Major similarities and differences among six classes of animals—and two additional animal categories—are explained with the aid of simple rhymes and sophisticated art.
A text that aspires to reveal nature facts using rhythm and rhyme can easily fall into pitfalls—sometimes sacrificing meaning for good scansion or vice versa. Amazingly, this book manages to convey elemental facts about animals with verse that both scans and informs. The initial double-page spread shows two children gazing at creatures in a tide pool. The book’s opening (and closing) lines emphasize the idea that Earth’s animals have many tangible differences but also that all are, as the subtitle says, “kin.” Variations that categorize each family are discussed and illustrated in the pages that follow. An excellent double-page spread of appealing mammals illustrating the qualifying traits of milk, fur, warmbloodedness, live birth, and parental care is followed by an equally thoughtful spread with a lineup of humans as mammals that contains diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, and the many ways that human families are defined. Categories beyond common animal families include “detritovores,” which merits this descriptive—and humorous—couplet: “Detritovores, so oft forgotten, / dine on things both dead and rotten.” As with the rest of the text, the couplet is followed by further explanation of the category and accompanied by vibrant, detailed art. Backmatter provides both further information and resources for readers who want to help animals.
A very welcome addition to nature shelves. (Informational picture book. 3-8)