Thursday, April 26, 2012

Guess Who? Animals...And Their Families by Barbara Nascimbeni

My Sound: I Roar
My Home: Sea Ice
My Meal: Seals, Fish


Barbara Nascimbeni's just-out Animals and Their Families (Owlkids Books, 2012) adopts a novel device for presenting common domestic and wild animals to the very young. This sturdy and generously sized board book presents a large silhouette of an animal in profile on the left-hand page, while on the facing right-hand page we see gentle stylized drawings of the subject animal in its habitat caring for its young, along with names for the male, female, and baby when appropriate. For example, the reader learns that the baby polar bear is a cub, and his daddy bear is called a boar and mommy bear is a sow. At the bottom of the page are circles presenting the factual clues about vocalization, habitat, and diet.

Animals range from the friendly and furry (cats, dogs, rabbits) among pets to the useful domestic types (pigs, horses, cows, chickens) to the well-known wild and free-ranging (wolves, giraffes, tigers, deer) and the more exotic wild ones usually seen in zoos and aquariums (octopuses, crocodiles, sharks). There are wet pets like fish, and wet non-pets such as penguins and frogs. There are animals that go low on the ground (snakes and snails) and animals that soar through the air (bats and owls). Animals range from crustacea to fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

The double-page format provides opportunity for guessing games with one child or a story circle, by showing only the silhouette or by reading only the three-part descriptions, from easy ones like the horse (I neigh; I live in a stable or paddock; I eat grass and hay) or the more exotic like the crocodile (I chomp; I live in rivers and marshlands; I eat zebras, antelopes, fish--!) The soft, gentle illustrations and the super sturdy page stock make this book attractive for little ones to "read" on their own. A good choice for the preschool animal book shelf.

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