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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Lesser Spotted Animals: The Coolest Creatures You've Never Heard Of, by Martin Brown. Scholastic, 2017. $24.99 ages 8 and up

"That award goes to the zorilla, a weasel-like carnivore that, although similar-looking, is only distantly related to skunks. And although skunks might be able to pack a punch with their powerful fumes, it's a relatively local stink. The stench delivered by the zorilla is even more potent and can be smelled nearly a mile away."

Who knew? Obviously, Martin Brown took it upon himself to do a brilliant job of research and gathered together this truly amazing group of animals for our education and entertainment.

"It's time for a book that's different - without the same ho-hum, run-of-the-mill creatures we're served day in, day out. No pandas, elephants, or zebras here - this is a book about the world's other animals."

Indeed, it is! There are 21 'lesser spotted' animals described in this beautifully designed and illustrated book  Each entry contains a descriptive heading, a humorous accounting for the creature exposed, and an information box that includes size, what they eat, where they live, status, and an extra tidbit of intriguing and unique information.

 Each new entry is full of fun, facts, and a truly enjoyable narrative voice. I found myself smiling at each turn of the page, while also filling my head with brand new learning. It could not have been easy to gather the data. Mr. Brown makes mention of that in his entry about the silvery gibbon whose population has dropped to 2000, due to shrinking habitat and people wanting them as pets.

"There are fifteen or more different types of gibbons and some of those different types are divided into even more varieties. That's what makes finding out about some animals so difficult. Even though somewhere there might be something that's familiar or famous, a similar type of beastie from over the hill could be utterly unheard of."

When we have the opportunity to share such a wonderfully crafted book, we tend to forget the hard work done to bring it to us. Adding to the humor that infuses its pages, the artwork includes thumbnails that compare one animal to another. The expressive faces (especially the eyes) range from disdain, bashful, wary, to anger, fright, hurt, boredom. They are, perhaps, not pleased with the attention given them after lives of relative obscurity. Kids are going to love hearing their stories, though ... I am sure you will read it more than once. The added benefit is that it provides opportunities for discussion concerning animals and the environment, and how we can continue to protect it.

There must be more creatures on the list of  'lesser spotted', Mr. Brown. Can you tell us about them, too?


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