CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 20. . . . June 6, 2003
Some animals fake it. They don't have a poisonous bite or sting. They try to hide. But when something gets too close, these showoffs suddenly try to look big and fierce. If the attacker is surprised, the showoff gets away. If the attacker isn't fooled, the showoff is dinner.
The Australian frilled lizard makes itself look scary by opening up a wide flap of skin like an umbrella.
The blue-tongued skink startles its enemies by sticking out its huge tongue.
Lavishly illustrated with Ron Broda's trademark paper sculptures, Why Animals Show Off, by the science writer team of Peter Cook and Laura Suzuki, presents glimpses of the variety of ways animals use color and action - showing off - as defense strategies. Some creatures warn predators of their poisonous nature with bold color; others use it as a distraction to allow escape. Some change their shape or size to startle. Color can camouflage or help identify a mate. Even humans show off with colorful costumes.
The brief text, written in lively, kid-friendly style, has a narrow focus. Small chunks of information will be easily understood. Large print will attract young readers, as will the bold and active 3-dimensional illustrations that dominate the double-page spreads. The tiger amid long grass, the salmon run, and the incredibly life-like bird species are superb examples of the effectiveness of the paper sculpture technique.
A detailed guide to the illustrations occupies a full page at the beginning. While the identification information is of value, the need to flip back and forth between illustrations and guide is inconvenient and somewhat confusing, especially for the page showing over a dozen butterflies in a random design. However, this slim volume is a useful introduction to an amazing aspect of nature.
A resident of BC, Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer and former teacher-librarian.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.