My favorite reading challenge this year is Kid Lit Frenzy’s Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. Visit Alyson’s blog to discover more wonderful nonfiction picture books to read and share.
Lita Judge’s Born in the Wild: Baby Mammals and Their Parents offers glimpses into the first hours, days, and weeks of life for 26 different wild animals. The illustrations show the baby mammals, often with their mothers, in the behaviors and activities they’ll engage in most during their early lives–nursing, playing, sleeping, exploring, running, hiding. The warm and engaging text focuses on common needs among all baby mammals–for food, protection, nurture, play, family. Judge doesn’t mention humans until the end, but the connection is strongly implicit throughout the text–human babies share all these same needs.
Judge shares many memorable details that differentiate mammals. The first teeth of wolf pups, for instance, aren’t strong enough to chew meat, so their mothers regurgitate food for them to eat. Opossum mothers often have litters of twelve or more babies, who outgrow the pouch and travel around clinging to their mother’s back. The back matter includes extra unique features about each animal, including this one about opossums that I will NEVER forget: opossum babies are so small when they are born that twelve of them can fit into a tablespoon!
The back matter includes additional information about each animal, a glossary, list of sources, and short list of recommended websites, including Zooborns, where I just spent about 45 minutes looking at adorable (and a few not so adorable) baby animals.
Cynthia Leitich Smith has an excellent interview with Judge about her research and writing process for Born in the Wild. Judge’s observations about her work are well worth reading, but the real draw might be the wonderful photographs.