Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Orangutans Are Ticklish: Fun Facts from an Animal Photographer

Orangutans Are Ticklish: Fun Facts from an Animal Photographer

Steve Grubman, Jill Davis
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Random House, 2010   ISBN: 978-0375858864

Steve Grubman is a photographer who has traveled the world to take pictures of animals. He also takes pictures of animals in his studio in Chicago. For these indoor sessions Steve, his assistants, and the animal handlers who help with the shoots work very hard to make sure that the animals they bring in to the studio are happy and relaxed. They also make sure that Steve has an escape route when they are working with a potentially dangerous animal.

  For this book Steve Grubman took photos of thirteen animals, beautifully capturing the distinct nature of each creature. His photos are paired with simply written, fact-packed sections of text which will help readers to get to know a little about the animals we meet on the pages.

   The first animal we meet is an aardvark, a nocturnal creature that uses its long ears to listen for predators and the digging activities of ant and termites, which it loves to eat. The aardvark’s wrinkled skin may not be attractive, but it does protect the animal from “dusty dirt and annoying insects.”

  Further on in the book we see a grizzly bear and we are told that these enormous bears make a lot of grunting, roaring, jaw clacking, moaning, and blowing noises. One might think that these noises indicate that the bear is angry, but in fact they are bluster noises, which bears make when they are afraid. Grizzlies get their name from the grizzled fur that grown on the hump between their shoulders.

   The combination of the photos and the informative text will give readers a special book experience, but what makes the book unique is that Steve adds little comments of his own on every spread, describing what it was like to photograph the animals we are seeing. The tiger got away from its handlers and Steve had to make a run for it. Steve and the orangutan danced, and the giraffes kept rubbing their heads against Steve and his camera.

   At the back of the book we find “More Fun Facts” about the animals featured in the book, and more photos.