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TALK, TALK, SQUAWK! by Nicola Davies


A Human's Guide to Animal Communication

by Nicola Davies & illustrated by Neal Layton

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5088-9
Publisher: Candlewick

Having explored poop and parasites, survival techniques and size, Davies and Layton turn to animal communication, describing how animals send and receive messages by sound, sight, smell and touch, for a variety of purposes.

A "hand"-standing panda on the title page sets the cheerful tone of this informal introduction. The author has chosen both familiar and unusual examples, often connecting the animal behavior to children's experiences in ways that almost cross the line into anthropomorphization. Fish coloration is likened to school uniforms; the superb lyrebird performs his mating song and dance on a "stage" of his own making; great bustards "look like large white balloons" as they announce "I am gorgeous." That panda-gymnast is trying to "send an extra signal—'The panda who left this message is very BIG indeed.' " Cartoonlike illustrations, almost doodles, done in ink and colored digitally, add humor to every page, even in the backmatter. They often include speech balloons demonstrating the animals' messages. (The endpapers feature animal sounds in the front, "translated" in the back.) Like other books in this series (most recently, Just the Right Size, 2009), the compact trim size, mostly one-topic-per-spread organization and tongue-in-cheek illustrations will appeal to child readers.

Something to crow about. (index, glossary) (Nonfiction. 8-12)