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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Animal Playtime, written by Caroline Bingham and Fleur Star. DK, Tourmaline Editions. 2011. $13.99 ages 4 and up

"What's your favorite time of day? Playtime! Animals like to play, too - but for them, it means more than just having fun. They learn all kinds of important skills through playing."

Animals are just like children when it comes to play! It's how they learn about making friends, running, chasing, climbing and getting themselves from one place to another.

As each new animal becomes the focus of attention, young readers have the opportunity to gather information about them. They may already have some stored knowledge and this will just add to that. Plus, they will enjoy the many photographs that accompany the short bits of text. A hamster holding on for dear life to a ladder rung, or tucked inside a tiny tube will have them 'aahing' as they turn to the next page which features cuddly, inquisitive, playful kittens. On to puppies, then lambs and on it goes.

Each new double page spread brings fun and great delight in watching the many animals, their antics and it also adds vocabulary that may or may not be new to the reading child. There are captions, humorous speech bubbles, and an explanatory sentence at the bottom of each page. 

The writing is personal, as if the author is talking directly to the reader:

"Dolphins are smart. Just like you, they enjoy doing different things so they don't get bored. They play with seaweed, chase turtles, and play-fight with other dolphins."

There is much to learn about the animals of the world here, and as with all great nonfiction, it captures attention while providing new learning. A table of contents, a glossary and an index add to the appeal and help emerging readers discover some of the real pleasures of informational text.

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