________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 33 . . . . April 29, 2016


Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed a Zoo.

Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Kathy Boake.
Toronto, ON: Owlkids Books, 2016.
40 pp., hardcover, $17.95.
ISBN 978-1-77147-105-3.

Subject Headings:
Zoo animals-Feeding and feeds-Juvenile literature.
Zoo animals-Food-Juvenile literature.
Zoos-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

**** /4



Midnight Snacks
In the wild, nocturnal animals wake up at sunset—with growling tummies! How do keepers feed animals that sleep all day? At the Berlin Zoo in Germany, they beat the clock with a "trick of the light." In the morning, they dim lights in nocturnal animal exhibits to simulate moonlight. This makes nocturnal animals think it's nighttime. At night, when the rest of the zoo grows dark, these cages light up, letting both keepers and nocturnal animals rest easy. The animals wake up at "sunset," ready to have their breakfast at the same time as the zoo's early risers.

The book's title is intriguing enough, but its subtitle is the real clue to what's inside: how to feed a zoo. We know what our pets and many common wild animals eat, but what about the wide assortment of zoo residents? They include both well-known and unusual critters. So a book about what and how zoo keepers feed them is a great idea. It examines the dietary needs of animals from all corners of the globe, showing how food is prepared with special attention to babies, endangered species, nocturnal animals, those with limited diets and those that need huge amounts of food daily. It also describes how zoos try to maintain some quality of life for predatory animals by simulating the hunt for their meals and by offering challenges to others that make and use tools to feed themselves in the wild. Besides the interesting contents, the design of the book will appeal to young readers. It includes a Menu (aka Table of Contents), recipes, and interviews with several zoo staff doing specialist jobs. There's a puzzle (Are you as smart as a parrot?) and a critter-food match-up, a Glossary to help with new terms and an Index.

      The lively writing style will capture and hold reader attention throughout while the information presentation surprises and delights. There's the description of a weekly grocery list that includes 500 crickets and 35 rats, the story of how zookeepers babysat a rare palm cockatoo hatchling so it could be fed every hour and a half, an anecdote about how to solve the disposal problem of 45 kg of elephant poop a day, and a list of festive treats, like a birthday cupcake for a pair of rare Siberian tiger cubs. Understanding how zookeepers enhance the captive experience of every animal through food variety and imagination gives zoo-goers a tool to consider the value of these facilities. References on the final pages encourage readers to appreciate and care for natural settings as animal homes and to support conservation efforts for wild animals both locally and globally.

      The illustrations are a clever collage mixture of actual photos of both settings and animals (some poses appear to be computer-enhanced), with humans drawn in as needed. This creates a functional, animated display that is both engaging and realistic.

      Worms for Breakfast would be useful to share with a young person before or after a zoo visit, or to help kids think about the close and constant relationships we share with animals on a daily basis.

Highly Recommended.

Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer living in BC.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

Next Review | Table of Contents for This Issue - April 29, 2016.

CM Home
| Back Issues | Search | CM Archive | Profiles Archive