrative true to animal behavior and free of any human values, anthropomorphism, or cuteness; by and large, he succeeds admirably. Readers conditioned by the heavy hand of the media might ask, ``Is that all there is? Life and death, mating, survival, and contentment?'' Well, yes. Young readers who can perceive the drama in this simple story will be the wiser for it. (Fiction. 10+) Read full book review >
FISH IN A FLASH! by Jim Arnosky
Released: Aug. 30, 1991

In joyful text and expressive drawings, an artist-naturalist makes vivid the bliss of a favorite sport. Arnosky is a strong advocate of keeping both land and water pure and of throwing back what won't be eaten (pointers on how not to hurt the fish are included). His instructions on using rods, reels, and all sorts of lures (``spinners, spoons, floating-diving and deep running...flashing, wobbling, jerking, twitching or wriggling'') are careful and thorough. His spirited descriptions should lure anyone to try—and feel confident of success. Arnosky's own fishing adventures are chronicled in prose as colorful as his illustrations. Soft, detailed drawings identify those that got away and the beauty of the waters where they swim; there are also clear illustrations of technique and equipment. All that's missing is how to kill a fish—one suspects that what this gentle artist likes best is to admire his fish and then set them free. (Nonfiction. 9-14) Read full book review >
THE EMPTY LOT by Dale H. Fife
Released: May 1, 1991

Harry has come to look over a lot he's selling—his buyers plan a parking garage or a factory—but finds that the area already has plenty of tenants: a tree is an apartment house for birds; frogs and insects share the stream; children have built a tree house. Henry changes his sign: ``Occupied Lot. P.S. Every square inch in use.'' Didactic but not aggressively so. Reverting to his earlier cartoon style, Arnosky lightens the mood while still observing the wildlife with a practiced eye. (Picture book. 4-9) Read full book review >
Released: March 22, 1989

In the style of his Watching Foxes (1984) but surpassing it in virtuosity and visual presentation of information, a description of muskrats' behavior in a cove within view of Arnosky's red barn in northern Vermont. The muskrats venture out in the late afternoon calm, seeking food among water weeds and sporting among cattails and lily pads as the sun sets and birds cease their song. The muskrats stay out until dawn. A very simple text accompanies glorious yet serene illustrations (watercolor and colored pencil on textured material). The limpid cove reflects the landscape's blues and greens, and the setting sun's gold and rose. Beginning with bubbles breaking through water in the front matter (presaging a turtle on the title page spread), many other animals appear; they are not named but are so carefully rendered that they could be identified in appropriate field guides. A fine piece of visual natural history; a very beautiful book, appropriate for bedtime or a story group. Read full book review >