CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 33. . . .April 30, 2010.
Baby Raccoons. (It’s Fun to Learn About Baby Animals).
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2010.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $7.95 (pbk.), $18.36 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3982-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3963-0 (RLB.).
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Renée Englot.
Raccoon mothers give birth to one litter of babies a year. A litter is two or more babies that are born to a mother at the same time. Raccoon litters have three to four babies, but some mothers have as many as seven kits. The kits are tiny. They have only a thin layer of fur, and they cannot see or hear. As soon as they are born, the kits start nursing.
Baby Raccoons is part of the “It’s Fun to Learn about Baby Animals” series by Bobbie Kalman. Other titles in the series feature apes, bear, birds, bunnies, cats, deer, elephants, foxes, giraffes, horses, pigs, and reptiles plus Caterpillars to Butterfiles, Tadpoles to Frogs and Wild and Pet Puppies. All are structured similarly and offer consistent quality.
This hardcover book is nicely packaged. A full colour photograph of a raccoon fills the front cover. A table of contents helps readers to navigate. An index is also included. Each two-page spread covers a single topic that has a title headline, and one or two paragraphs of text expand upon the title. There are two to five colour photographs per spread, occasionally supplemented by drawings. Most of the photographs are captioned, elaborating on the theme of the spread.
This book covers a wide range of topics related to baby raccoons. In fact, the book is more about raccoons in general than baby raccoons specifically. Raccoons are identified as members of the mammal family with some definition of what it means to be a mammal. Readers are introduced to the family of animals to which raccoons belong. Raccoons’ bodies are described along with an explanation of vertebrates and a description of the senses of a raccoon. Raccoon babies and the life cycle of a raccoon are afforded a two-page spread. Juvenile kits also get a two-page spread. Raccoon habitats, eating habits and adaptations are covered along with brief descriptions of communication and interaction with humans. Of particular interest is the debate about whether red pandas are part of the same family as raccoons.
Baby Raccoons will serve as a great introduction for young readers wishing to learn more about raccoons. Attractively presented, it is also easy to read. Bold words are well defined in context. The text is brief enough that it does not overwhelm. The brief text, combined with adequate use of white space and bright, attractive photographs, helps to keep independent readers from feeling overwhelmed. And despite the text’s brevity, readers will learn something about raccoons.
Those who choose to read multiple selections from the baby animals series will encounter the same information presented over and over. Key words, such as mammal, life cycle, habitat, camouflage, vertebrate, warm and cold blooded, litter and nursing, are covered in many books, sometimes with the exact same words. However, for young learners, repetition isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Renée Englot is a former junior high school teacher now working as a professional storyteller in school settings. She holds a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature.
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