Wildlife Wonders | Animals Series Nonfiction

The majority of this season’s animal titles include several straightforward overviews, ranging from puppies and bugs to big cats and dinosaurs. From a collection development standpoint, animal profiles can fill subject holes and address student assignment needs, with the best ones drawing in independent readers as well.

The majority of this season’s animal titles include several straightforward overviews, ranging from puppies and bugs to big cats and dinosaurs. From a collection development standpoint, animal profiles can fill subject holes and address student assignment needs, with the best ones drawing in independent readers as well. Other series examine various animals in terms of common behaviors, including invasive species and animal caregivers. These can broaden the scope of an animal collection and engage readers’ curiosity. A few series mix in light humor with the facts, using a playful narrative tone, cartoonish illustrations, or both. A couple of sets offer extra features for readers via QR codes or web links. The varied scope and styles of the dozen series below provide students and casual browsers with plenty of choices as they explore the world of animal life.



Anthony, William. Ants. ISBN 9781534537521.
––––. Bees and Wasps. ISBN 9781534537569.
––––. Beetles. ISBN 9781534537644.
––––. Crickets. ISBN 9781534537682.
––––. Flies. ISBN 9781534537729.
––––. Moths. ISBN 9781534537767.
ea vol: 24p. (Bugs). Greenhaven/KidHaven. Aug. 2021. Tr. $24.60.
Gr 2-4 –Opening pages invite readers to “grab [a] notepad and [a] magnifying glass” and learn about interesting insects. Photos and page layouts continue the exploration theme, with images shown in frames and extra facts provided within the circle of a magnifying glasses’s lens. Conversational, informative text covers key topics, including physical features, food, and life cycles. Equal attention is given to distinctive qualities and adaptations, such as the cricket’s song (Crickets) and the eye of the fly (Flies). Several unique species are identified and described in Beetles and Moths; other titles keep information more general, but convey some of the diverse appearances and behaviors through photographs and captions. Text generally views bugs as fascinating and amazing, though occasional comments such as “yuck” and “gross” are used in Flies. Minute features mentioned in the text are usually depicted with close-up images, such as the stinger in Bees and Wasps. VERDICT Effective introductions to common insects.

Armentrout, David & Patricia Armentrout. French Bulldog Puppies. ISBN 9781427157584.
––––. German Shepherd Puppies. ISBN 9781427157645.
––––. Labrador Retriever Puppies. ISBN 9781427157706.
––––. Poodle Puppies. ISBN 9781427157768.
––––. Rottweiler Puppies. ISBN 9781427157829.
––––. Yorkshire Terrier Puppies. ISBN 9781427157881.
ea vol: 24p. (Puppy Pals). Crabtree/Crabtree Seedlings. Jul. 2021. Tr. $23.
K-Gr 2 –Appealing puppy photos and basic information should attract young prospective pet owners. One sentence per spread provides a simple fact about litter size, fur patterns, and other data. In addition to physical characteristics, readers learn a couple of broad behavior traits, such as “Yorkies are always on guard.” (Yorkshire Terrier Puppies). Full-page photographs give strong visual support, showing puppies at different ages and stages with appropriate breed variation. Most titles include several images of puppies interacting with kids and grownups; almost all of the humans appear to be white. Kids will need to look elsewhere for guidance on pet care, but these titles achieve the intended purpose of conveying how much fun and how interesting puppies can be. VERDICT Should appeal to young animal owners and those who may still be wishing for a pet of their own.

Geister-Jones, Sophie. Cheetahs. ISBN 9781637380284.
––––. Cougars. ISBN 9781637380291.
––––. Jaguars. ISBN 9781637380307.
––––. Leopards. ISBN 9781637380314.
––––. Lions. ISBN 9781637380321.
––––. Lynx. ISBN 9781637380338.
––––. Snow Leopards. ISBN 9781637380345.
––––. Tigers. ISBN 9781637380352.
ea vol: 32p. (Wild Cats). North Star Bks. Aug. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 2-4 –These profiles of wild cats introduce behaviors, especially hunting, and basic physical features, with sturdy visual support. Most opening chapters describe a particular animal in action with a present tense narrative. Most work well, though a couple of them are less engaging. Three more short chapters cover family life and groups, physical characteristics, and more about hunting. Each spread includes a brief paragraph accompanied by a few added facts in captions or insets with useful information that is usually related to the page’s main topic. Photographs are generally effective. Action shots capture the animals’ speed and deadliness, and occasional close-ups highlight key features such as the leopard’s whiskers ( Leopards) and cougar teeth (Cougars). Attractive layouts include impressive views that span a spread, mixed in with full-page images and well-placed circular framed photos. Threats to species survival are noted where relevant. VERDICT Good introductions to high-interest animals.

