Intelligent, Ferocious, and Fascinating | Animals Series Nonfiction

From apex predators to precious pets, these animal books capture the interest and imagination of young learners.


From apex predators to precious pets, animal books capture the interest and imagination of young learners. The best of this season’s series use engaging text and expertly designed visual content to build engagement and knowledge about creatures of all kinds. Several sets utilize interactive elements, including simple guessing games and reader challenges. Some incorporate the scientific process by including quotations from animal experts. New titles can offer up-to-date data about species populations and fascinating examples of current research and modern technology to keep collections relevant.



An, Priscilla. Rabbit Behavior.ISBN 9781098291044.
Lim, Angela. Bird Behavior.ISBN 9781098291006.
––––. Rat Behavior.ISBN 9781098291051.
Pearson, Marie. Cat Behavior.ISBN 9781098291013.
––––. Dog Behavior.ISBN 9781098291020.
––––. Horse Behavior.ISBN 9781098291037
ea vol: 32p. (Animal Behavior). Abdo Kids Core. Sept. 2023. Tr $34.22.
Gr 2-5–This series focuses on behavioral traits of each highlighted animal, rather than pet care. Each book opens with a brief narrative about a child interacting with the pet. These aren’t especially engaging, and some photos are unconnected to the story. Parrot Behavior , for instance, pairs a photo of a girl and parrot with text about a boy. Subsequent chapters describe a variety of animal behaviors, focusing on the ways humans can understand what their animal is trying to communicate. Body language, sounds, and signs of poor health are all covered, with an emphasis on the ways that observant pet owners can keep their animals healthier and happier if they understand them better. Photographs provide visual examples of some of the behaviors described in the text, and a captioned “body language” spread at the end identifies a few more, but more visual samples would have been useful. VERDICT Though not perfect, the topical focus on behavior may complement care-based titles currently in collections.

Aronson, Deb. King Cobras.ISBN 9781637385470.
Bow, James. Caimans.ISBN 9781637385425.
Gendell, Megan. Chameleons.ISBN 9781637385432.
––––. Giant Tortoises.ISBN 9781637385449.
Jade, Shannon. Iguanas.ISBN 9781637385463.
––––. Snapping Turtles.ISBN 9781637385494.
Ross, Melissa. Gila Monsters.ISBN 9781637385456.
––––. Komodo Dragons.ISBN 9781637385487.
ea vol: 32p. (Reptiles). North Star Editions. Apex. Aug. 2023. Tr $31.35.
Gr 2-4–These overviews offer well-rounded introductions to reptile life. Each opening chapter describes the animal in action, either capturing prey or battling another creature. Subsequent pages provide straightforward descriptions of the animals’ environment, food, and life cycles, with information about physical features and specific behaviors smoothly woven in where relevant. Captioned photographs and inset fact boxes add appeal and efficiently extend the more general information from the main text. The description of the snapping turtles’ hunting practices, for example, benefits from the excellent photos of its jaws and claws. Variations within groups, such as the different environments of the green, marine, and desert iguanas, are noted; so is endangered status when applicable. VERDICT Solid choices to strengthen reptile shelves.

Brandle, Marie. Hedgehogs.ISBN 9798885246613.
––––. Llamas.ISBN 9798885246705.
––––. Sloths.ISBN 9798885246828.
Deniston, Natalie. Iguanas.ISBN 9798885246644.
––––. Koalas.ISBN 9798885246675.
––––. Pandas.ISBN 9798885246767.
Nilsen, Genevieve. Narwhals.ISBN 9798885246736.
––––. Parrots.ISBN 9798885246798.
ea vol: 16p. (My First Animal Books). Jump!/ Tadpole. Aug. 2023. Tr $25.65.
PreS-Gr 1–Aimed at pre-readers and the youngest learners, these titles offer a small handful of basic facts along with highly engaging photographs. Most images fill two pages, usually accompanied by a single sentence of four words or less. Three photos fill each spread and perfectly highlight the specific physical features discussed in the text. Captions should help young readers with the few terms that might be new to them, such as tusk or quill. The level of information works at the most introductory level, while the simple sentence structure, repeated words, and basic vocabulary are just right for new readers. VERDICT Attractive and accessible nonfiction for beginning readers.

