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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Animal Dads, written by Sneed Collard III and illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Houghton, Thomas Allen, 1997. $8.95 ages 6 and up

"They feed us.

Beavers are famous for cutting
down trees to build dams and
lodges. Beaver dads also cut down
trees for another reason. When
beaver babies stop drinking
mother's milk, Dad chops down
trees so the babies can eat meals
of fresh, tender bark."

Sneed Collard has chosen the animal kingdom to find 'dads' who do many things. A single sentence introduces their fatherly dutues. Then, the author goes on to tell us about a particular creature, and how it works to provide for its young. The jobs are varied and endearing.

I am always intrigued to learn of animals that I know little about...the vole, for instance. What I know about them is that they like to tunnel under snowbanks in the winter and create pathways through my grass. One spring, I was surprised to find a 'vile vole village' right under my front window. It didn't take long for it to disappear, thank goodness...and they have never returned. I guess they didn't like the ire I showed when I saw those tunnels. Now, I discover that vole dads share all duties in raising their young. They dig nests and tunnels (I don't mind so much if they were caring for their babies), cuddle and keep the babies warm and clean them when they are dirty. Ahhh!

Steve Jenkins' paper-cut collages are always an inspiration. He fills the double-page spreads with brilliant color and detail. The handmade papers add texture and depth. I am so pleased to have this book reissued in time for celebrating fathers in June.

Finally, I will share Sneed Collard's informational paragraph about the Megapode:

"Megapodes don't incubate their eggs by sitting on them. Instead, many megapode dads build large mounds of leaves and soil for Mom to lay her eggs in. As the leaves in the mound rot they give off heat, which incubates the megapode's eggs. Mom leaves after she lays the eggs, but Dad sticks around. He turns the leaves over and moves them around to make sure the eggs remain at just the right temperature until they hatch." IMAGINE!

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