From Alexander the Great’s steed Bucephalus to Dolly the sheep and the first Shamu, a gallery of animals that have played roles, large or small, in human history.
Modeled on the collaborators’ previous Presidential Pets (2012), each of the chronologically ordered entries features a full-page cartoon caricature opposite a mix of at least marginally relevant facts (“Horses sleep both lying down and standing up”) and observations that feel more like filler than anything else. “Josephine changed her name from Rose because Napoleon didn’t like it,” reads one in the piece on a dog that fished Napoleon Bonaparte out of the Mediterranean; “Leonardo never married or had children,” reads another on Leonardo da Vinci’s propensity for freeing caged birds. Also as in Pets, Moberg introduces each chosen creature in verse that ranges from inane to merely laughably inept: Spotting penguins in South America, “Magellan was surprised / That creatures used to snow / Also liked the sun / And life as Latinos!” Some passages are printed over brightly colored backgrounds and so are hard to read. Furthermore, the author provides no sources whatsoever. Still, fans of Keltie Thomas’ Animals That Changed the World (2010) will find new creatures aplenty here, along with the familiar likes of Balto, Koko and Punxsutawney Phil.
A browser’s delight, despite lowering the bar considerably for publishable poetry. (Nonfiction. 9-11)