________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 2 . . . . September 12, 2008

cover Amazing Things Animals Do.

Marilyn Baillie. Illustrated by Romi Caron.
Toronto, ON: Maple Tree Press, 2007.
127 pp., hardcover, $24.95.
ISBN 978-1-897066-86-7.

Subject Headings:
Animal behavior-Juvenile literature.
Animals-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Gail Hamilton.

***½ /4


Sloths are so slow, they can be a shelter for other animals. Each hair in the sloth’s fur is covered with very small scales. Tiny, plantlike creatures called algae live under these scales. The algae make the sloth’s fur a greenish color, blending the sloth and her baby into the leafy treetops. Not even a sharp-eyed eagle or hungry jaguar can see them dangling there.

Tiny moths also make their home in the sloth’s shaggy coat. Female moths lay eggs in the sloth’s droppings. There the eggs become caterpillars and finally change to adult moths. Up into the trees the moths fly, to find homes in the fur of other sloths. Meanwhile, not noticing the algae and moths living on them, the sloth and her baby sleep the day away. Zzzzz.


Unusual animal behaviour is the focus of this very interesting book. Divided into four sections, the book describes how animals help each other, care for their young, store food and communicate. Each section begins with a general introduction followed by 13 double-page spreads, representative of all animal groups, highlighting specific animals. For each double-page spread, there are a couple of coloured illustrations as well as a small inset photograph of the animal. The small photographs are repeated at the back of the book in a “Who’s Who” section which provides additional facts about the animal and its habitat. These photos are presented in their order of appearance in the book.

internal art

      The first section, “Side by Side,” describes symbiotic relationships, such as that of Galapagos tortoises and finches, sharks and remoras, and angelfish and wrasses. Some of the animals presented in this part of the book coexist for safety reasons, while others keep each other clean or help them to find food.

      “Little Wonders” explains various parenting methods, some topics of which are feeding, protecting, and carrying the offspring from place to place. One example is the mother sea otter who wraps her baby in a strand of kelp while she dives for her dinner. The air bubbles in the kelp not only keep the baby warm, but also keep him from drifting away.

      “Time to Eat” focuses on finding and storing food. Some of the animals featured in this section are the leopard, who drags her catch up into a tree, a crocodile, who keeps his catch in the water to soften the meat for easier chewing, and the beaver, who keeps his food in a “refrigerator” just outside the lodge.

      Finally, in “Wild Talk,” readers will learn how animals communicate. Body language, sounds, marking territory and mating dances are a few of the examples given. One unique way of sending messages is the firefly’s flashing codes to attract mates, and even to entice a meal.

      Guaranteed to sustain the reader’s attention, this book is a fascinating and highly entertaining read.

Highly Recommended.

Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.