With its rubbery ducklike bill, reptilian walk, and venomous spurs, the puzzling platypus is a mammal like no other.
This curious Australian creature lays eggs and then provides milk for its young. Whiting’s introduction emphasizes physiology, habits, diet, and feeding behavior. There's a two-level text for reading aloud or alone: a chronicle of a male platypus’s nighttime activities, constantly in motion as he forages in a pool surrounded by gum trees, plus a paragraph of extra, relevant facts presented in a smaller font. A page of expository backmatter summarizes the animal’s major characteristics, tells where they can be found, and mentions threats to its survival. An index also provides a list of important platypus words (bill, monotreme, spurs). Jackson's mixed-media illustrations have the appearance of paint applied over lines done with a red pencil or thin brush. With their dark colors and wavery lines they're sometimes obscure—as is the actual animal in the wild. First published in Australia, this storylike portrayal would pair well with Sneed B. Collard and Andrew Plant’s A Platypus, Probably (2005), which tells more about the animal's ancient history and natural history and has considerably more detailed, lifelike illustrations.
Smoothly written and gently informative, this is a nice addition to the elementary-level nature shelf. (Informational picture book. 5-9)