Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals (Laura Gehl)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Odd Beasts: Meet Nature’s Weirdest Animals, written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Gareth Lucas, a board book look at some unusual creatures.

Very early readers can take a look at eight odd adaptations in the animal world with this simplified version of a nature primer. Introduced in brief rhyming quatrains (of which there are only three; four animals covered in each of the first two, then a delightfully humorous sign-off in the last), readers can meet the pangolin, the sunfish, the bush baby, and other unique animal pals.

Ambitious. It’s interesting to see such a broad subject get the board book treatment, and I’m on the fence over whether it works or not. The text for each of the eight animals is so brief that it really struggles to illuminate what makes their adaptations so unique; for instance, “this insect’s jumps are strong”, which is not only a bit of an understatement for the giant jumping stick, but fails to even give name to the insect. The artwork, while colorful and pleasing for young eyes, also struggles with this, especially in trying to establish scale on a massive creature like the sunfish. Gehl does include photographs and more details about the animals on the last two spreads, which helps immensely with the educational aspects, but is definitely framed for a slightly older audience. I don’t want to say this book doesn’t work, because honestly, we enjoyed it – JJ loved the artwork and especially the closing lines. The length of the main body makes for a quick read, and reading the supplemental material extends that. Overall, this one is simply a cool concept that falters a bit in its execution, but is worth checking out, especially for young animal enthusiasts; Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

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