The sincerity in these versified valentines to 13 often-reviled animals may ring true, but the natural history doesn’t always pass muster.
Following a strong opener—“Turkey vulture, please be mine, / Not because you soar so fine, / But ’cause you rock on clean-up crew; / No rot is left when you are through”—the quality of the informational content takes a sharp nose dive. There are arguable claims that moles and opossums do no damage to gardens and that flies and cockroaches should be considered helpful recyclers of dead matter, as well as the befuddling, apparently rhyme-driven assertion that moths (not as caterpillars but in their flying, adult stage) are pests that “dine on fields of grain.” Dubbing these and other subjects from skunks and vampire bats to mosquitoes and snakes “secret friends,” Lang closes with an invitation to readers to compose similar love notes to “someone who is misunderstood.” In oval or unbordered natural settings, Gallegos renders each creature with reasonable accuracy, though sometimes with a smile or oversized eyes for extra visual appeal.
Well meant but unsuccessful. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)