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Entertainment

‘Paws, Claws, Hands and Feet’ and ‘Whose Nest Is This?’

One constant in life is that small children love small critters, especially if the critters are furry, fuzzy, or feathered. Add some interesting facts the kids can learn and tell to impress each other, and they’ll be fascinated.

“Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet” features a variety of animals, large and small, from around the world. Rhyming couplets create an insistent chant, with each pair of lines describing a different use for those important body parts listed in the title. For example, a chimp is “Curling, clinging / tree branch swinging,” while a kangaroo enjoys “Hipping, hopping / outback bopping.”

The illustrations tell a wordless story tying the different animals and facts together. Two children travel from water bog to ice berg, watching and interacting with the animals. Forget about a magic carpet; these kids have a flying bed, complete with elephant-printed covers that at times cushion an eagle’s nest or pillow a sleepy panda. Although the art style is somewhat stiff, imaginative details provide sprightly humor.

The back of the book features a four-page “For Creative Minds” section with additional information, matching activities, and questions to ponder. “Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet” will give young readers a new appreciation of the many things they can do with their own hands and feet.

“Whose Nest Is This?” explores the ways that a baker’s dozen of birds and animals (and even one fish) build their homes. Using a riddle format, the text first describes a nest in a rhythmic four-line poem, working specific details and clues into the lines. Following the description, the title question is repeated.

A full-page, realistic color painting presents the answer, showing each animal or bird in its natural habitat. The beautiful illustrations, like the text, present the exact species: not just flamingo but Caribbean flamingo, not just mouse but harvest mouse. Some of the choices are as much fun to say as dinosaur names: try shouting “threespine stickleback fish” three times, fast!

A “Fun-Fact Glossary” at the book’s end provides a paragraph about each species, focusing, naturally, on the babies. “Whose Nest Is This?” is apt to inspire spirited play-acting as kids build their own nests and watch their “young” emerge.

With their kid-appealing facts and colorful illustrations, “Paws, Claws, Hands, and Feet” and “Whose Nest Is This?” will be especially attractive to home-schoolers. Both books are sure to tickle any young child who loves animals.

Children’s literature specialist Paula Morrow lives and writes in Princeton. She welcomes comments and book suggestions at: Reviews@PaulaMorrow.com.

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