Tails communicate volumes in these encounters among many animals.
Animal interlocutors include a fox and a skunk, a beaver family, courting peacocks, a skink and a raccoon, and more. In every recto-verso sequence one animal responds with a tail action to another animal, with an explanation on the following page. The text is fairly simple and repetitive in format, blending prose and simplistic, rhyming phrases. A small monkey called a marmoset from Brazil (the location is mentioned only in the extensive backmatter) attempts to steal an egg from a nest. The text reads: “An egg thief is startled by a squawking mother bird. Fluff Puff. What’s the marmoset’s tail saying?” After the page turn, the text reads: “I had a fright! Hold me tight! The family cuddles and comforts the little one.” In the first picture, the baby marmoset’s tail expands to show its terror as the bird attacks it to save its young. When adult marmosets rescue their baby, the tails all go back to normal. The heavily detailed paintings realistically depict the animals and their environments, with meticulously rendered flora. A backmatter section for children includes animal descriptions (with small color photos) written at a higher reading level than the main text, and a separate one for caregivers includes an author’s note, tips for use, and related STEM and social-emotional–development activities.
Although the text is awkward, savvy adults can use the whole package to initiate conversations. (Informational picture book. 4-6)