Griffin, Mary. Whose Ears Are Those?ISBN 9781538286357.
––––. Whose Eyes Are Those?ISBN 9781538286388.
––––. Whose Feet Are Those?ISBN 9781538286418.
––––. Whose Nose Is That?ISBN 9781538286449.
––––. Whose Tail Is That?ISBN 9781538286470.
––––. Whose Teeth Are Those?ISBN 9781538286500.
ea vol: 24p. (Animal Bodies). Gareth Stevens. Aug. 2023. Tr $24.27.
K-Gr 2–Animal body parts are introduced in a guessing game format in this new series. One spread shows the featured body part, with the rest of the animal hidden by an eye-shaped graphic, along with a simple adjective description: “Look at these large teeth.” A page turn reveals the whole animal and adds one fact related to the body part: “It’s a hippo! It fights with its teeth.” (Whose Teeth Are Those?). The pattern continues with a total of five nicely varied examples. The initial photograph usually shows enough of the animal to allow for strong guesses without revealing too much. In most cases the second image is a larger view of the smaller picture, though some examples use completely different photos for the paired effect. Short sentences, a mostly simple vocabulary, and the use of a large font against white space make these suitable for newer readers. VERDICT Appealing choices that the youngest nonfiction readers are sure to enjoy.

Johnson, Robin. Hoatzin.ISBN 9781039815322.
––––. Shoebill.ISBN 9781039815339.
Kohn, Samantha. Turkey Vulture.ISBN 9781039815346.
Rodger, Ellen. Crow.ISBN 9781039815315.
ea vol: 32p. (Odd Birds). Crabtree/Crown. Sept. 2023. Tr $30.60.
Gr 3-5–Creative design elements paired with well-chosen facts make this new series a stand out this season. Information is arranged around a series of spreads with photos, cartoons, word balloons, and other graphic features. Opening pages highlight physical features, habitats, and relatives within the bird family. Playful page headings and creative visual touches make the facts even more fun. Turkey vulture diet is presented as a restaurant menu on a tablecloth, for example, and a “crow family” spread depicts birds in picture frames that suggest a portrait wall. Beyond the whimsy, simple graphs and charts convey information effectively. Well-chosen fascinating facts appear throughout, occasionally delivered by a cartoon owl that appears in each book. Closing spreads include a tricky “Fact or Fiction” challenge and a fun “Battle of the Birds” that compares two species in terms of their relative oddness. VERDICT A creative and highly appealing combination of facts and visuals.

Koster, Gloria. Coyotes and Badgers Team Up!ISBN 9781669048640.
––––. Groupers and Moray Eels Team Up! ISBN 9781669048886.
Peters, Stephanie True. Polar Bears and Arctic Foxes Team Up! ISBN 9781669048800.
––––. Ravens and Wolves Team Up!ISBN 9781669048725.
ea vol: 32p. (Animal Allies). Capstone. Aug. 2023. Tr $31.32.
Gr 3-5–The animal pairs in this series work together to hunt and capture prey. After an opening chapter describing their teamwork in action, the individual creatures are introduced, with commonalities and differences noted. This leads into the process of their combined hunting efforts. Readers learn how complementary qualities, like the grouper’s speed and the moray’s eel’s ability to squeeze into tight spaces increase chances of success. The authors note that not all symbiotic relationships work the same, with clear focus on the practicality of cooperation in terms of survival. Photographs are useful, if not especially dynamic. Many focus on just one animal, though several show the two species teaming up, either during or after the hunt. Useful captions are attached to some, but not all photos. Closing pages note the threats facing both animals. VERDICT Well-executed introduction to animal symbiosis.

Maloney, Brenna. Cat or Tiger.ISBN 9781338899771.
––––. Dog or Wolf.ISBN 9781338899801.
––––. Gecko or Komodo Dragon.ISBN 9781338899863.
––––. Horse or Zebra.ISBN 9781338899832.
ea vol: 32p. (Wild World: Pets and Wild Animals). Scholastic/Children’s Pr. Sept. 2023. Tr $25.
Gr 3-5–Animals that can be kept as pets are compared with their wild counterparts. After a brief “Meet the Animals” section introduces the pair, text and photos present key areas of comparison, including physical features, habitats, diet, and other topics. In some cases, alternating two-page spreads focus on a single animal. Others compare the two side-by-side; color-coded pages neatly distinguish the varied presentations. Clear text, appealing photographs, and a good mixture of general information with specific facts provide strong overviews of both the wild and the domestic animal. Direct comparisons between the two are not made for the most part, but the strong organizational structure clearly leads readers to consider similarities and differences. A final “You Decide” page asks readers if they would rather be the wild or domestic animal, though that choice is not the focus of any of the preceding pages. VERDICT Fun topics for browsers.

