Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Who was here: Discovering Wild Animal Tracks

Who was here: Discovering Wild Animal Tracks

Mia Posada
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Lerner, 2014   ISBN: 978-1467718714

We are walking along a riverbank when we see large animal footprints in the mud. We can see that the animal has one big pad and five small ones, and there are claw marks as well. The animal is clearly heavy because the footprints are deep. What kind of animal could have made such prints? It turns out that these are the paw prints of a black bear, an animal that can weigh up to 400 pounds and that can be as tall as a man when it stands on its hind legs. It is not surprising that we saw the paw marks on the riverbank because these bears like to catch fish in rivers and streams.

   Now we are walking in a wood on a moonlit night. There is snow on the ground and we come across the paw prints of a hunter, an animal that is “chasing its prey, teeth bared in attack.” Nearby are the large prints of the prey animal. We can tell that this creature has hooves and it too was running. The prints tell the story of a wolf pursuing a moose. Wolves can travel as far as 25 miles a night to hunt for food. They would need to be careful about trying to catch a full grown moose because moose are powerful and they will “use their strong hooves to defend themselves.”

   In this beautiful book watercolor and collage illustrations are paired with poems and prose to introduce children to some fascinating animal species. For each species they are first show a hoof, a paw print, or a track, and they are asked “Who was here?” The poem that is paired with the animal tracks provides clues that children can use to solve the puzzle. The answer follows on the next page with a picture showing the animal that made the tracks. We are also given some text full of interesting information about the animal in question.

   At the back of the book the author tells children how to be an “animal track detective,” giving her readers tips and tricks that they can use to identify birds and animals that inhabit their world.