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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Do You Know Porcupines? Written by Alain M. Bergeron, Michel Quintin and Sampar. Illustrated by Sampar. Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013. $9.95 ages 8 and up

To find out if a female is ready to mate, a North American porcupine will advance near her while grunting, stand on its hind legs and spray her with a powerful jet of urine.
I think I made myself
perfectly clear...
If she's ready to mate, she'll let herself get completely drenched by the pee,  otherwise, she'll forcefully shake it all off."

In this case, a well dressed female porcupine hoists an umbrella to protect her from the advances of the equally dapper, flower bearing male. It made me laugh out loud. Although one prior to this made me laugh even harder. When we learn that porcupines love salt and will gnaw at anything salty or sweaty, you have to see the baseball-capped young 'un licking away at a jockstrap that he has taken out of a discarded hockey bag! 

I shared this new addition to the Do You Know? series with a large group of teachers last Friday and it set off a host of giggles and a few EWWWs. Ah, well....I thought it was funny, and you and I know the kids who are going to love it while learning a bunch of new facts for this oft-maligned critter.

Each book in the series (and I just received new books about rats, leeches and crows) has only one main subject. Most of them give us pause for a variety of reasons, but all are fascinating for those young readers who want to know more about specific species, not in a totally scientific way. It's the humor that will attract those readers every time. The facts given are often a bit obscure, and they share the double page spreads with offbeat and whimsical illustrations that are sure to attract attention and have readers returning for a reread. They certainly help cement the fact being depicted.

As with the earlier books, this one and its companions are written in language that can be simple to a bit more sophisticated. They are sure to answer questions that young scientists didn't know they had, and they will  pique curiosity about some of our more familiar creatures. A glossary and index are helpful.
Just in case you didn't know:

"Many people mistakenly think that porcupines can throw their quills. In fact, the quills are so lightly attached to their bodies that they fall off during contact. When porcupines whip their tails around, for example, quills can become loose and give the impression that they are being thrown."

Now, you know!

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