Clare Beaton has created a clever book that shows characteristics of several different African animals. Each double-page spread ends with “But how loud is a lion? Shhh! Listen!” Your children will quickly pick up this refrain and chime in.  Will everyone be ready when we finally turn the page and discover how loud the lion is? And the humor of the last page can be enjoyed by all.

The applique and embroidery illustrations give this book a friendly, folk art atmosphere. This can be the jumping off point for a lesson on descriptive adjectives. Older audiences may also find this book a great stimulus for their own art projects.

Check the WRL catalog for How Loud Is a Lion?

dinoThis book will delight  whether or not you have a dinosaur fan in the group. Each page introduces one or more dinosaurs to the reader. Each dinosaur is identified and the fact that each is given a first name isn’t a major drawback. The large and larger animals are the focus of the book but be sure to look for a snail that appears on each double-page spread.

There is no plot here. We are on a walk through an ancient landscape and we check out the animals around us. But that will not discourage your audience. This is perfect for group sharing as the pictures are large and bright and the text is minimal.

Facts about the Age of the Dinosaurs and descriptions and pronunciations of the dinosaur names are included at the end of the book.  Check the WRL catalog for I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur.

This week I’m going to share books illustrated by Clare Beaton. I love her fabric applique and embroidery collage illustrations. On her web page [www.clarebeaton.com] Ms. Beaton tells us that she was brought up in North London in England and continues to live and work there. She always loved folk art and used that inspiration in her children’s book work. She works with felt and a mostly vintage range of buttons, braids, and fabric. The pictures are all hand-stitched.


billyTwo young farmers want the billy goat out of the garden (think back yard in America) but flowers and laundry drying on the line are too wonderful for goat to leave. One by one the other farm animals try their best to hurry the goat out of the garden. But this is a very stubborn goat. Can you guess what animal will finally send the goat on his way?

The collage illustrations are perfect for this story which is adapted from a Puerto Rican folk tale. The cumulative nature of the narrative is echoed in the pictures.

The illustrations are large enough to share with a group. The book may also be used in a family setting.

Check the WRL catalog for There’s a Billy Goat in the Garden.

What could Little T be afraid of at the zoo? Her parents and big sister try to figure it out alphabetically. As the family proceeds through the alphabet, they call out a letter or a description and use their bodies and whatever is lying around to act out the animal. Children will be able to guess the animal for each letter based on these clues, but the family goes from A to Z and still cannot guess what frightens Little T.

Upon arriving at the zoo, Little T’s family finally solves the mystery. When they return home they amusingly act out Little T’s fear as well. Your readers will never guess what Little T’s fear is, but the payoff will still be great, perhaps even better for being completely unexpected.

Check the WRL catalog for Fraidyzoo.

As the song goes, “Fish got to swim and birds got to fly”, but that doesn’t mean they have to be happy about it. What if what we thought we knew about our friends in the animal kingdom turned out to be vicious stereotyping. The revelatory volume, What Animals Really Like blows all our assumptions about animals out of the water.

As the book begins, Mr. Herbert Timberteeth is debuting a song of his own, “What Animals Like Most.” His choir is composed of cows, monkeys, frogs, and a menagerie of other animals. He’s not expecting them to go off-book.

Things start off well: “We are lions, and we like to prowl. We are wolves, and we like to howl. We are pigeons, and we like to coo.”

But then things take a turn: “We are horses, and we like deep-sea diving. We are worms, and we like to bowl. We are warthogs, and we like to parachute.”

Children will enjoy this irreverent story and its surprising twists. Very ambitions storytellers might even choose to find a tune to which they can sing Mr. Timberteeth’s song.

Check the WRL catalog for What Animals Really Like.

It’s hard living at the top of the food chain. Sure, you might have your pick of yummy food to eat but nobody likes you.

“The lion tries to ignore it when the gazelles whisper behind his back. He pretends not to see the zebras looking down their noses at him. The wildebeests call him ‘bad kitty’ just because he’s eaten half the neighborhood. It hurts. It really does.”

So, the lion, timber wolf, and great white shark decide to go vegetarian. It goes just about as well as you might think. Carnivores just can’t ignore their natural instincts. They try disguising themselves as less threatening animals, but that doesn’t work either. Finally, they seek out the great horned owl for advice. What he tells them changes everything.

Carnivores is a darkly humorous picture book perfect for older children and fans of similar titles including Ugly Fish, Whatever, and Jim: a Cautionary Tale.

Check the WRL catalog for Carnivores.

Woodland critters are very skittish. The slightest noise can send them scampering away. So, when a few bunnies sitting under a tree by a lake hear a sudden “PLOP!” they are off and running. They warn the fox, who warns the monkey, and soon all of the animals are running for their lives. All except the big brown bear.

The big brown bear is not scared of things; things are scared of him! He wants to find this “PLOP!” that is stepping onto his turf. So, the big brown bear forces one of the bunnies to take him back to see the “PLOP!” When the two return to the lake, they hear the “PLOP!” again. This time the bunny notices where the sound is coming from and is no longer afraid. The big brown bear, however, has a different reaction.

This is a story about bravery and the fear of the unknown. Children will quickly realize what caused the “PLOP!” and will find humor in each animal’s overreaction. Colorful illustrations fill the page and even make use of photographs. A picture of cake is created by combining a photo with hand-drawings, while the texture of the big brown bear’s fur looks like real yarn. Pictures of a knife and glass appear to be clip art inserted into the illustrations. This is another title perfect for a storytime audience.

Check the WRL catalog for The Terrible Plop.


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