________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 15 . . . . March 28, 2003


Animals and Their Young: How Animals Produce and Care for Their Babies. (Animal Behaviour).

Pamela Hickman. Illustrated by Pat Stephens.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2003.
40 pp., pbk. & cl., $6.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-55337-062-7 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55337-061-9 (cl.).

Subject Headings:
Parental behavior in animals-Juvenile literature.
Animals-Infancy-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

*** /4


Parents of altricial, or helpless, babies often hide them in burrows, nests or thickets to avoid enemies. The altricial young of predators, such as bobcats, soon outgrow their hiding places, but they are still in danger of attack from other predators, such as owls or wolves. When bobcat kits are threatened, their parents defend them with their sharp claws and teeth. A black bear mother teaches her cubs to quickly climb the nearest tree when in danger, while she stays to fight.

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Animals and Their Young describes the various ways animals produce and care for their offspring. The animal families are compared to the human situation, basing the similarities and differences on experiences to which young readers can easily relate: "Do you ever stay with a babysitter? Many animals leave their babies with other adults while they find food." The examples are chosen from around the world and include egg-laying birds, fish and reptiles, and mammals (egg-laying, marsupial and placental).

     The book includes an “Introduction” and five sections. Each section opens with a double-page spread showing an animal with young. The accompanying insert titled, "If you were a ...," lists concepts that are the focus of the following pages of that section. The sections cover topics such as incubation methods and locations for eggs and how placental young develop in land-based and water-based mammals: "Baby sloths are born while their mothers hang upside down from trees...." Description is included of babies born defenseless, and those that become independent in a short time, how different parents care for their young, and the teaching of skills required for their survival. Inserts offer interesting facts: "Quadruplets, or four babies born at once, are very rare for humans, but not for the nine-banded armadillo...." There is no glossary, but challenging terms, such as “precocial” and “altricial,” are well explained in context using clear language with some complex sentences suitable for the intended audience. The index will assist young researchers: there is one typo, placentas instead of the term placentals that is used in the text.

     Illustrator Pat Stephens has contributed to several titles in this series with large, softly-colored, functional drawings showing closeups of the animals in various “child-rearing” activities. The large drawings introducing each section of the book extend off the page. Not all illustrations are captioned; rather, many are simply labelled and arranged on the page to complement the text facts.

     The series title, “Animal Behaviour,” is not mentioned anywhere in the book, nor is a list of additional titles provided. Librarians might appreciate this information if they wish to acquire a complete set of these useful information books. Natural-science writer Pamela Hickman has authored several titles in the series.


Gillian Richardson, who lives in BC, is a freelance writer and former teacher-librarian.


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

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