Wild Creatures, Pets, and Super Smart Helpers | Animals Series Nonfiction

This selection of animal books offers a nice variety of topics, ranging from animals that interact with humans, both as companions and as helpers, to broader topics of animal classification and beginning encyclopedias.

This season’s selection of animal books provides a wide range of topics, from animals that interact with humans, such as pets and service animals, to more general topics, such as animal classification and encyclopedias. Popular animals, such as grizzly bears and horses, can be found alongside more exotic species like tarsiers, fennec foxes, and Madagascar hissing cockroaches. Visual learners will benefit from pictures of cute baby animals, images of predators in action, and, in one case, graphic novel-style drawings. With 12 different sets to choose from, there will be something to suit every library’s animal section, as well as the reading levels and interests of young readers.



Argentine, Cynthia. Police Dogs. ISBN 9781637384237.
Lilley, Matt. Search and Rescue Dogs. ISBN 9781637384244.
––––. Sled Dogs. ISBN 9781637384268.
––––. Therapy Dogs. ISBN 9781637384282.
Norton, Elisabeth. Sniffer Dogs. ISBN 9781637384275.
Pearson, Marie. Acting Dogs. ISBN 9781637384213.
––––. Herding Dogs. ISBN 9781637384220.
ea vol: 32p. (Dogs at Work). North Star Eds./Apex. Jan. 2023. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 2-4 –A well-rounded look at dogs that help people. An engaging opening chapter describes the actions of a particular canine in action, although photographs often feature different dogs. Subsequent chapters reveal the many ways that each type of dog helps people, such as guide dogs, hearing dogs, and medical alert dogs. Specific details and skill sets, such as the differences between tracking and air-scenting rescue dogs, are clearly described and depicted in photographs. The final chapter focuses more on what the dogs need to learn rather than how it is taught. VERDICT Appealing and accessible introductions to an intriguing subject area.

Brandle, Marie. Elephant Calves in the Wild. ISBN 9798885240628.
––––. Giraffe Calves in the Wild. ISBN 9798885240659.
––––. Gorilla Infants in the Wild. ISBN 9798885240680.
––––. Hippopotamus Calves in the Wild. ISBN 9798885240710.
––––. Lion Cubs in the Wild. ISBN 9798885240741.
––––. Monkey Infants in the Wild. ISBN 9798885240772.
––––. Tiger Cubs in the Wild. ISBN 9798885240802.
––––. Zebra Foals in the Wild. ISBN 9798885240833.
ea vol: 24p. (Baby Animals in the Wild!). Jump!/Bullfrog Bks. Jan. 2023. Tr. $26.99.
K-Gr 2 –Basic information about the lives of young wild animals is ably supported by excellent photographs. Short, declarative sentences cover food, grooming, play, and social groups, often with a single fact or two about each topic: “Tiger cubs are born! They drink their mother’s milk!” While the text describes physical features and behaviors at a level accessible to new readers, vivid photos show the animals in action in their natural environment. The images highlight unique characteristics, like the baby elephant’s wrinkles and the tiger’s claws, as well as action scenes of jumping monkeys and lion cubs at play. A captioned full-body photo at the end identifies key body parts. VERDICT Pleasing choices for the youngest nonfiction readers.

Gottlieb, Beth. I Love Horses! ISBN 9781538283257.
––––. I Love Lizards! ISBN 9781538283295.
––––. I Love Monkeys! ISBN 9781538283332.
––––. I Love Pandas! ISBN 9781538283370.
––––. I Love Pigs! ISBN 9781538283417.
––––. I Love Sloths! ISBN 9781538283455.
ea vol: 24p. (My Favorite Animal). Gareth Stevens. Dec. 2022. Tr. $24.27.
K-Gr 2 –Engaging photos and simple language are used to introduce a handful of animal facts. The text, clearly aimed at new readers, mostly sticks to general information. Three page-turns in I Love Sloths, for instance, state that “There are six kinds. They all have fur. They have long claws.” A full-page photograph supports each statement, with particularly effective close-ups of fur and claws, although only two of the six kinds of sloth are shown. In a few titles, more specific animal qualities, such as the molting of lizards, are mentioned. Photographs capture the cuteness of the animals while also depicting a variety of behaviors and physical features. The intentionally primary-level text keeps the reading experience aimed at beginning readers. VERDICT Appealing entry points to nonfiction for new readers.