Golkar, Golriz. Meerkats. ISBN 9781532169717.
––––. Tarantulas. ISBN 9781532169755.
Lilley, Matt. Rattlesnakes. ISBN 9781532169731.
––––. Scorpions. ISBN 9781532169748.
London, Martha & others. Desert Animals. $228. ISBN 9781532169670.
London, Martha. Dingoes. ISBN 9781532169687.
––––. Iguanas. ISBN 9781532169694.
––––. Kangaroo Rats. ISBN 9781532169700.
––––. Ostriches. ISBN 9781532169724.
ea vol: 24p. (Desert Animals). Abdo/Pop!/Cody Koala. Aug. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 2-4 –Basic introductions to desert life, with supplemental material offered through QR codes. Short sentences describe each creature’s appearance and general behaviors, providing mostly engaging overviews. In some cases, a bit more detail would be helpful. For instance, in Tarantulas the tarantula’s predators are mentioned several times, but never named. Also, Dingoes states that “Dingoes look like dogs” but readers don’t learn if they are related to dogs. Inset boxes supplement the text, often with intriguing facts (e.g., in Scorpions: “Scorpions can snatch flies out of the air”). Most photos provide a strong visual connection to the facts from the text; ex-amples include useful views of a kangaroo rat burrow (Kangaroo Rats) but less effective is when Iguanas mentions hibernation and burrows, but the photo just shows the iguana head. Four QR codes in each book lead to a short video clip, extra facts, other reference books, and activity sheets. ­VERDICT Decent quality information and photos, with a simple and useful ­extended information feature.

Hansen, Grace. Asian Giant Hornet. $29.93. ISBN 9781098207342.
––––. Atlas Moth. ISBN 9781098207359.
––––. Cuckoo Wasp. ISBN 9781098207366.
––––. Giraffe Weevil. ISBN 9781098207373.
––––. Hercules Beetle. ISBN 9781098207380.
––––. Incredible Insects. ISBN 9781098207335.
––––. Praying Mantis. ISBN 9781098207397.
ea vol: 24p. (Incredible Insects). Abdo/Abdo Kids Jumbo. Aug. 2021. Tr. $29.93.
Gr 2-4 –This set highlights the distinct qualities of insects that might be new to most young learners. Cuckoo Wasp, for example, focuses on the creature’s impressive coloring and its unusual egg laying practices. Coverage also includes standard information about size, habitats, and life cycles, explained in clear, direct language. Photographs provide excellent visual support, with a single large image per spread, extending beyond the gutter. A giraffe weevil battle (Giraffe Weevil) and an atlas moth held in a child’s two hands (Atlas Moth) are among many eye-catching and informative images. In some cases key information, such as the Atlas moth’s lifespan and size data for praying mantises, is not provided in the main text, though they do appear in a brief “more facts” appendix. VERDICT Strong visuals and clear facts make these good choices to broaden the insect coverage for ­younger readers.

Schuh, Mari. Beluga Whales. ISBN 9781636900483.
––––. Dolphins. ISBN 9781636900513.
––––. Harp Seals. ISBN 9781636900544.
––––. Manatees. ISBN 9781636900575.
––––. Narwhals. ISBN 9781636900605.
––––. Orcas. ISBN 9781636900636.
––––. Polar Bears. ISBN 9781636900667.
––––. Sea Lions. ISBN 9781636900698.
––––. Sea Otters. ISBN 9781636900728.
––––. Walruses. ISBN 9781636900759.
ea vol: 24p. (The World of Ocean Animals). Jump!/Pogo. Aug. 2021. Tr. $26.99.
Gr 2-4 –General information, fun facts, and well-chosen photos introduce animals from ocean habitats. A few sentences per page describe physical characteristics, usually in relation to how those affect behaviors. The beluga’s coloring and neck flexibility, for example, are described in terms of how those features aid its survival (Beluga Whales). Feeding habits, predators, and birth are also covered. Photographs support the facts effectively, showing the animals in their ocean environments, with well-chosen close-ups and useful captions. All images are full page or larger. Other useful visuals include a diagram identifying key body parts and a range map. Varieties within a family are noted in the text when needed in Sea Lions, Dolphins, and Manatees; several books encompass just a single species respectively. VERDICT Excellent introductions to marine creatures.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Carr, Aaron & John Willis. Ankylosaurus. ISBN 9781791134341.
––––. Apatosaurus. ISBN 9781791134372.
––––. Deinonychus. ISBN 9781791134402.
––––. Pteranodon. ISBN 9781791134433.
––––. Pterodactyl. ISBN 9781791134464.
––––. Spinosaurus. ISBN 9781791134495.
––––. Stegosaurus. ISBN 9781791134525.
––––. Triceratops. ISBN 9781791134556.
––––. Tyrannosaurus Rex. ISBN 9781791135812.
––––. Velociraptor. ISBN 9781791134587.
ea vol: 24p. (Dinosaur World). AV2 Nonfiction. Feb. 2021. Tr. $28.55.
Gr 3-5 –These titles focus on the physical features and behaviors of some of the most commonly known prehistoric reptiles. Key areas like size, diet, and habitat are described clearly and neatly related to the animal’s behavior. Information about Spinosaurus’s jaw, for example, leads to descriptions of how it helped the animal breathe and hunt (Spinosaurus). Areas of speculation without conclusive evidence, such as the purpose of Stegosaurus’s plates (Stegosaurus) are clearly noted, highlighting the role of scientific research in establishing prehistoric facts. Visual support includes comparisons to other dinosaurs and to modern animals or objects to convey relative sizes of body lengths, claws, and other features. Close-up images highlight notable features such as Deinonychu’s claw (Deinonychus) and Apatosaurus’s teeth (Apatosaurus). Each book includes access to an ebook version, which adds links to videos, websites, and other resources. These features effectively expand the core text for more curious learners. ­VERDICT Useful additions to the 567s.

