A winter-sports metaphor to generate open-ended conversations about animal species.
Turner and Clifford have created a complex book that puts the power of decision in the hands of its readers. The story begins with a summation of the Wildlife Winter Games: 30 species of Arctic and Antarctic creatures compete for medals across 10 different sporting events. It will be up to readers to determine who wins each event. On the succeeding pages, different species are described under the filter of specific attributes. For example, in terms of hockey, polar bears’ large paws are advantageous when defending the goal, while wolverines are tenacious, and penguins are graceful and work well as a team. Which has the advantage? In this regard, the book is refreshing; its goal is not to create a traditionally plotted story but to provide a framework for readers to consider the merits presented and determine which qualities would ultimately lead to victory. While this concept should be applauded, there are a lot of missteps along the way, most notably the very narrow presentation of the animals’ attributes. Readers do not even learn which are from the Arctic and which are from the Antarctic. There is no backmatter for further reading nor even a map. Clifford’s illustrations of animals with sporting gear are humorous and slightly surreal but do little to enhance readers’ decision-making.
Not a gold or silver but maybe a bronze. (Informational picture book. 8-12)