Lowe, Lindsey. Cats. ISBN 9781781218259.
––––. Dogs. ISBN 9781781218266.
––––. Fish. ISBN 9781781218273.
––––. Rabbits. ISBN 9781781218280.
––––. Reptiles. ISBN 9781781218297.
––––. Rodents. ISBN 9781781218303.
ea vol: 24p. (Pet Detectives). Brown Bear Bks. Jan. 2023. Tr. $34.25.
Gr 2-4 –These pet introductions include care basics and a handful of animal profiles. An opening spread provides tips for choosing the right animal, followed by a “What You Will Need” section touching on food, bedding, and other practical topics. While not highly detailed, this is helpful information for kids considering pet ownership. Next, two-page “fact files” explore the characteristics of six individual breeds or species. These include two photographs, selected statistics, and a couple of fun facts. Most featured animals are popular choices for new pet owners. A final two-page chapter surveys wild relatives of each pet group. Photographs mostly depict the animals at rest, though a few insets show more active views. The mixture of general information and individual profiles should appeal to kids curious about pets, especially if they have particular interest in one of the highlighted examples. VERDICT Useful ­supplements for the pet shelves.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Bankston, John. All About African Locusts. ISBN 9781680207583.
––––. All About African Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. ISBN 9781680207590.
––––. All About African Matabele Ants. ISBN 9781680207606.
––––. All About African Mopane Worms. ISBN 9781680207613.
––––. All About African Mosquitoes. ISBN 9781680207620.
––––. All About African Zulu Hud Bugs. ISBN 9781680207637.
ea vol: 24p. (Insects Around the World: Africa). Mitchell Lane/EZ Readers. Jan. 2023. Tr. $32.86.
Gr 3-5 –Most of the insects in this series are rarely covered in children’s books. Titles feature straightforward descriptions of characteristics and behaviors, accompanied by large ­photographs spanning a page and a half. Unique qualities, like the Matabele ant’s termite predation and the popularity of mopane worms as food for humans, are highlighted. Though there is plenty of intriguing information, the presentations are not always smooth and complete. Readers learn how Madagascar hissing cockroaches hiss, for example, but nothing about how that aids their survival. Some text boxes pack in too many facts. Photographs capture the unusual aspects of each insect fairly well, though not all directly support the textual content. VERDICT Worth considering for comprehensive insect species coverage.

Bow, James. Anacondas. ISBN 9781637384404.
Gendell, Megan. Arctic Foxes. ISBN 9781637384411.
––––. Wolverines. ISBN 9781637384466.
Hamby, Rachel. Grizzly Bears. ISBN 9781637384428.
––––. Rhinoceroses. ISBN 9781637384442.
Jade, Shannon. Alligators. ISBN 9781637384398.
Wilson, Libby. Rattlesnakes. ISBN 9781637384435.
––––. Wild Boars. ISBN 9781637384459.
ea vol: 32p. (Wild Animals). North Star Eds./Apex. Jan. 2023. Tr. $31.35.
Gr 3-5 –After an opening scene describing an animal on the hunt, each book examines the lives of predators. Physical features, habitats, behaviors, and life cycles are described in the main text, which includes one or two short paragraphs per spread. Inset text boxes and descriptive captions add content. The writing is clear and direct. Physical characteristics are mostly covered well, though animal sizes are not fully provided in some titles. Clean layouts and appealing photographs highlight features and behaviors, with emphasis on food and predation. Most titles include at least one close-up image of a unique characteristic, such as the rattlesnake’s rattle or grizzly bear’s claws. Some animal homes mentioned in the text are not shown. VERDICT Consider for filling collection gaps.

