Twenty-one representatives of the largest mammalian order pose in this fetching portrait gallery.
Each one depicted, all or in part, at actual size, the rodentine array begins with a pocket-watch–size African pygmy jerboa and concludes with the largest member of the clan, the “sweet-looking capybara.” In between, specimens climb the scale past chipmunks and northern flying squirrels to a Norway rat, porcupine, and groundhog. Despite a few outliers such as the naked mole rat and a rather aggressive-looking beaver, Munro’s animals—particularly her impossibly cute guinea pig—strongly exude shaggy, button-eyed appeal. Her subjects may come across as eye candy, but they are drawn with naturalistic exactitude, and in her accompanying descriptive comments, she often relates certain visible features to distinctive habitats and behaviors. She also has a terrific feel for the memorable fact: naked mole rats run as quickly backward in their tunnels as forward; African giant pouched rats have been trained to sniff out mines; the house mouse “is a romantic. A male mouse will sing squeaky love songs to his girlfriend” (that are, fortunately or otherwise, too high for humans to hear). Closing summaries will serve budding naturalists in need of further specifics about sizes, diets, geographical ranges, and the like.
“Humans are lucky to have rodents,” Munro argues…and makes her case with equal warmth to hearts and minds. (websites, index) (Informational picture book. 7-9)