Nugent, Samantha & Jared Siemens. Cat. ISBN 9781791155797.
––––. Dog.ISBN 9781791155827.
––––. Fish.ISBN 9781791155858.
––––. Hamster.ISBN 9781791155889.
Siemens, Jared. Bird.ISBN 9781791155766.
––––. Ferret.ISBN 9781791155940.
––––. Frog.ISBN 9781791155971.
––––. Guinea Pig.ISBN 9781791156008.
––––. Hedgehog.ISBN 9781791156039.
––––. Iguana.ISBN 9781791156060.
––––. Potbellied Pig.ISBN 9781791156091.
––––. Rabbit.ISBN 9781791155919.
ea vol: 24p. (Meet My Pet). Lightbox Learning/AV2. Aug. 2023. Tr $31.41.
Gr 1-3–Attractive photographs and basic information provide young children with a look at the challenges and rewards of pet ownership. On many spreads, a fact about the animal is paired with a task the child will need to take on: In Fish, for example, “My pet fish needs to live in clean water” is followed by “I will help clean the tank every week.” While occasionally over-generalized, as different breeds may have different needs, this structure provides a good summary of what owning each pet will entail. Most spreads are filled with a large, eye-catching photograph, capturing the visual appeal of each pet; some include examples of actual pet care activities. Occasionally, features mentioned in the text, such as the iguana’s cage, are not shown. Most books include two or more scenes showing children interacting with animals. VERDICT Appealing choices for prospective pet owners who don’t need actual care guides yet.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Bell, Samantha S. The Biggest Animals in the World.ISBN 9781678206123.
––––. The Fastest Animals in the World.ISBN 9781678206161.
MacCarald, Clara. The Smartest Animals in the World.ISBN 9781678206185.
––––. The Weirdest Animals in the World.ISBN 9781678206208.
Wolny, Philip. The Deadliest Animals in the World.ISBN 9781678206147.
ea vol: 64p. (Animal World). ReferencePoint/BrightPoint Pr. Sept. 2023. Tr $32.95.
Gr 3-7–Each book in this series examines four animals that exemplify the featured characteristic. “The Biggest Animals in the World,” for example, covers saltwater crocodiles, ostriches, African elephants, and blue whales. Each 12-page chapter provides a solid overview of the animal. Clearly written text addresses how each creature represents the overall topic, such as size or speed, describing how their physical features help with survival or hunting. Brief quotes from scientists add useful context, sometimes related to current research, such as a 2022 study of the impact of dams upon platypuses. Threats to population growth and current survival status are noted when applicable. Visual support is adequate, with half-page photos on some spreads. Most are full-body views, and some key features discussed in the text, such as the grizzly’s teeth and claws, are not highlighted in the photos. VERDICT Solid animal profiles, grouped into topics with high appeal.

Eason, Katherine. Bears and Their Food Chains.ISBN 9781915153746.
––––. Big Cats and Their Food Chains.ISBN 9781915153753.
––––. Big Snakes and Their Food Chains.ISBN 9781915153760.
––––. Crocodiles and Alligators and Their Food Chains.ISBN 9781915153777.
––––. Sharks and Their Food Chains.ISBN 9781915153722.
––––. Wolves and Their Food Chains.ISBN 9781915153739.
ea vol: 48p. (Food Chain Kings). Cheriton. Aug. 2023. Tr $31.99.
Gr 4-7–This set provides detailed information on the physical features and behaviors common to animals at the top of their food chains. In one title, readers learn about sharks’ most obvious assets, like teeth and speed, but also how nostrils, peripheral vision, and electricity detection help them capture prey. Well-chosen photographs, mostly half-page, highlight key physical features. Information about features common to the broad group neatly alternate with individual profiles of the hunting practices of five featured species per book. Each volume includes an interesting survey of the animals’ extinct relatives, plus a look at how threats to the populations of top predators can negatively impact their ecosystems. A closing “Ultimate Killer” spread compares the “food chain facts” of five examples and invites readers to decide which is most deadly. VERDICT Strong appeal for browsers and report writers.

