a list of…five astonishing accounts about assorted animals!

Match the fascinations of the Animal Kingdom with fantastic authors and artists and you’ve got some riveting reading!  Here are five to look for:

Just One Bite: 11 Animals and Their Bites at Life Size!, by Lola Schaefer, illustrated by Geoff Waring

Ahhhh!  This is a splendid, oversized, creative look at what animals eat!

Beginning with a lowly earthworm tunneling in the rich brown earth, we are shown the freckle-sized bit of dirt he can eat in one schwoop.  Such a tiny morsel!

Moving up a notch in size, we see a butterfly delicately perched on a scarlet hibiscus, and we see the three small golden drops of nectar she can slurp up in just one sip.

On we move through our eleven guest star animals, gradually increasing in size; animals on land, in the sea, on wing, each taking their own bite size portions of a favorite food.  So interesting!  What does a komodo dragon eat in one bite?  How about a gorgeous blue parrot?  Finally we come to the granddaddy of them all, the sperm whale, gulping down a giant squid!  This bite is SO large, the pages have to fold out to accomodate it!  Awesome!

Just a tiny bit of text on each page, leaving plenty of room for us to glory in the brilliant, bright, bold illustrations of these creatures and their chosen delicacies.  The book concludes with an attractive array of paragraphs telling us more intriguing information about each of the eleven featured animals and their eating habits. Brilliant concept, exceptionally well done.

Hip-Pocket Papa, by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Alan Marks

Perhaps if you are a herpetologist, you’ve heard of the tiny fellow featured in this book.  (That’s a frog specialist, just by the way.  I had to look that up.)

Otherwise, I’ll bet you’ve never heard of the incredibly interesting hip-pocket frog!  You really ought to make his acquaintance. 

He is tiny:  no bigger than your thumbnail.
He lives in Australia’s temperate rainforest.
He is a Very Responsible Fellow! 

Not only does he stand guard over the glob of eggs hidden among the leaves on the forest floor, but when the eggs hatch, and the teensy-weensy tadpoles emerge, he maneuvers his way down to them, and lets those little tadpoles squiggle their way up his back legs into some special, top-secret pockets he’s got on his hips!  Then, he goes about his days, nourishing himself, making sure his skin stays wet for the sake of his taddies, escaping from predators…for a month…until the time comes for him to find a new home for the tadpoles who have now morphed into froglets, and who squirm out of papa’s pockets to live on their own.  Crazy!!!

This is an excellent, clear, succinct account of this marvelous species, and it is accompanied by really beautiful watercolor illustrations, vibrating with the emerald greens, glowing golds, and amethyst blues of the rainforest.  Other unusual Australian animals appearing in the story are given a brief introduction in an animal glossary, and books for further reading are noted, for those whose curiosity is peaked.  Great for ages 6 and up.

White Owl, Barn Owl, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Michael Foreman

A hale-and-hearty young girl and her smashing Grandpa team up to install a huge nesting box in a grand old oak tree, gianting up from the frosty fields.  It’s a nesting box for barn owls,  and as they install it, Grandpa answers his granddaughters curious questions about this mysterious bird.  After they’ve got the box set up, there’s nothing left but to wait patiently, night after night after night, hoping a barn owl will choose to come.

And…finally one beautiful owl, with pearly, heart-shaped face and dark shining eyes, does come!  In silence, the girl and her dear Grandpa watch the breathtaking sight; watch him fly, and perch, and catch a mouse.  Listen to the utter absence of noise made by his soft wings, and the twittering and hissing of his owlets hidden in the nesting box. 

This is a sweet, quiet story, and the watercolor and pastel illustrations are equally lovely and whisper-soft.  Along with the main story line, Davies captions the illustrations with interesting owl facts.  And interspersed with the glimpses of the feathery owl in the purple nighttime, Foreman gives us cameos of this charming pair of people who clearly adore it.  These blendings are done brilliantly, making this a book that will easily hold the attention of young children.  The book concludes with information about nesting boxes in case you want to try setting one out yourself. 

Where in the Wild?: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed…and Revealed, Ear-Tickling Poems by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy, with Eye-Tricking Photos by Dwight Kuhn

This is a fantastic little book, packed with information, that pulls young readers and listeners into the challenge of spotting a camouflaged animal concealed in its surroundings.  And they are mighty tricky to find, let me assure you!

First up is a gorgeous photograph of woods in autumn with brilliant golden leaves on the trees and carpeting the forest floor.  Wait… There’s an animal hidden in this photo?!  You’ll have to look and then look harder to spot the coyote peering out at you.  Amazing! 

Each two-page spread in this book has a poem on one side, giving clues as to the kind of creature we’re supposed to be finding, and a beautiful, full-color, photograph on the other, in which that animal is craftily concealed.  Can’t find it?  Then…open up the flap on the photo page and you will see the same photo with all the colors subdued except for that camouflaged creature.  Aha!  So very sneaky!

On that folded-out page, a highly informative account of the animal  is written up,  along with several more photos.  These paragraphs are very well-written with details to fascinate anyone from mid-elementary and up, making this a nice book for a wide age-range.  Use it with the very young who are patient enough to look carefully for the hidden animals, and for older children who enjoy the photo-challenge as well as the information.  Very clever book, and there’s a second volume in print for those who want some more!

Marsupials, written and photographed by Nic Bishop

If you remember… I love Nic Bishop’s work!  He is outstanding!

For this book, he spent six months in Australia, wandering among kangaroos and sneaking up on wombats.  He wants us to pity him for the heat he had to endure, but…I don’t know.  Sounds pretty amazing to me!


In this slim volume, Bishop describes and displays a host of these unusual mammals whose names we’ve never heard before — boodies and bilbies, potoroos and dibblers — they’re all here!

With his stunning, painstaking photography, Bishop brings us face to face with soft fuzzy-faced kangaroos, charming, sleepy koalas, quirky, bright-eyed bilbies, dunnarts and quolls, and many more marsupials.  He then uses his happy knack of providing just enough information about these guys, written plainly and winsomely, to give us a welcome introduction to their world.  These are odd little animals with a host of peculiar habits, so the descriptions are never lacking in color and spice and wonder!

Bishop includes a personal note describing some of his adventures and processes in capturing these photographs which is very interesting as well.  He’s won multiple awards for his work, for very good reason.  You can’t miss with one of his books!

Here are Amazon links for all these titles:
Just One Bite
Hip-Pocket Papa
White Owl, Barn OwlWhere in the Wild?: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed… and Revealed
Nic Bishop Marsupials