Carr, Aaron. Arabian Oryx. ISBN 9781791147969.
Durrie, Karen. Camel. ISBN 9781791147877.
Kissock, Heather & John Willis. Vulture. ISBN 9781791147938.
Siemens, Jared. Fennec Fox. ISBN 9781791147907.
ea vol: 24p. (Animals of the Desert). Lightbox Learning/AV2. Jan. 2023. Tr. $32.84.
Gr 4-6 –These are solid profiles of animals from the unique desert environment, containing one to two paragraphs per page that describe their physical features, behavior, and other key aspects. There is a nice balance between general information and more specific facts, many of which are tied specifically to the habitat. For example, the oryx’s hooves and the fennec fox’s ears are described in the context of how they helps them to survive in the desert. Each spread contains large photograph that effectively supports the page’s topic. Additionally, a “closer look” spread uses a captioned full body image to highlight the animal’s key features. Useful charts comparing features such as size and life span help to distinguish the species within their respective groups. Furthermore, readers are able to access an ebook version with an access code, which adds video content, web links, and other resources. VERDICT A useful resource for coverage of animals and of the desert habitat.

Eason, Sarah. Betty the Toolmaker! ISBN 9798885094290.
––––. Inky’s Great Escape! ISBN 9798885094313.
––––. Kanzi Learns Language! ISBN 9798885094306.
––––. Lulu Saves the Day! ISBN 9798885094320.
––––. Nookie’s Daring Rescue! ISBN 9798885094337.
––––. Pod Protection! ISBN 9798885094344.
ea vol: 24p. (Animal Masterminds). Bearport/Bear Claw Bks. Jan. 2023. Tr. $28.50.
Gr 3-5 –A life-saving pig and an escaping octopus are among the highly intelligent animals introduced through a graphic novel format. Each book focuses on a single animal. Some use their brains to rescue humans from danger, while others, like a tool-making crow, show their intelligence in a laboratory setting. Dialogue and occasional narration introduce the creatures and the humans with whom they interact, supported by paneled illustrations. While the drawings of humans conversing are rather dull, the animal scenes are more engaging and provide useful information. They highlight key developments, such as the crow’s steps towards tool creation, and capture the drama of exciting moments like a shark’s surprising appearance amid swimmers and a dolphin pod. Back matter presents a handful of animal facts followed by two short examples of other intelligent animals from the same group VERDICT Graphic novel style and interesting content could draw in reluctant nonfiction readers.

Hinman, Bonnie. Farm Animals. ISBN 9781098290429.
Hulick, Kathryn. Dinosaurs. ISBN 9781098290405.
MacMillan, Kathy. Cats. ISBN 9781098290399.
Miller, Marie-Therese. Dogs. ISBN 9781098290412.
Ventura, Marne. Horses. ISBN 9781098290436.
––––. Sharks. ISBN 9781098290443.
ea vol: 128p. (Early Animal Encyclopedias). Abdo Reference Jan. 2023. Tr. $45.64.
Gr 3-5 –Aimed at a slightly younger age range than the “Animal Encyclopedia” series, this set provides basic facts about a wide variety of animals. Each title opens with a general overview of the group, followed by brief articles on individual breeds and species. Most of the profiles are two pages long, with concise descriptions of appearance and behavior, plus additional facts relevant to the group. Typical entries include two photographs and a couple of other visual resources such as range maps, physical dimensions, or, in the case of Dinosaurs, geologic eras. The writing is clear and consistent, supported by useful visuals in efficient page layouts. Most of the books feature 50–70 entries; Farm Animals has 20 slightly longer entries which include information about animal care and their domestic uses. VERDICT Useful reference sources for elementary students with additional appeal for browsers.