Gish, Melissa. Alligators.ISBN 9781640265936.
––––. Antelopes.ISBN 9781640265943.
––––. Bats.ISBN 9781640265950.
––––. Bison.ISBN 9781640265202.
––––. Camels.ISBN 9781640265967.
––––. Chameleons.ISBN 9781640265974.
––––. Cougars.ISBN 9781640265981.
––––. Crocodiles.ISBN 9781640265226.
––––. Eagles.ISBN 9781640265240.
––––. Elephants.ISBN 9781640265257.
––––. Gorillas.ISBN 9781640265264.
––––. Hummingbirds.ISBN 9781640266001.
––––. Jaguars.ISBN 9781640266018.
––––. Kangaroos.ISBN 9781640265271.
––––. Komodo Dragons.ISBN 9781640265288.
––––. Leopards.ISBN 9781640265295.
––––. Monkeys.ISBN 9781640265301.
––––. Moose.ISBN 9781640266056.
––––. Orcas.ISBN 9781640266025.
––––. Owls.ISBN 9781640266063.
––––. Pandas.ISBN 9781640265318.
––––. Piranhas.ISBN 9781640266070.
––––. Rhinoceroses.ISBN 9781640266087.
––––. Sea Lions.ISBN 9781640266094.
––––. Sharks.ISBN 9781640265356.
––––. Tortoises.ISBN 9781640266124.
––––. Vultures.ISBN 9781640266131.
––––. Whales.ISBN 9781640266148.
––––. Woodpeckers.ISBN 9781640266155.
––––. Zebras.ISBN 9781640266162.
Hanel, Rachael.Cheetahs.ISBN 9781640265219.
––––. Koalas.ISBN 9781640266032.
––––. Lions.ISBN 9781640266049.
––––. Parrots.ISBN 9781640265325.
––––. Penguins.ISBN 9781640265332.
––––. Polar Bears.ISBN 9781640265349.
––––. Tigers.ISBN 9781640265363.
Helget, Nicole. Giraffes.ISBN 9781640265998.
––––. Swans.ISBN 9781640266117.
Skog, Jason. Dolphins.ISBN 9781640265233.
Wimmer, Teresa. Snakes.ISBN 9781640266100.
––––. Wolves.ISBN 9781640265370.
ea vol: 48p. (Living Wild). The Creative Company/Creative Education. Jul. 2023. Tr $44.25.
Gr 5-8–A first-rate animal series returns with updated editions. Each title provides a thorough, well-rounded profile of the featured animal, covering physical features, behavior, life cycles, and habitats, supported by well-chosen photographs and drawings. Historical events and popular culture tie-ins add context, along with a short folktale and poem. The writing is clear and engaging, with enough depth of information to match the curiosity of older elementary and middle school learners. Most, but not all, photographs were used in previous editions, with two-to-four new photos in each. This new set features revised layouts, redesigned range maps, and new covers to provide a nicely updated look. The text is largely unchanged, with the crucial exception of threatened status and species populations now reflecting 2020’s data. VERDICT Add individual titles to cover subject holes or consider the complete set as a strong, wide-ranging update to the animal shelves in your collection.

Markovics, Joyce. Apes.ISBN 9781668927861.
––––. Birds.ISBN 9781668927878.
––––. Dogs.ISBN 9781668927885.
––––. Dolphins.ISBN 9781668927892.
––––. Elephants.ISBN 9781668927908.
––––. Octopuses.ISBN 9781668927915.
ea vol: 24p. (Amazing Animal Minds). Cherry Lake Pr. Aug. 2023. Tr $30.64.
Gr 3-6–From an octopus “escape artist” to grieving elephants, this set explores many aspects of animal intelligence in an engaging fashion. Apes, for example, includes examples of tool use, vocabulary, communication, and memory. Each title opens with an especially intriguing example of animal intelligence, such as dogs’ ability to understand “fairness” and sleeping dolphins that sometimes mimic whales. Quotes from scientists and descriptions of their interactions with animals provide engaging insight into how humans have identified mental achievements of animals. The role of technology is woven neatly into the narratives, from iPad-using orangutans to the use of MRI’s to study dog intelligence. A closing “Scientist Spotlight” page highlights the work of a single animal expert. Most photographs relate directly to the behavior described in the text and many show animals interacting with scientists and other humans. VERDICT First-rate presentations on a fascinating topic.

While all the series above are worth considering for most library collections, two top picks stand out: “Odd Birds” (Crabtree) successfully demonstrates how creative visual elements and well-chosen facts can hook readers while also providing excellent and accessible content. “Amazing Animal Minds” (Cherry Lake) makes the complex topic of animal intelligence accessible and engaging. Several other sets provide useful opportunities to strengthen collections. The 42 updated “Living Wild” (Creative Education) titles offer libraries a chance to fill subject needs across the board with high-quality animal profiles. “Food Chain Kings” (Cheriton) introduces animal predators with enough depth to meet the learning needs of older elementary and middle school learners. For the youngest readers, “My First Animal Books” (Jump!) and “Animal Bodies” (Gareth Stevens) are accessible and visually appealing.



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