Do Baby Elephants Suck Their Trunks? by Ben Lerwill,  illustrated by Katharine McEwen

Do Baby Elephants Suck Their Trunks? Amazing Ways Animals Are Just Like Us by Ben Lerwill,  illustrated by Katharine McEwen. Nosy Crow, 2022. 9781536224047

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

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book?  Think about how human and animal babies are similar, an omnipotent narrator asks young readers in this oversized and appealing picture book. Animals and people do share traits, especially when they are babies, and then Lerwill proceeds to highlight 10 different creatures that share behaviors with human infants. Elephant calves suck their thumbs, koala joeys need lots of sleep, and kittens love to play with toys. Each two-page spread opens with a question, such as “How do you stay warm?” while we get a close-up look at tiny, barely furry baby bunnies, nestled in a pile of fur and straw. “Do you have loose teeth?” Puppy teeth also fall out, usually when the dog reaches 4 months. The colorful collage illustrations are attractive, literal, and include interesting details and always show the animal parent carrying for its offspring (thus, no insect, fish, amphibian, or reptile families). A final question could lead to some physical activity: if you could be an animal, which one would you choose? This book was cute and the question/answer format will give children time to think about the answer, prompting conversation with the adult reader. The featured babies on the first and last pages have various skin colors and gender-neutral outfits.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Some of the phrasing was a bit awkward, for example, “How do you like to explore?” for the polar bears. A few of the facts seemed a bit loose. Infant orangutans are carried for 2 years but some are carried for 5 years – why such a large spread? And other animals are definitely not like us, which the text actually points out, for example, giraffes are wobbly when born but can run with their parents after an hour!

To whom would you recommend this book?  Animal lovers between the ages of 3-6. With the opportunity to engage in call and response, this could be good for a read aloud. This could also be a mentor text for a classroom compare/contrast research project.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it? 591.392

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: June 28, 2022

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