Monday, August 26, 2013

Bottoms Up!: Animals Upside Down by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page


Along with many other creatures, they turn upside down. A few of them, in fact, spend most of their lives that way.

But animals go bottoms-up for different reasons.

The upside-down jellyfish rests, tentacle-side up, its head planted on the floor of the ocean, masquerading as a water plant, with its tendrils drifting back and forth with the current until an unwary prey floats into its reach.  Then--ZAP--it's meal time!

Mallards dabble upside down, with only their cute little duck tails above water, using their wide bills to forage on the muddy bottom for a ducky dinner.

The sparrowhawk flies right side up... until it spots a snack-sized bird for its breakfast. Birds are programmed to watch for raptors from above, so this small hawk flips in flight and mounts its sneak attack from  the prey's  blind side below.  And since bats can't reach airspeed right side up, they sleep upside down and let gravity do the work when they drop-glide into flight for the  night shift.

Sloths make like Red Riding Hood's wolf, "the better to eat you, my dear," as they hang by their curved claws, conserving energy, while they snack on low-calorie leaves. Three diverse animals use the upside down position to feign death: the pale green beetle and o'possum do the flop, legs stiff in the air, to appear unappetizingly dead. But the hog-nosed snake tops all of them with an act any Academy Award winner could envy: he inverts with his pale underbelly up, secretes a smelly liquid that makes him reek like road kill, and even adds a persuasive trickle of blood from his mouth.

And the male bird of paradise turns himself into a feathery Valentine to woo a lady, flipping and displaying his bright underside to wow and woo his sweetheart.

Robin Page's and Steve Jenkins' forthcoming Animals Upside Down: A Pull, Pop, Lift & Learn Book! (Houghton Mifflin, 2013) is replete with gorgeous animal drawings from illustrator Jenkins and highly readable text by author Page. But in a departure from their many award-winning nature study books, this one ventures into the interactive book genre, quaintly called "Toy and Movable Books." With surprising special effects in the form of pop-ups, flaps, pull-tabs, and wheels to make amazing things happen on the page:  a swimming mallard paddles across the water until a tab-pull flips a flap and shows him bottom up; a pop-up fruit bat explodes from its perch, upside down, its wings spread wide; a threatened skunk does a handstand, raises his tail, and lets fire with his memorable stinky spray stuff and pangolins, woolly monkeys, and green monkey skinks use their prehensile tails to swing through the treetops.

Adding the hands-on feature to Jenkins' notable illustrations make this book a surefire child pleaser and with ultra sturdy moving parts and an appendix of picture index of featured creatures to prod further reading, Animals Upside Down: A Pull, Pop, Lift & Learn Book! is a rising star in interactive nonfiction for the primary grades.

Happily Page and Jenkins end their book by taking the focus right back to reader, with a child flipping to do an upside downer in a full handstand.
Turning upside down helps animals in lots of different ways....
But sometimes going topsy-turvy is just for fun!

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home