Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler Reads

Heads and Tails – an animal who’s who guessing game

Heads and Tails, by John Canty, (Oct. 2018, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536200331

Ages 2-6

Ready for a guessing game? Heads and Tails gives readers clues, plus a rendering of an animal’s hindquarters, to help them figure it out. Every spread offers a watercolor rendering of an animal’s rear end, with three typewriter-font clues (emphasized with color), to help them guess. On the following page, the animal’s front end is revealed! The clues are descriptive: “I have long furry ears and a small nose. I live in a burrow in the ground. I have a white fluffy tail. I am a…” The reveal and the “I am a…” phrase is set in a handwritten, large black font, making this a good storytime read that clues kids in and follow along. The artwork is done is subdued watercolors, and all illustrations are adapated from 19th-century artwork. The tails are more opaque, less detailed, than the heads, almost like a fade-in to the animal reveal. There are two curve balls thrown in, which left my first grader and I scratching our heads, but it seems like it was a chance to draw out the mystery. The final mystery guest is the reader himself or herself: “I love to play. I learn new things every day. I am growing. I am… ME!”

This one’s a nice choice for toddler storytimes; there are few words, short sentences, and the chance to let kids call and act out their favorite animals. It’s a nice additional add for the artwork, which is lovely. I’d pair this one with Simms Taback’s fold-out animals books, which provide similar clues and reveal each animal through vertical and horizontal page unfolding. My toddler times love a dramatic reveal! Display with other fun Who-Am-I books, like my old reliable, Katie Davis’ Who Hops?, another guessing game story, albeit with a lot more laughs and a similar reveal at the end. And there’s always Steve Jenkins’ Who Am I?


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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