Just like human children, animals love to play, both to practice adult skills and to have fun.
Gianferrari plays with words, especially action verbs, to introduce an unusual array of animals. “Plonk, dig, slide” and “rub, plop, blow” are the sounds of collared peccaries and rhinos in the mud. “Nibble-fumble, hurdle-tumble, ready to rumble” describes wrestling rats. These playful words and phrases appear in large uppercase letters set at a slight angle to represent movement on the page. A straightforward short sentence identifies the animal and its actions. Boxed explanations add information—ungulates are mammals with hooves, for example—and describe what the depicted animals are learning. Playing tug of war, wolves learn fair play. Both elephants and dolphins practice cooperation through play. Other examples are monkeys, ravens, river otters, dolphins, kangaroos, gorillas, and keas. In the backmatter the author explains why readers should play, how they should “play by the rules, like these animals do”: stepping away if hurt; apologizing; accepting the apology. Finally, there is a further, fairly dense paragraph about each of the featured animals. Illustrator Powell used paints, handmade textures, and digital techniques to create her appealing images. Most spreads show the animals in a natural scene, but a few show a diverse set of five children and the artist’s own black-and-white dog. (On the jacket-flap bio she invites readers to look for him.)
A lively addition to the animal shelf. (Informational picture book. 4-8)