People Are Wild

Knopf. Mar. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593301944.
PreS-Gr 1–Until very recently, humans saw themselves as above other species, in a position to observe and analyze their behaviors and lives, as scientists or as tourists. This easy-to-read book turns this notion on its head as a variety of mother animals and their children comment upon human behavior. The mother creatures warn their offspring not to get close to humans because they are “loud,” “messy,” and “smelly.” The animal children see their similarities with people, stating that people are “funny,” “cuddly,” and “cute.” The story ends with a baby elephant asking to keep a young child. Her mother refuses, saying that “all wild creatures should be free.” Among the 14 animals featured are Iberian lynxes, Parson’s chameleons, giraffes, Asiatic black bears, and Monarch butterflies; the end pages include an informational paragraph with intriguing facts about each as well as a map indicating where the creatures live (unfortunately, there is no informational paragraph for the beautiful large white birds, perhaps Marabou storks, found at the beginning of the book). Meganck’s colorful illustrations are the highlight, even though such human and animal interactions would never occur in the wild. The expressions on the human children are delightful, exuding joy and curiosity, and the animal expressions range from concerned to calm. The simple text will be accessible to emerging readers.
VERDICT This early reader book will appeal to children who love animals and provides a perspective missing from shelves on the animal kingdom. A welcome addition.

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