Thursday, June 21, 2012

Animal A-Z by Louisa Cornfield

Animal A-Z by Louisa Cornfield, designed by Bethany Side and Nicola Friggens

Rating: 5 nonfiction stars

So we're wandering around the zoo this morning, waiting for the houses to open so that we can see some animals up close and personal (and to get a break from the heat) when we come across the flamingos.  They are Lorelei's favorite animal right now--only because of their color.  (Blech.)

But they are cool in their own right.  We looked at them for a good five minutes, Kiefer screeching his hello from the stroller, and the kids and I observing them, checking them out.  We noted how they rested with their heads on their backs, as if their fluffy bodies were built-in pillows.  We saw how their necks made "Ss."  There weren't any babies this time around, but we remembered that they are born gray and turn pink.  We tried to stand on one leg like them.

As we chatted and looked and waited, Lorelei turned to me and said: "They turn pink because of something that they eat."  What?!  Nah!  Really?  I had that moment of motherhood that I knew would come but I didn't expect it so soon.  Does she already know more than me?!  Not really, but...I have to get to the bottom of this (because that sounds sorta fishy to me).

Checking out the flamingos.
We had brought this great book in the car with us, and I knew that F was for flamingos, so I looked to see if this random fact-that-might-not-be-a-fact could have come from this book.  Nope.  But it does share an interesting tidbit: No one knows why they stand on one leg.  How comforting.  I love unsolved mysteries.  Makes me feel somehow relieved to know that some things just...are.  For no reason.

Anyway, it's a great book.  We have given it as a gift a few times, and I highly recommend it as a gift for a 3- or 4- or 5-year old animal lover.  And what kid isn't an animal lover?  It helps to have a mom who is truly curious and enthusiastic about all of these species (we saw a blue frog, a yellow frog, and a red frog today.  who knew there were so many colors?!), but kids are pretty fascinated independently of nerdy parents.

One of my favorite things about this book is that on every page there is a small diagram comparing the animal to an average human male.  For not-yet-reading Ben, I ask him which is bigger, the man or the animal?  He gets to "read" something from the page, and is happy about that.

P.S.  Lorelei was right!  They are pink because they eat brine shrimp, which has a high content of beta carotene, the same thing that made each of my kids turn orange when they ate carrots as infants.  Go, Lorelei!  Click here for full answer...and a cool wildlife website.

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