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Monday, February 12, 2018

Rodent Rascals: From Tiny to Tremendous - 21 Clever Creatures at Their Actual Size. Written and illustrated by Roxie Munro. Holiday House, Thomas Allen & Son. 2018. $25.99 ages 8 and up

"Chinchillas have soft fur so dense that water can't dry fast enough to prevent the growth of fungus. Instead of washing in water they take dust baths, rolling around in dust. The dust absorbs oil and dirt from their fur. Though they look chubby and not very athletic, they can jump up to 6 feet high ... "

Kids will be poring over the information provided in this impressive new book by a respected and well-known author. Roxie Munro has written over forty concept and nonfiction books that have the power to attract and fully engage her young audience.

As you can see on the cover, there are 21 rodents described here. Each one is shown in actual size, whether you can see the whole animal or only part of it. She begins with the smallest:

"The tiny pygmy jerboa is the world's smallest rodent. They live in a desert habitat. It has such strong legs that it can jump up to 10 feet (3 meters), many times its length. They're as speedy as a fast human. Their quickness inspired Great Britain to name one of its World War II troop brigades in Northern Africa, where jerboas live, the Desert Rats."

She goes on to describe, in similar sized entries, a host of animals that run the gamut from the jerboa to - can you guess the largest one? 

"This sweet-looking capybara is the largest rodent in the world. It lives in South America and is a gentle and friendly creature. It is a herbivore. It can be kept as a pet and has reportedly been trained as a seeing-eye guide animal for the blind. Capybaras are very social and live in large groups. They're quite vocal and can make sounds similar to a dog's bark, a horse's whinny, and a cat's purr. Capybaras love water, and as you can see, their eyes, ears, and nose are high up on their head, so they can stay almost totally submerged while swimming."

With just enough text to keep readers interested and learning, this book will find avid fans. Readers will recognize many of those depicted, although they may not know how they stack up one to the other in size within the rodent family. Natural and distinct, Ms. Munro's  illustrations are sure to impress. The way she relates her animals to the text is perfect for helping readers retain what they want to share with others.

Did you know that the prairie dog has a vocabulary more complex than any other animal language?

Or that the African giant pouched rat can detect tuberculosis?

Or that many guinea pigs have a 'washcloth' (bald spot) on their front paws to help with grooming?

I didn't, but now I do! Thanks to Roxie Munro for that and so much more!

Endpapers (with images of the rodents described herein), an introduction, and back matter that includes a further informative paragraph about each animal, a glossary, sources, and an extended list of websites and an index make this perfect nonfiction fare.

Please enjoy this conversation between Ms. Munro and the dapper and well-prepared Julian, a child reporter.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much, Sal! What a wonderful and attentive review! Means a lot to me, coming from a teacher-librarian and book person like you. I had a lot of fun making the book, and fell in love with my furry (for the most part - naked mole rat and porcupine aside) critters. ;-)))