Smooth segues provide the cement for this high-wattage, if less-than-carefully illustrated, set of animal facts.
Oswald’s cartoon images of popeyed, well-caffeinated creatures crank up the visual energy to frantic levels. Unfortunately, at the outset, they contradict the author’s correct observation that hippos’ noses are placed on the tops of their heads. In another misstep, both illustration and a thought balloon misleadingly suggest that bats can recognize a passing 747 with echolocation (their range is much, much smaller). For the most part, though, DiSiena and Eliot’s revelations are both accurate and just as detailed as they need to be to keep and hold attention. They glide from the hippo’s titular lack of buoyancy (they walk along river bottoms) to the surprising fleetness of sea turtles. From there, it’s on to jellyfish, which don’t actively swim but do flash with bioluminescence—just like fireflies. So it goes, until the parade of facts circles neatly back around to blue whales (“actually the largest animals that have ever lived”) and a closing assurance that “unlike hippos…blue whales sure can SWIM!” Though the authors supply no supportive references or leads to further information, they do tuck in an additional “Fun Fact” about each of the 14 animals at the end. A companion, Chickens Don’t Fly and Other Fun Facts, publishes simultaneously.
The pictures are a weak link, but younger readers and listeners will happily take this quick dive into the sea of random knowledge. (Informational picture book. 5-7)