Do You Know Where the Animals Live?: Discovering the Incredible Creatures All Around Us by Peter Wohlleben

  Do You Know Where the Animals Live?: Discovering the Incredible Creatures All Around Us by Peter Wohlleben, translated by Shelley Tanaka, Greystone Kids, 9781771646598, 2021 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover

What did you like about the book?  This handsome and thick compendium of animal facts has a much broader focus that the title implies. It’s actually about all aspects of animal life: where they live, what they eat, how they raise their young, how they survive and how to understand their emotions and languages. Wohlleben is a popular guru now, having helped adults understand forests with The Hidden Life of Trees. Here he uses that same conversational tone and handsome photographs to pique kids’ interest in zoology. No animal is too small to escape his notice; he spotlights pollywogs and caterpillars as well as favorites like koalas and wolves. Repeating elements include quizzes (always cued by appearing in white print on a black, rounded songbird) and Try This!, with ideas for hands-on activities. The book design is very appealing, with widely spaced text, headings and banners to cue young readers, and well-chosen photos. Luckily, the look remains attractive and clean, without a lot of the junky distractions and extraneous elements I so often see in nonfiction texts these days. An index provides easy access to specific creatures. The children shown in the book represent a wide range of identities.

Anything you didn’t like about it? The assumption here is that children have backyards to set up sprinklers for butterflies or often go for walks in the woods to see birds. This may or may not be true for your patrons. Sometimes the narrative meanders a bit. For example, we learn that deer join together in groups during the winter, but the animals are not necessarily “friends.” What does this mean and why is it important? There are no squirrel families, but sometimes squirrels get together to share a nest, although they mostly prefer to live on their own, according to Wohlleben. Based on that information, I have now zero understanding of squirrel social behavior.

To whom would you recommend this book?  A good choice for strong readers or children from grades k-5 with patient adults who can get through the whole almanac of facts. If you have readers that love to pour over trivia or photos, this would be an absorbing read.

Who should buy this book? Elementary or public libraries

Where would you shelve it? 590

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: April 22, 2021

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