Price Stern Sloan, Los Angeles
The resident 4 year old loves non-fiction, and tales set in verse. This book with non-fiction in verse combines two of his loves and naturally, is a big hit.
Each double page spread is devoted to one creature, with a brightly colored full-page illustration on the left, and text in verse on the right. Each poem is the perfect length to hold the interest of young readers. There are fourteen in all, from all seven continents. We learn about okapis, narwhals, alpacas, sloths, mandrills, auks, fire-bellied toads, tree crabs, the duckbill platypus, elf owl, Jackson’s chameleon, tarsier, meerkats, and the Chinese pangolin (anteaters).
The text is simple enough for a four or five year old to read by himself or herself. A world map showing where these creatures live is my four year-old’s favorite feature that he used to pore over before he read the book.
I was reminded of this excerpt from the Mohawk version of Thanksgiving address that is printed onto every American passport.
‘We send thanks to all the Animal life in the world. We are glad they are still here.
They have many things to teach us people, we hope it will always be so.’
I could see that my son identified with the parts about self-defense.
“His enemies are terrified
And run away in fright.
So rarely does the mandrill male
Really have to fight.”
“Okapis make no sound at all
And forests kept them covered,
And that is why it took so long
For them to be discovered.
These gentle vegetarians,
So mild and sweet and shy,
Can buck and kick when they’re alarmed
Their heels fly hard and high.”
My personal favorite is this bit about meerkats-
“They work together as a team
And share their chores all day.
Some hunt, some guard, some babysit;
It’s fair to all that way.
Each takes a turn at every task.
Their system is unique.
The one who stands on guard can warn
The others with a squeak”
There is so much that we can learn from the natural world!
The magic of rhyme and beautiful illustrations make the book a treasure.
We loved ‘Curious Creatures…’ so much that we’ve ordered another book by the same author – ‘Where Fish Go in Winter and other great mysteries’ – more non-fiction in verse!
[Image source amazon.com]