Adopting an interactive, question-and-answer approach, Levine introduces children to common characteristics and variations in the teeth of mammals.
Directly addressing readers, the author invites them to identify the three types of mammal teeth (incisors, canines, and molars) by looking into a mirror. “Do you see the flat teeth in front? Those are your incisors. If you haven’t lost any recently, you should have four on top and four on the bottom. How many do you have?” Next, Levine asks readers to guess which kind of mammal they’d be if they sported particular types of teeth—for example, “if you had really long canines?” A page turn delivers an answer, capitalized exuberantly: “A SEAL OR A CAT OR A DOG OR A BEAR!” (Asterisked footnotes often add additional examples.) Spookytooth’s flat, stylized, presumably digitally composed pictures incorporate textures of watercolor and wood, using shadows to suggest depth and dimension. Two girls and two boys with differing skin colors hilariously embody Levine’s “what ifs,” modeling everything from a beaver’s protruding incisors to the tusks of the elephant, walrus, warthog, and narwhal. Levine points out specific adaptations in the teeth of meat eaters, herbivores, and omnivores and devotes a few pages to the mainly undifferentiated teeth of nonmammals.
As they did in Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons, Levine and Spookytooth successfully combine science fact, interactive fun, and giggle-inducing pictures. (additional facts, glossary, bibliography, Web resources) (Informational picture book. 5-9)