Dufresne, Emilie. Who’s the Bendiest? ISBN 9781534537323.
––––. Who’s the Biggest? ISBN 9781534537361.
––––. Who’s the Brightest? ISBN 9781534537408.
Holmes, Kirsty. Who’s the Deadliest? ISBN 9781534537446.
––––. Who’s the Fastest? ISBN 9781534537606.
––––. Who’s the Strongest? ISBN 9781534537484.
ea vol: 24p. (Animal vs. Animal). Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2021. Tr. $24.60.
Gr 3-5 –Playful illustrations and an interesting mishmash of facts highlight these animal comparisons. Each title introduces six creatures, listing size, habitat, and a particularly notable feature of each animal, along with a nickname (the hippopotamus is the “The Muddy Maniac” in Who’s the Deadliest?). The animals pair off into three separate “battles.” Criteria for victory varies based on the animals: it’s number of colors in “Chameleon vs. Garter Snake” (Who’s the Brightest?), for instance, and a tunnel race in “Ferret vs. Cat” ( Who’s the Bendiest?). There’s plenty of humor in the expressive cartoon animal drawings, aided by word balloons, varied fonts, and enthusiastic narration by a raccoon referee. At the same time, the comparisons present intriguing facts in an engaging manner. A spot photograph of each animal provides more accurate visual context. Closing pages offer quick facts about four more animals, a quiz, and an activity related to the animals’ features. VERDICT A fun and useful series for fans of Jerry Pallotta’s “Who Would Win?” books.

Gish, Melissa. Alligator. ISBN 9781640263369.
––––. Bat. ISBN 9781640263376.
––––. Giraffe. ISBN 9781640263383.
––––. Gorilla. ISBN 9781640263390.
––––. Koala. ISBN 9781640263413.
––––. Lion. ISBN 9781640263406.
––––. Monkey. ISBN 9781640263420.
––––. Polar Bear. ISBN 9781640263437.
––––. Shark. ISBN 9781640263444.
––––. Swan. ISBN 9781640263451.
ea vol: 32p. (Spotlight on Nature). The Creative Company. Jul. 2021. Tr. $32.80.
Gr 4-6 –Organized chronologically, these in-depth animal profiles cover life stages from birth through adulthood. Clear prose describes animal development, weaving in statistics and key facts about habitat, family structures, physical characteristics, and behaviors. A related “Meet the Family” section narrates the progress of specific species, interwoven with the main text that covers the broader animal group. A time line at the page bottom tracks the animal’s age. Photographs highlight key data, often expanded with highly effective “close up” features. The complexities of the koala’s “paws and claws,” for example, are shown perfectly with eye-catching images and explanatory text (Koala). Occasional full-page photos feature fun, oversized captions that add to the visual appeal. Closing pages look at the animal’s status in the wild and current conservation efforts. VERDICT First-rate animal portraits for middle grade students.

