Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?

Steve Jenkins, Robin Page
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Houghton Mifflin, 2003   ISBN: 978-0618256280

Children of all ages love picture puzzles. You can cover a part of an image and they will have a grand time trying to figure out what the picture shows. Is that piece of wood part of a table or a chair? Is that delicate pink thing a flower’s petal or a bird’s wing?

   In this extraordinary award winning picture book Steve Jenkins and Robin Page present readers with images showing just a part of an animal. Children are invited to guess what kind of animal the parts belong to.

   On the first spread we see five very different kinds of noses. Two of them are rather easy to identify. That curling grey nose must belong to an elephant, and the brown snout with the black nose and whiskers looks like it might belong to some kind a dog. Who do the other noses belong to? When we turn the page we find out that we were right about the elephant, and the dog-like nose belongs to hyena, which uses its sensitive nose to find its next meal. The strange duck-like bill we saw on the spread belongs to a platypus, and the other two noses we saw belong to an alligator and a mole. There are pictures to show us what the whole animals look like, and little notes next to them tell us how these noses help the animals to survive in their environment.

   In all there are six spreads with pictures of curious looking animal noses, ears, tails, eyes, feet, and mouths, and six spreads identifying the animals these features belong to. At the back of the book readers will find more notes about the thirty animal species mentioned in the book. Readers will learn about species of birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, mammals, and arthropods.

   The cut paper collage artwork in the book is truly astounding. Each animal is shown in great detail, rich with colors and textures. The book can be enjoyed on several levels. Little children will relish trying to guess the identities of the animals and will spend time looking at the pictures, while older children will also like learning interesting facts about the animals that we see on the pages.