Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

It's Our Nature

It's Our Nature

Rebeca Orozco
Illustrator:  Menena Cottin 
For ages 7 to 9
Tundra Books, 2012   ISBN: 978-1770492837

Anyone who has spent time with pet dogs, cats, rodents and birds, knows that animals can experience fear, worry, love, joy, and many other emotions. They can be afraid of storms and are thrilled when their people come home after an absence. They are happy when someone plays with them or cuddles them. What some people don’t realize is that animals, even wild ones, can also be altruistic, devoted, trustworthy, community minded, responsible and generous. In short, they can teach us far-from-perfect humans a thing or two.

   The first animal that we meet in this book is the howler monkey. When one of the monkeys in a troop sees a jaguar approaching, it tries to scare off the big cat by howling it at. If the animal does not back down, the howler will stand its ground and send out a different call to warn the other animals in the troop that a predator is in the area, risking its own life so that its friends and family members can get to safety.

   Parents know all too well how exhausting it is looking after young children. Though flamingoes only have one chick at a time, the parents still get worn out taking care of it. When they need a break, they take their chick to a part of the lake where a group of flamingoes work together to create a kind of flamingo chick day care. The adults take it in turns to provide this service so that all the parents get the opportunity to rest for a little while.

   Humans may think that they are the best when it comes to providing parental care, but female octopi are committed mothers. They lay over a thousand eggs in an underwater cave and then they guard the cave for three months, never leaving the eggs to eat, even if food is nearby. The mothers eventually die from weakness around the time when their baby octopi hatch.

   Mothers are not the only ones who take care of eggs and babies. A father Emperor penguin takes care of his newly laid egg but keeping it safe and warm on his feet. The penguin cannot properly move, but can only shuffle about. When the wind picks up or during a storm, all the father penguins gather in a circle with their backs to the cold, taking it in turns to move from the cold outer rim of the circle to the warm and protected center.

   Throughout this book informative sections of text are paired with Menena Cottin’s memorable and evocative illustrations to give young readers a sense of the way in which animals live together and get along during good times and bad.