Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Now You See Them, Now You Don't: Poems About Creatures that Hide

Now You See Them, Now You Don't: Poems About Creatures that Hide

David L. Harrison
Illustrator:  Giles Laroche 
Poetry nonfiction picture book
For ages 6 to 8
Charlesbridge, 2016   ISBN: 978-1580896108

For millennia animals have been using camouflage to help them hide from predators, prey, or both. Being able to camouflage their appearance has given mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and other animals the ability to survive, an ability that they have passed on to their decedents.

In this stunning book, cut-paper relief illustrations are paired with nineteen poems, each one of which explores how camouflage helps an animal species to be successful. We travel from beaches to polar climes, from forests to swamps, from meadows to jungles. Some of the species are large and impressive, while others are very small, but are still worthy of our respect and interest.

We begin on a sandy beach where a ghost crab blends in perfectly with its environment. When danger threatens, the little crustacean freezes and waits until it is safe to “scurry, hide, / dig, hole, /dive, inside.” With its sand colored shell and appendages, the crab can hide in plain sight if it has to.

The octopus is a master of disguise. It can change the color of its skin to blend in with its surroundings. This ability helps it to hide from a passing fish that is looking for a meal, or so that it can grab passing prey in its “sucker arms.”

In a swamp or marshland, alligators float in the water with only their snouts and backs showing. The alligator waits, for all the world looking like a log or piece of debris. What potential prey animals don’t know is that “Hidden where / they never show,/ are teeth / and teeth / and teeth below.”

When you see a tiger in a zoo you cannot imagine that its bold stripes are actually a wonderful form of camouflage, but in its native habitat where there are “Dappled shadows, / waving grasses,” a tiger’s stripes allow it to blend in beautifully. From where it waits the tiger can watch and when the time is right it will attack like “striped lightning.”

At the back of the book readers will find further information about all the species featured in the book.

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