Gray, Susan H. American Bullfrogs Invade Swamps and Ponds. ISBN 9781534187047.
––––. American Minks Invade the United Kingdom. ISBN 9781534187078.
––––. Burmese Pythons Invade the Everglades. ISBN 9781534187023.
––––. Eastern Gray Squirrels Invade European Habitats. ISBN 9781534187054.
––––. Murder Hornets Invade Honeybee Colonies. ISBN 9781534187009.
––––. Northern Snakeheads Invade Ponds and Watersheds. ISBN 9781534187030.
––––. Nutrias Invade Marshes and Waterways. ISBN 9781534187016.
––––. Rosy Wolf Snails Invade Pacific Islands. ISBN 9781534187061.
ea vol: 24p. (Invasive Species Science: Tracking and Controlling). Cherry Lake. Aug. 2021. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 3-5 –The impacts of invasive species and the techniques scientists use to control them are covered in this up-to-date series. Opening scenes describe the animals or scientists in action, though most of the descriptions are not especially engaging. A look at how threats from each species grew is followed by examples of conservation strategies from scientists. Some are fascinating, such as the “tiny radio tracker” that helps to locate the nests of murder hornets (Murder Hornets Invade Honeybee Colonies). More general preventive efforts such as alerting the public and inter-agency collaboration are also noted. Background information is not always thorough; readers learn that American bullfrogs are “not a problem” in their native home, for example, but not where that native home is located (American Bullfrogs Invade Swamps and Ponds). Most of the full-page photos are rather static, with little interaction between animals or the scientists, resulting in limited visual impact. VERDICT Imperfect, but worth considering for its current coverage of some unusual animals.

Grodozicki, Jenna. Armadillo. ISBN 9781636911458.
––––. Camel. ISBN 9781636911465.
––––. Elephant. ISBN 9781636911441.
Rose, Rachel. Albatross. ISBN 9781636911472.
––––. Clown Fish. ISBN 9781636911434.
––––. Mandrill. ISBN 9781636911427.
ea vol: 24p. (Library of Awesome Animals Set Two). Bearport. Aug. 2021. Tr. $26.99.
Gr 3-5 –Playful chapter titles and occasional interjections like “yikes” and “wow!” create a lighthearted feel in these animal profiles, but there’s also plenty of useful, well-organized information. The tone achieves a good balance between enthusiastic (“Elephants are eating machines”) and factual (“They eat for an average of 16 hours every day”) (Elephants). Physical features, behavior, and life cycles are described in the main text. Interesting tidbits about the animal’s more unique characteristics, such as the albatross’s ability to sleep while flying (Albatross) usually appear in photo captions or separate insets. Full-page photographs highlight different behaviors, with occasional close-ups showing specific unusual features noted in the text, such as the mandrill’s yawn ( Mandrill). Threats to the animals’ survival are briefly noted where relevant. A closing “Information Station” page includes a range map, a comparative size diagram, and a bit about animal classification. VERDICT Well-rounded overviews with a light touch that might draw more reluctant learners.

HanáCková, Pavla. How Animals Care for Their Young: Parenting Styles in the Animal World. ISBN 9781499487565.
––––. Is What They Tell Us True?: Myths and Stereotypes about Animals. ISBN 9781499487602.
––––. Why Penguins Don’t Get Cold: How Animals Adapt to Their Surroundings. ISBN 9781499487640.
ea vol: illus. by Linh Dao. 32p. (Amazing Nature). Rosen/Windmill. Aug. 2021. Tr. $27.25.
Gr 3-5 –Each title explores a single broad topic, using numerous and varied examples from the animal kingdom. The books are well organized, with an opening overview followed by two-page spreads showing multiple examples related to a single animal or habitat. Spreads open with a chatty introduction leading into the real facts. In How Animals Care for Their Young, for example, male penguins are described as “handsome fellows,” and “dapper,” while the paragraphs that follow provide a fairly thorough explanation of their crucial role in rearing young. Occasionally the casual tone can be a bit vague; comparing habitat adaptations to countries and customs is one example from Why Penguins Don’t Get Cold. Appealing cartoon illustrations extend the lighthearted tone with expressive animal figures, sometimes addressing each other with word balloons. Effective layouts include varied fonts and efficient placement of images and text boxes. VERDICT Solid information, with an illustration style that will especially engage visual learners.

The overall quality level of the 12 series above is high. Most sets will strengthen collections, depending on subject and age level needs. Among the straightforward animal profiles, “Spotlight on Nature” (Creative Education) is a first choice for older readers, while “The World of Ocean Animals” stands out for slightly younger kids. Two fine arthropod series cover common insects (Greenhaven/KidHaven’s “Bugs”) and more unusual ones (Abdo/Abdo Kids Jumbo’s “Incredible Insects”). On the lighter side, “Animal vs. Animal” (Gareth Stevens) and Bearport’s “Library of Awesome Animals” successfully combine humor and fun facts in engaging, but very different presentations.

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