Like, by Annie Barrows/Illustrated by Leo Espinosa, (Sept. 2022, Chronicle Books), $17.99, ISBN: 9781452163376
A young boy breaks down the differences between us in this amusing and giggle-worthy story. “We are people. Also known as humans”, he begins; “This makes us different from most of the things on Earth”. We are not, for instance, shaped like tin cans, but we are a little like swimming pools, because we have water and chemicals and dirt inside us”. The boy goes on to talk about things we are like, things that we have things in common with, but are not like (like an excavator, which can dig big piles of dirt and move them around, but cannot tell jokes or fry an egg), with laugh-out-loud observations that sound like they’ve come straight from a child’s mind. Ivy + Bean author Annie Barrows makes a strong point in the best of ways: “I am more like you than I am like most of the things on Earth. I’m glad. I’d rather be like you than a mushroom”. Like is a great story to start discussions of similarities and differences with young listeners. Pura Belpré Honor illustrator Leo Espinosa gives readers a visually exciting story with bright colors, diverse characters, and a biracial main character. Playful and funny, this will be popular at storytime.
Animals Do, Too!, by Etta Kaner/Illustated by Marilyn Faucher, (May 2017, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771385695
Recommended for ages 4-8
Do you like to dance? Do you like to play leapfrog? Play tag? Well, guess what: animals do, too! This fun book features pictures of families at play on one spread, and a corresponding spread on the next two pages, with a group of animals engaged in the same fun. The alternating question and answer format engages kids right away, and the activities that we humans do for fun, while animals do them to find food and care for their young will spark discussion with young learners.
Animals Do, Too! features animals that differ from the usual farm and jungle animals kids meet in their books. Sure, we’ve got bumblebees and frogs, but we also meet cattle egrets and marmosets, gazelles and leaf-cutter ants. A spread at the back of the book provides fast facts about each animal in the book.
There is some lovely watercolor work here, featuring lovely nature scenes. The families are enjoying one another, and the animals are playful while completing their everyday work. The parallels between humans and animals should engender interest and empathy in kids and will start some great conversations – ask the kids around you to think of animals they see every day: what does a cat do that a person does? (Stretching is a good one!) What does a dog do that a person does? (Jump and play!) You can create matching games that match the activity with the animal, for younger learners; bonus: they get to color.
The question and answer pattern of the text invites kids to interact with the text and gives them a chance to contribute before revealing the answer on the following spread. This is a good additional purchase for nature, life science, and animal collections.
Different? Same!, by Heather Tekavec/Illustrated by Pippa Curnick, (May 2017, Kids Can Press), 416.95, ISBN: 9781771385657
Recommended for ages 3-6
Zebras gallop, bumblebees fly, lemurs leap, and a tiger prowls, but look closer: they all have STRIPES! Different? Same! celebrates the similarities among animals that would otherwise seem very different. Each spread features a group of animals that mentions a different trait, inviting readers to look closer to find the common characteristic. One animal from the previous spread shows up in each new spread – ask your eagle-eyed readers to spot them! A final spread puts all forty animals together and asks readers to search for animals with specific characteristics: who’s furry? Who would make good pets? Who would you NOT like to touch? Brief paragraphs at the end of the book explain why animals have the characteristics they do.
The digital art is very colorful and cute, creating happy, friendly animals that kids will love. The book is useful when introducing the concept of patterns to young learners and when discussing similarities and differences, which can lead to a talk on a greater scale about diversity; what makes us different, what makes us the same. This is a good additional purchase to concept collections.