Terp, Gail. Aye-Ayes. ISBN 9781623105648.
––––. Elephant Seals. ISBN 9781623105655.
––––. Narwhals. ISBN 9781623105662.
––––. Proboscis Monkeys. ISBN 9781623105679.
––––. Star-Nosed Moles. ISBN 9781623105686.
––––. Tarsiers. ISBN 9781623105693.
ea vol: 32p. (Curious Creatures). Black Rabbit Bks./Bolt. Jan. 2023. Tr. $35.70.
Gr 3-5 –The lives and qualities of some especially interesting animals are introduced with engaging text and strong visual support. Each book provides a brief but clear overview of the creature’s physical features, diet, habitat, and life cycle, with extra attention paid to distinct characteristics such as the narwhal’s tusk and the eyes of the tarsier. Well-chosen photographs are complemented by useful ­visual resources such as range maps, comparison charts, and food chain diagrams. Smaller images showing environments without the animals are less useful. An appealing “by the numbers” spread offers a handful of fun facts and statistics. Closing pages look at threats to the animals’ survival along with a bit about current efforts to protect them. Text and visuals are just right for middle elementary-age students who enjoy learning about especially unusual animals. VERDICT Excellent profiles for browsers and report writers.

Thielges, Alissa. Curious About Ferrets. ISBN 9781645493099.
––––. Curious About Guinea Pigs. ISBN 9781645493068.
––––. Curious About Hedgehogs. ISBN 9781645493075.
––––. Curious About Lizards. ISBN 9781645493082.
––––. Curious About Snakes. ISBN 9781645493105.
––––. Curious About Turtles. ISBN 9781645493112.
ea vol: 24p. (Curious about Pets). Amicus/Curious About. Jan. 2023. Tr. $34.25.
Gr 3-5 –A question-and-answer format introduces pets to prospective owners. Content touches on physical features, behavioral traits, and care. Practical questions about topics such as size and food are nicely balanced with ones that address specific behaviors, such as ferrets’ toy-hoarding or a turtle’s hiss. Visually appealing photographs depict a variety of species engaged in interesting activities, though they don’t show kids interacting with the animals or the pet enclosures described in the text. Closing spreads provide resources for more detailed pet care information that readers may want to pursue. VERDICT A solid introduction for kids interested in less common pets.


Upper Middle School to High School

Vonder Brink, Tracy. Amphibians. ISBN 9781039800229.
––––. Birds. ISBN 9781039800243.
––––. Fish. ISBN 9781039800250.
––––. Insects. ISBN 9781039800236.
––––. Mammals. ISBN 9781039800267.
––––. Reptiles. ISBN 9781039800274.
ea vol: 32p. (Members of the Animal Kingdom). Crabtree/Crabtree Crown. Jan. 2023. Tr. $30.60.
Gr 4-6 –These well-organized introductions to animal kingdoms feature clear language and effective visual content. Opening chapters provide general information about animal classification, followed by facts about the primary characteristics within the featured kingdom. The main text covers general commonalities, while photographs, captions, and text boxes provide specific examples. For instance, a paragraph about the cold-blooded nature of insects is accompanied by a text box describing how they might gather together to stay warm and a photograph of huddling ladybugs. The same structure is applied to subsequent chapters on habitat, life cycles, movement, and hunting. Nearly all animals in the photographs are identified through captions or text. A final chapter highlights three or four particularly unique representatives of the class. VERDICT Appealing and accessible introductions to animal classification.


Depending on collection scope and subject needs, all 12 series mentioned could warrant a place on the animal shelves, but a few stand out. The graphic novel format and real-life stories in Bearport’s Animal Masterminds could be particularly appealing to readers new to nonfiction books. Curious Creatures (Black Rabbit) could also have similar popularity potential due to its strong text and creatively varied visual content. For beginning readers, My Favorite Animal (Gareth Stevens) and Baby Animals in the Wild (Jump!) feature accessible text and highly appealing photographs. Crabtree’s Members of the Animal Kingdom excellently introduces the potentially challenging concept of animal classification at an appropriate level for child learners, and Early Animal Encyclopedias (Abdo) fill a need for introductory animal reference sources.

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