The focus is on food chains in this follow-up to the dazzling Animal Camouflage (2017).
Once again Dennis’ precise, realistic cut-paper illustrations command attention. Labeled silhouettes of individual plants and animals are color coded to show their predator-prey relationships within seven marine or terrestrial habitats; these are followed by intricate, full-page monochrome scenes in which the flora and fauna are artfully incorporated, to be picked out by the sharp of eye. The accompanying observations and infographics offer a light wash of general observations, questions (“Which creature is the apex predator?”), and repetitive instructions to seek producers and consumers in each large picture. Hutchinson properly develops the notion of “web” along with “chain” from the outset. Unfortunately, he places the selected wildlife into “trophic levels” without clearly defining the term, inconsistently identifies some figures by name but others only by function (“insect-eating bird” for example), and includes “decomposers” only in the “Woodland” food chain. But there’s room for delight: For an array of woodland creatures that includes an earthworm, the author asks which can climb trees…and even confirmed young naturalists may be astonished at the (correct) answer at the end: “All of them!”
The art is a bigger draw than the text, but both reward close looks. (Informational picture book. 6-8)