________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 10. . . .November 9, 2012


It's Our Nature.

Rebeca Orozco. Illustrated by Menena Cottin. Translated by Tamara Sztainbok.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2012.
24 pp., hardcover, $14.99.
ISBN 978-1-77049-283-7.

Subject Heading:
Animals-Juvenile literature.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Aileen Wortley.

*** /4



We have a lot in common with animals. We experience love, pain, happiness, and sorrow. Animals do too. We share these feelings and others as well. But animals could show us a thing or two about responsibility, community, generosity, and tolerance.

Howler Monkey
          In the canopy of a tree, the howler monkey hangs from a branch. Hearing the steps of a jaguar on the undergrowth, he floods the forest with howling to frighten the intruder. When the jaguar does not turn back, the howler monkey changes the volume of his call to alert his troop to the danger. The howler monkey chooses to save his companions before himself.


In this picture book for children aged 5-8, originally written in Spanish, readers are introduced to a variety of animal adaptive behaviours. The majority of examples relate to the protection of animal young, using such descriptors as "community", "selflessness," " altruism," "solidarity," "trust" etc. Flamingoes that cooperate to look after their offspring, octopi selflessly protecting their eggs, baby crocodiles using their mother's mouth as a place of refuge and male penguins protecting each other and their eggs from the bitter cold are a few examples of these intriguing behaviours.

     The text, by award-winning author Rebeca Orozco, is clear, concise and bound to engage the interest of young readers who would be unaware that ascribing human attributes to animals is rather over-simplistic in this context. The information is presented in large readable print, making it accessible and easy to absorb. Some elaboration in the preface as to the survival imperative in general would have focussed the examples and given a more scientific approach.

There is a nice balance in layout between text and artwork. The graphic, stylized, almost stark illustrations, by award-winning illustrator Menena Cottin, use a limited range of soft colours, but each picture has its own appeal. The poster on the reverse of the book-cover is an attractive bonus.

      Overall, It's Our Nature is an appealing, readable book for young children on a topic that always fascinates and will make a satisfactory addition to most library and individual collections.

Recommended with reservations.

Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian living in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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