Dear axolotl: Why do you have feathers growing out of your head?Axolotl: They aren't feathers—they're gills! They let me breathe underwater. 

Let's face it. Even as babies, we humans pay close attention to faces. Observing another person's features and expressions tells us whether they are happy, angry, excited, or sad. And when we look at an animal, it's hard not to imagine that its face is communicating human feelings. This isn't true, of course. Squinty eyes, an upturned mouth, or another odd expression is probably there because, in some way, it helps that animal survive.      Packed with many cool facts and visuals on where certain animals live and what they eat, this book captures twenty-five humorous—and very true—explanations of why animals look the way they do in order to exist in this world.


The format here is quite entertaining with each animal answering a question about an unusual feature that they have which results in some amusing answers.  Such as the mandrill (baboon) who tells the reader that his bright nose is to tell other mandrills males not to mess with him, but who doesn't want to talk about his colorful rear end.  The questions are also phrased in an enjoyable way such as the question addressed to the red fan parrot:

 "Where did you get that funny hat?"

The answer?

"I'm not wearing a hat.  Those are my feathers.  When I'm frightened, I fan them out to make me look larger and more intimidating."

As for the illustrations, they are typical Steve Jenkins: AWESOME!  This is a book that would be perfect for sharing in a group or one on one.  The maps and size comparisons at the end are a nice bonus.


Beetles squeak and beetles glow.

Beetles stink, beetles sprint, beetles walk on water.

With legs, antennae, horns, beautiful shells, nobs, and other oddities—what’s not to like about beetles?

The beetle world is vast: one out of every four living things on earth is a beetle.

There are over 350,000 different species named so far and scientists suspect there may be as many as a million.

From the goliath beetle that weighs one fourth of a pound to the nine inch long titan beetle, award-winning author-illustrator Steve Jenkins presents a fascinating array of these intriguing insects and the many amazing adaptations they have made to survive. 


I'll be the first to admit that I'm not particularly found of insects, but I am fond of books by Steve Jenkins.  His cut paper collage never ceases to amaze me in it's detail and beauty.  And when you add his skill to a topic as fascinating and diverse as that of beetles you end up with a book that it is easy to pore over looking at every detail.  Jenkins does a nice job of picking out some of the most interesting of the more than 300,000 different types of beetles in the world and highlighting the features that make them similar and yet very different.  This is a book that young insect lovers are bound to devour and then devour again just to look at all the details.


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