Tuesday, January 01, 2013

In the Beginning: My First Day--What Animals Do on Day One by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page


Probably not much. If you were like most newborn babies, you opened your eyes, cried, slept, and drank some milk. And that’s about all you could do.

Some animals are even more helpless at birth.  Some may have a parent nearby but others are able to walk, swim, or fly almost as soon as they are born. And many animals are on their own from the very start.

A kiwi bird emerges after hours to struggling out of her shell, all ready to be independent. A kitten can’t open its eyes, walk, or even maintain its body temperature completely on its own.

We all come into the world in very different ways. Giraffes drop five feet from their mothers without harm. Wood ducks shake off their shells, fluff out, and jump out of the nest to swim behind their mothers right away, while baby emperor penguins huddle beneath their fathers’ warm down for many days, waiting for their mothers to bring food. And, of course, humans begin a long infancy and childhood on the way to full adulthood decades later.

Birth is one of the most momentous moments of life for all creatures, and Steven Jenkins’ and Robin Page’s forthcoming My First Day (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) devotes full-page spreads to each of a wide variety of animals who enter the world in very diverse ways, from baby leatherback turtles who run for the safety of the sea to baby sea otters who float in luxury on their mothers’ furry tummies, from little Darwin’s frogs who pop out of their father’s incubating mouths as instant adults in all but size. Jenkins’ soft watercolor paintings, sometimes set off against bright white pages, sometimes in full-bleed color backgrounds, are both realistic and evocative of the beauty of baby animals in all their variety.

"Fun and very educational," says Booklist.



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