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From The Asian Reporter, V15, #40 (October 4, 2005), page 16.
Hide and seek
I See a Kookaburra! Discovering Animal Habitats Around the World
By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Houghton Mifflin, 2005
Hardcover, 32 pages, $16.00
By Josephine Bridges
Six habitats — desert, tide pool, jungle, savanna, forest, and pond — each containing eight local animal residents, all of this illustrated with ingenious collages, make up I See a Kookaburra. It’s an adventure in careful observation that’s as much fun as a game of hide and seek.
Finding the animals, not to mention the ant that appears in all six habitats, isn’t easy. Most of them are hiding, as animals often do. If you get stuck, you can always turn the page, and there are the eight animals, and the ant, right where they were on the page before, without all the rocks, trees, holes, and flowers they were hiding behind, in, and under. Every animal is identified and briefly described on this second of the pair of pages devoted to each habitat.
I See a Kookaburra is a visually stunning book filled with information it’s a joy to acquire. Did you know that long-nosed bats, desert dwellers, sip nectar from flowers? Or that the rhinoceros beetle, a jungle resident, is the world’s strongest insect? Or that the secretary bird, from the savanna, "kills snakes by stomping on them with its feet?" From peacock worms to naked mole rats to echidnas to water spiders, you’ll meet some of your most fascinating neighbors here, and find out more about where they make their homes.
A section at the end of the book includes in-depth information about both habitats and animals. Here’s the place to find out how long a diamondback rattlesnake is, what an oystercatcher’s eggs look like, or whether jaguars can swim. Do you know what a serval is? How about a cassowary? Is an elephant shrew big or small? How many different kinds of ants are there? Where can you find "nearly half of all known plant and animal species?"
While this is ostensibly a book for young readers, grown-ups won’t be able to keep their eyes off the intricate and colorful illustrations, and they’ll probably learn a lot while they’re at it. I See a Kookaburra is a perfect book for reading together, with all kinds of potential for conversation and games. Think about it: where would you hide in the desert, the tide pool, or the forest?