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Monday, July 11, 2016

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Raincoast. 2016. $25.99 ages 5 and up

"A Rolling Spider?

A Moroccan desert spider "flic-flacs" - turns flips across the sand dunes - to escape predators.

For most animals, turning end over end is not an efficient way to get around. But for some creatures ... "

So, how do living creatures get around? If you have ever asked yourself that question, you are thinking in similar ways to Steve Jenkins and his wife Robin Page. I know they do a lot of thinking about things scientific and fascinating. We are so lucky that they do, as their wonderings continue to result in terrific books of nonfiction that are eagerly shared with kids.

In their newest book they again turn the spotlight on a wide variety of animals. Some you will quickly recognize, others may be new to you. In each section they discuss the particular way that a group of specific animals moves from one place to another - walk, leap, swim, climb, fly and a host of other variations. The first section is the walking one. On the first spread we learn that the common octopus walks along the sea floor (I knew that!). On the second spread we learn about animals that tiptoe, stroll, waddle, and march. Each new section consists of two double page spreads, one introducing and one expanding the variety of animals who move in such a way.

As always, the art focuses on the animals. Torn and cut-paper collage is a brilliant medium to show each one clearly. Earthy tones and expanses of white space allow young readers to see the many details of the animal itself and get a strong notion for the way its body gets from one place to another. The names are presented in bold font, and captions provide a brief explanation for their movements. I love the use of verbs for describing those many movements.

Adding further facts following the main text is trademark to this team's collaborations and make their books even more appealing. They include a bibliography to show young writers how important it is to do research when wanting to write factual text. Diversity in the creatures presented helps to distinguish the Jenkins-Page books from other exemplary nonfiction - kids love them and are delighted with how much they learn when reading and sharing them.

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