by Amy Gibson
illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
From Far Far North to Down Under and Out Back, we travel the world and discover the various animals, some thriving, some extinct. All in charming lilting rhyming verse.
Some are short crisp verses, some are multi-stanza poems, but they all bring out a distinguishing feature about the animal in an unforgettable way.
Although Anaconda is fond of a hug,
to my liking, his hug is a little too snug —
And a little too strong, and a little too long,
and that's why when I see him, I hurry along.
The illustration for this poem shows a fairly devious-looking anaconda wrapped tightly around a sign that reads "Free Hugs".
We learn about Auk (extinct), Skua, Guillemot (and its wedge-shaped eggs), Proboscis Monkey, Pangolin, Slow Loris, Takin, Goanna, and even tiny Krill, among other "regulars", of course, like the giraffe, camel, bilby and chinchilla.
When moved to talk,
the awkward auk
lets out an awful,
No dainty squeak,
no piercing shriek,
no chilling screech
slips past his beak...
(and a couple more verses that reiterate the squawk of the auk).
The illustrations by Daniel Salmieri, combining watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil, complement the text well and are laced with humor and lightness - the expressions on the animals faces, their body language all generate a series of amusing, if not laugh-out-loud, moments as we read the book.
The "Menagerie of Facts" located at the back of the book lists the animals alphabetically with brief notes about them. [Amy Gibson's site has resources for teachers]
Much like Polar Bear, Arctic Hare by Eileen Spinelli, this is a book I'd love to have on my bookshelf to reach for at will and enjoy a random page or two when in the mood. It is delightful and informative, with simple colorful illustrations that lean on the funny side.
There's something in this book each for the budding writer, the curious young zoologist, the quirky goofball, and the seasoned adult.