Colorful Critters

If you were to ask a roomful of students to play a word association game using the primary, red, blue, and yellow, and secondary, orange, green and violet, colors, will all their answers be the same? Based upon their ages, past experiences and thinking processes certainly some answers will be identical.  For the same reasons many will be different.  Colors are attached to some powerful memories.

If you were to throw out a shade made when adding white to a primary color such as pink, what will they say?  Does pink remind them of cotton candy, cherry blossoms, roses, candy or cupcakes, flamingos, pigs or tongues?  I'll bet not a single one would reply with the title of this new book, Pink Is For Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals (The World of Weird Animals series) (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, February 2, 2016).  Zoologist Jess Keating (How To Outrun A Crocodile When Your Shoes Are UntiedHow To Outswim A Shark Without A Snorkel, and How To Outfox Your Friends When You Don't Have A Clue) has authored one of the most captivating and fun nonfiction books of 2016.

Think you know PINK?
Think again...

Seventeen of the animal kingdom's most interesting, sometimes rarely seen and PINK creatures are presented to readers.  The title fish, Blobfish, is known for floating in the ocean waiting patiently for food to pass by so it can be swallowed into their mouths.  It will be easily spotted as it can grow to a foot long.  Coming in at half the size, but still too big for some people is a hairy Pinktoe Tarantula.  I would avoid the hairs for reasons explained and you won't believe the color of these eight-legged creatures when they are tiny tykes.

There are insects masquerading as flowers, camera-shy, inch-long coral residents, and birds nearly made extinct due to the demand for their feathers.  If you happen to be boating in the fresh water rivers of South America, you might catch a glimpse of a pod of Amazon River Dolphins rounding up their next meal working as a team to move a group of fish toward shore.  A mention of a butt plate, negatively phototaxic and hermaphroditic will definitely up the intrigue factor.

They might be naked but Naked Mole Rats could give above-ground architects a few lessons.  Their homes have rooms for specific uses. The gross meter might break when readers discover an animal that extends their stomach through their mouth to eat. Pink sun tan oil and a double dose of mucus are prime methods of protection by two beings that differ greatly in size.

On a single location in the Galapagos Islands, Southeast Asia, in the forests of South America and among coral reefs near Indonesia four more pink occupants of our planet are found walking, creeping, swinging, and clinging.  Five continents are visited in tribute to those beings in which we share our space.  It's a fascinating feast for our minds and eyes.

With the expertise of her profession and knowledge of her audience Jess Keating breaks the narrative portion for each animal into three sections.  (All of the text is placed on the right page.)  At the top she entices us with basic but unbelievable items, moves toward riveting details which could only come from extensive research and completely hooks us with specifics in a column on the side.  She includes the name, scientific name, size, diet, habitat and predators and threats.   I wonder if others will draw the same conclusion I did from reading the predators and threats paragraphs.

We are compelled to turn page after page without stopping by the writing style of Keating.  She does not avoid particulars but presents them in a conversational manner with a great deal of wit delivered with respect.  What she chooses to disclose will be hard to forget.  Here is the text from one of the second sections.

#1 Dad
In most animal species, it is usually the female who becomes pregnant and gives birth.  But seahorses don't care about tradition.  Instead, male seahorses become pregnant and carry the eggs in a pouch on their bellies until they hatch.  If that isn't enough to earn them the Dad of the Year Award, they also keep the eggs clean and protect them from predators.

For each animal a full color representation is supplied on the left within an irregular shape. (Credits for these are supplied at the beginning of the book.)  Cartoonist David DeGrand has drawn comic images for each animal which are part of the narrative display on the right.  We are shown a crown-wearing and scepter-carrying blobfish, a spoonbill gobbling down shrimp from a take-out box, a dolphin ready to lasso a school of fish and a trio of mole rats hard at work.  Each one are more than worthy of grins and I guarantee you will laugh out loud at least once. One of my favorite pictures is of the sun-bathing, happy hippopotamus comfortably seated on a striped towel enjoying a book. 

Multiple copies of Pink Is For Blobfish: Discovering the World's Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with cartoons by David DeGrand is a must for your professional and personal shelves.  Everyone will want to read this repeatedly and immediately without wanting or waiting to share. It's a passel of PINK personalities with pizzazz.  A world map showing animal locations, a glossary of words in bold within the text, a suggested bibliography and cool hints at careers are supplied at the close of the book.

Please follow the links attached to Jess Keating's and David DeGrand's names to access their individual websites to learn more about them and their work.  You can see some of the interior portions of the book by visiting the publisher's website.  The book trailer was premiered at Scholastic's Ambassador for School Libraries John Schumacher's blog, Watch. Connect. Read. Jess Keating is interviewed on the Let's Get Busy, Episode #231 podcast.  Stand-on-a-desk-and-shout-I-love-reading educator Colby Sharp interviews Jess Keating on his blog, sharpread.  Design of the Picture Book celebrates this title.  Jess Keating has a collection of videos on YouTube, Animals for Smart People.  You can follow Jess Keating on Twitter at @Jess_Keating

Please stop by Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to enjoy the other titles selected by bloggers this week participating in the 2016 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge.

No comments:

Post a Comment