Cover of book shows face of aye-aye

I love Jess Keating’s series “The World of Weird Animals.” I’m not the only one. Recently I checked out Pink is for Blobfish to use in a presentation; many of the pages were stuck together from all the sticky fingers that had loved that book to death. The books are brilliantly designed with compelling photos, deftly-written facts, and insightful thematic links. She’s already announced the third book in the series but I just got the second one from my library. What Makes a Monster examines creatures with a reputation–sometimes deserved, sometimes not, for monstrosity. Along the way I learned lots of cool facts about animals and had a serious think about what I personally consider monstrous. My favorite thing about Keating’s books is that when I’m reading one, I feel absolutely impelled to share it with the people around me. I have to grab my kid or my spouse to show them just this photo, or tell them just this cool fact. The next book is about cuteness. I think I better order it much, much earlier from my library.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis is a funny, fact-filled book about praying mantises. The end papers are covered with typical nonfiction sidebars about the science ofCover of book shows praying mantis on a leaf. praying mantises (about how they camouflage, where they originated, how they catch prey, etc.). But the main text of the book masquerades as a journal. It starts “May 17. I was born today! It’s a beautiful, sunny spring day!” We follow along as P. Mantis enthuses over delicious aphids and also eats his siblings, catches prey, evades predatoIrs, and grows bigger and bigger. I learned a lot about praying mantises and enjoyed looking at the world from an insect point of view. It was interesting to read the book next to What Makes a Monster since some of the praying mantis’ habits could be considered monstrous (that whole eating your siblings thing). A really fun book that conveys great nonfiction content.

What Makes a Monster? by Jess Keating, illustrations by Dave DeGrand. Alfred A. Knopf: 2017.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis by Paul Meisel. Holiday House: 2017

Children with book around a globe

I participate every Wednesday in the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge at Kid Lit Frenzy.