Friday, April 20, 2012

Dining Out: Time to EAT by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

What's for dinner in the animal kingdom?

Well, almost anything you can imagine--and some you'd just as soon not think about too much! Steve Jenkins and Robin Page provide their usual beautiful nature illustrations, detailed and realistic as a biology text, but their brief text lets it all hang out. Nature is as nature does, and when it comes to the dinner plate, nature has some weird tastes!

A cute chipmunk stuffs his prodigious cheek pouches with seeds and a sweet-looking panda gravely munches bamboo foliage as expected:


But meanwhile over in the thorn tree, a butcherbird is impaling a protesting grasshopper on a handy thorn (OUCH!) and down in the dirt a dung beetle is rolling his ball of--(well, you know) concentrated poo toward his dugout, a tick is slurping up 100 times his own weight in the blood of his unwary host, and down in the tropics the giant anaconda is opening his throat and swallowing a goat (GULP!) in one of his three meals of the year!

These guys make a group of tots look like poster children for table manners!

Meanwhile, other strange but less disgusting dining habits among the animal kingdom are displayed--the tiger shark noshing on shoes and license plates along with the more nutritious fish, the black widow spider spinning his silk around an immobilized bug, and the baby blue whale proving that he's the mammalian champ, slugging down the equivalent of 800 baby bottles of his mommy's rich milk per day!

Two celebrated author-illustrators have got to be better than one, and in Steve Jenkins' and Robin Page's Time to Eat (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011) we have an exemplary product of the power of collaboration. Jenkins' and Page's classic cut-and-torn-paper collages are expressive and charming, and their engaging text tells all vis-a-vis those gustatory curiosities. All in all, seventeen animals are featured in full- or double-page illustrations, set off spot-art style, with nicely-sized font for young readers. An appendix features thumbnail illustrations and fact-index for further information on the featured animals. A "standout science title from the husband-and-wife team," says Booklist with a starred review.

Companion books in this notable nature trilogy are Time to Sleep and Time for a Bath.

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