Wanted!: Criminals of the Animal Kingdom

Kids Can. Mar. 2020. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781525300240.
Gr 3-5–Detective X, a polar bear with a badge and a magnifying glass, is hunting criminals of the animal kingdom. Their crimes? Llamas are wanted for spitting, cuckoo birds for laying eggs in other birds’ nests, and wood frogs for playing dead. In other words, the animals are wanted for exhibiting their natural survival behaviors. The book is structured as a series of criminal dossiers with mug shots and evidence paper-clipped to file folders. The commitment to this structure creates an immersive experience for readers. Batori’s illustrations bring big personality to even the littlest of creatures, like red crabs and antlions. However, the book’s interesting facts can get lost within the perplexing fictional structure. By the end of the book, all of the animals are in the slammer and a child is considered a menace to society for refusing to go to bed.
VERDICT Even in the jokey, tongue-in-cheek fashion in which the book is presented, the criminalization and imprisonment of animals and children for their natural behaviors is a strange conceit that makes the book difficult to recommend.

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