Whimsy rules this pairing of unusual animal facts and droll illustrations.
Goossens blends more or less common knowledge about 25 creatures, such as the fact that panthers are a kind of leopard or that sharks have to keep moving even when they sleep, with assertions that may set even well-read young naturalists back. Polar bears are left-handed (“...as are most artists”); both bison and penguins can jump six feet or more into the air; a drop of alcohol on a scorpion’s back will cause it to “go completely berserk and sting itself to death.” Interpreting this information with tongue-in-cheek literal-mindedness, Tolman supplies spacious painted scenes that dominate each spread. Small daubed images of bison meet for a long-jump competition; an expired scorpion lies next to a spilled glass of wine; drowsy sharks drift with plush toys tucked under their fins; in more gruesome turns, crocodiles and lions chow down bloodily (or is that ketchup?). Outré as the author’s unsourced claims might be, readers may be inclined to go with the flow just because they are presented in such a lighthearted way. And who knows? Perhaps most of them are true, or at least truthy.
A distinct change of pace from the general run of animal galleries, if better suited for chortling over than mining for school reports. (Picture book. 6-8)