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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Best Foot Forward, written by Ingo Arndt and translated by J. Alison James. Holiday House, Thomas Allen & Son. 2007. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"Animals have very different feet depending on whether they are big or small, go fast or slow, or travel on the ground, in water, or high in the tops of trees...With this foot, the long-horned beetle can climb tree trunks and branches. The hairs on the underside of the foot keep it from slipping off."

On the deep black background of the very first page, children (and their adults)  are invited to begin a guessing game that will introduce them to the animal kingdom from a totally unique and engaging perspective. The question is asked: Whose foot is this?

The answer is given once the page is turned. The text on the left describes the animal whose foot was photographed, and a few short informative paragraphs. On the facing page, four boxes show four other animals who have 'feet that walk', or 'feet that climb', or feet that swim' and so on...

Young readers get a close-up opportunity to really check out the bottoms of the feet in question, and to think about why they are fashioned in the way that they are. As they learn more about the animals who share the same need for feet, children will be fascinated by the details shared. I  know that I was.

The clear, bright photographs are sure to hold attention and encourage discussion. The facts shared are quickly read and purposeful in helping them understand the particulars of putting the 'best foot forward'.:

"The mole's feet are like strong shovels with long, flat claws. They are perfect for digging long tunnels under the ground."


"This beautiful spotted foot belongs to the red-footed tortoise, which lives in the Amazon rain forest in South America. A female digs a nest for her eggs deep in the moist soil."

An index takes you quickly back to each of the animals included. To end on a humorous and telling note, Ingo Arndt has chosen to add his own foot to the fun. Guess what little ones who read this book with you will be doing as soon as the sharing is done! Get your own socks off and check it out with them. It might add a new page to the family photo album...

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