Bold markings and showy displays make some animals stand out.
Arnosky’s characteristically detailed nature drawings and paintings illustrate an album of animal hams. Short chapters describe “skin spreaders” such as lizards and snakes, “noise makers” like bellowing alligators, “inflators” like the male magnificent frigatebird; deer, goats, and sheep with horns and antlers; fish with inviting or warning colors; and birds with distinctive plumage. Each chapter includes full-bleed, full-page acrylic paintings plus sidebar pencil drawings (some colored) to accompany the explanatory text. Interspersed are fold-out spreads of two and even four pages showing the fanned tails of a peacock and a turkey, fully developed antlers on an elk, and fancy plumes on a great egret. The author’s informative narrative is chatty and personal; his well-chosen examples include animals he’s observed in the wild near his homes in Vermont and Florida as well as animals from far-off places, such as the Australian frilled lizard. Some drawings have extra labels in script as if they were taken from his notebook. As with others in this series, like his most recent Hidden Wildlife (2017), this can be read aloud or alone, but it is designed for the same kind of careful, repeated attention the longtime naturalist pays to the outdoor world.
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)