Hello to you all and welcome to a roundup of terrific children’s books all featuring animals! On the review docket today are three titles courtesy of the kind folks at Pajama Press. We’ll be taking a look at: When Elephants Listen with Their Feet: Discover Extraordinary Animal Senses, a non-fiction title from Emmanuelle Grundmann and Clémence DuPont; Raven, Rabbit, Deer by Sue Farrell Holler and Jennifer Faria; and Benjamin’s Blue Feet by Sue Macartney. Hope you enjoy!
A children’s-and-up non-fiction title sure to appeal to readers who love learning cool animal facts, Emmanuelle Grundmann and illustrator Clémence Dupont’s When Elephants Listen with Their Feet: Discover Extraordinary Animal Senses is fascinating reading. Divided into eight short chapters- including Eyes Wide Open, You Have Good Taste, Pointing North, and Superhero Animals, and more- each section includes a brief overview, followed by spreads of short headlines and respective facts. Some sections include notes about animals records in their categories, as well as concise rundowns of terminology or phrases (e.g. echolocation, magnetic field, swimming in shoals, etc.). From learning about the incredible nose of a star-nosed mole to why kangaroo rats drum their legs, or how an echidna’s muzzle works as a “electrical signal detector” to how a medusa might just be “practically immortal”, When Elephant’s Listen with Their Feet is packed with all kinds of unusual or genuinely interesting information. Just about every fact presented in each category has a corresponding illustration (realistically and beautifully rendered by Dupont), which not only aids in comprehension but also adds to the visual interest. With its clean presentation and format, realistic and appealing illustrations, and practical approach to conveying information, When Elephants Listen with Their Feet is a winning non-fiction title. Fans of non-fiction animal compendiums, or series such as Jess Keating and David DeGrand’s The World of Weird Animals, National Geographic Kids animal-focused titles might especially love When Elephants Listen with Their Feet. Extras: Index of Animals (in order of animal species; including animal description and corresponding page number), and alphabetized Index. Note: Originally published under the title Quand l’éléphant écoute avec ses pieds…by Fleurus éditions.
Written by Sue Farrell Holler and illustrated by Jennifer Faria, Raven, Rabbit, Deer is a warm winter story featuring a lively young narrator, his grandfather, and a walk full of discovery in the forest. The story opens with our narrator, a young boy, smiling and dropping their red boots onto grandpa’s lap- eager to take a walk in their snowy surroundings! As grandpa and child walk carefully in the snow, they stop to look at animals and habitats around them, with the grandfather saying the name of the animals first in English, then in Ojibwemowin. A walk that involves learning and lessons, as well as thoughtful and innocent considerations made by the young boy, the story eases into a terrifically snug ending. Sue Farrell Holler captures the imagination and chatter of a young protagonist so well here, making Raven, Rabbit, Deer endearingly sweet and surely to appeal to young listeners and readers; while the beautifully inviting, toasty-sweet illustrations by Jennifer Faria are soothing and retro-feeling in their rosy charm. An easy-moving story highlighting a lovely intergenerational relationship between a child and their grandparent, Raven, Rabbit, Deer makes for cozy reading and happy animal searching- even for the littlest of of readers. Readers who enjoy sweet family-centered stories and/or children’s titles such as When We Are Kind, In the Sky at Nighttime, A Walk on the Tundra, or A Stopwatch from Grampa, might especially enjoy this lovely tale. Extras: Endpapers contain full-page illustrations featuring a snowy scene with a deer, rabbit, and raven, their respective Ojibwemowin spelling and a pronunciation guide.
Author and illustrator Sue Macartney’s Benjamin’s Blue Feet takes readers on a lively and educational journey with a darling blue-footed booby. Benjamin is “the best little treasure-hunting blue-footed booby” on the Galapagos Islands, with amazing items in his possession like a “string-stretch-it” and a “hole-thing-um”. But now Benjamin has found a “twink-um-doodle”- the “best treasure- EVER”, and takes it back to his “hiding place”. Now, the “twink-um-doodle” shows Benjamin his reflection…and as Benjamin stares- really stares- at himself and his blue-footed booby features, things go awry. While comparing himself and features to other animals around him, Benjamin not only starts berating his features, but also gets himself into a bit of a mess. Hopefully not too many spoilers here, but it is through experiencing a bout a danger that Benjamin realizes his Benjamin-ness and his beautiful blue-footed booby traits are pretty perfect just as they are. A vivacious story starring an endearing main characters that blends educative elements and awareness about environmental protection in an altogether fun, satisfying story, Benjamin’s Blue Feet makes for great reading. Sue Macartney’s softly-rendered yet active, expressive illustrations of Benjamin and his animal friends just add to the energy and charm of the story! Readers who are looking for picture books with themes environmental awareness (like Hello Hello or Most of the Better Natural Things in the World), or those who love picture books with a unique or standout animal star- along the lines of Jennifer Sattler’s Sylvie, Helaine Becker and Orbie’s Sloth at the Zoom, or Deborah Freedman’s Carl and the Meaning of Life– might especially love meeting Benjamin. Extras: Be sure to check out “Creatures of the Galapagos”, and “A Note about Trash in the Ocean” (and the accompanying sweet illustrations) on the book’s endpapers. Teaching Guide and other resources for this title are available on Pajama Press’s site!
I received copies of these titles courtesy of Pajama Press in exchange for honest reviews. All opinions and comments are my own. Title have been published and are currently available.