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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Animals Upside Down, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Thomas Allen & Son. 2013. $27.99 ages 4 and up

"The armored pangolin coils
its tail around a branch,
reaches out with powerful claws...
...and rips open a termite nest.
It will slurp up the insects with
its long, sticky tongue.
A net-casting spider dangles.
holding its web by the corners.
When an unwary insect passes
below, the spider thrusts a  silken
net over its victim."

Yes, I have sung their praises before today, and not too long ago it seems. Adding to the already stellar list of books they have created to entertain and enlighten children, Robin Page and Steve Jenkins bring a selection of 26 animals to our attention. It seems each likes to turn or hang themselves upside down for a wide variety of reasons. The blood rushes to my head just thinking about it!

They use pop-ups, wheels, flips and pull tabs to help us understand what is so special about life in such a state. You  know about the pangolin and the net-casting spider. That is only a taste of what is included in these detailed, fact-filled pages. They come from  all over the world, and their antics are of great interest. Their acrobatics are sure to entice. It is a lively collection.

The design changes on every page, and assures return engagements with the animals included here. While you move from forest to ocean, and from ceilings to ponds, you will learn a great deal about why birds and animals find themselves looking at the world from an entirely different perspective than most of their species.

The hog-nosed snake has quite the ritual:

"The hog-nosed snake puts on quite a show if it feels threatened. (Flip the flap and...)
It flops over, sticks out its tongue, and lies still.
An unpleasant smelling liquid seeps from its rear end.
Sometimes a little blood even trickles out of its mouth."

It certainly sends a message.

Steve Jenkins astounds with his accurate cut and torn paper collage images. The captions add to the interest as they curve and wobble, always capturing the movement of the animal they are describing.
There is further information added as the book closes, concerning habitat, size and sustenance.

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