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All About Animals

The Hot Off the Press Spotlight segment showcases new books from our current Hot Off the Press list to further assist parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and other book enthusiasts in finding engaging books for all types of readers.

Whether in a thoughtful treatise about protecting habitats or a zany fictionalized world in which bears wear shoes and pigs drive cars, animals are timeless favorites when it comes to book subjects. Putting animals front and center can teach us how to make friends, protect our planet, and take care of our own bodies—not to mention, make us feel more connected to the world around us. Our March Hot Off the Press list shows off its feathers, fur, and scales with a whole bevy of animalia.

All Aboard the Alaska Train, by Brooke Hartman; illus. by John Joseph (Red Comet Press) — Fiction, Picture Book, Animals, Humor, Imagination / Play, ages 4-6.

Toot toot! Come aboard the Alaska Train for a rollicking rhyming adventure with Alaska’s favorite animals!

Five shiny train cars roll down the railroad track, picking up passengers along the way—a porcupine, grizzly bear, caribou, and more. Soon the cars are packed, but now the train must go up a tall mountain. Will the Alaska Train reach its destination?

All Aboard the Alaska Train takes you on a rumbling journey as you zoom across the tracks and meet some of the state’s most famous animal residents. Included at the back is a glossary of the parts of a train, plus more information about the famous Alaska Train and a map of its route.

Animal Albums from A to Z, written & illustrated by Cece Bell (Candlewick Press) — Fiction, Picture Book, Animals, Music / Art, Concepts, ages 4-6.

Cece Bell loves music and collecting old record albums, her introduction explains, especially albums featuring animal artists. The bouncing harmonies of the Barbershop Beagles, the elegant crooning of the elephant Ella Fontaine, the hilarious rhymes of the Hip-Hop Hedgehogs—all are represented in this quirky ABC book that draws on the creator’s personal collection of albums, memorabilia, and lyrics dating between 1944 and 1984, the heyday of album design. With wry, witty text, silly and sumptuous sound play, and biographical end matter on all twenty-six musical acts, the book commands and stands up to repeated readings. Bright, zany art—all painted and lettered by hand—a stellar design, and an album-size trim make it a collector’s item in its own right, sure to grace the coffee tables of vinyl- and design-loving adults even as it tickles young funny bones. A hootenanny hosted by the creator of the Newbery Honor Book and Eisner Award winner El Deafo, Animal Albums from A to Z also quietly reminds us just how much music can mean to everyone.

From the inimitable creator of El Deafo, this all-ages alphabet book is also a hand-wrought, high-fidelity, hilariously tongue-in-cheek homage to the golden days of album cover art.

Animal Yoga, by Flowerpot Press; illus. by Brian Fitzgerald (Flowerpot Press) — Nonfiction, Board Book, Sports / Games / Recreation, Mental / Physical Health, Imagination / Play, ages 4-6.

Get up and get moving with these active animal friends!

Teach your little one the power of moving their body each day with these fun yoga-inspired stretches made just for little kids. Each workout is explained on the left side of the page and the corresponding illustrations show kids just what to do. Pretty soon your child will learn the movements and enjoy coming back to them time and time again!

A Better Best Friend, written & illustrated by Olivier Tallec (Gecko Press) — Fiction, Picture Book, Friendships, Animals, Humor, ages 4-6.

A feel-good picture book about best friendship told with dry comedy and an open ending–squirrel and mushroom are best friends until another best friend comes to play.

“This morning when I was out walking, I found a best friend. At least I think so. It certainly looks a lot like it! He really has a best friend kind of face.”

In this funny picture book exploring a forever childhood question about friendship, squirrel and a mushroom explore the forest through the seasons, show each other special trees, build snow mushrooms, share the good times and bad–which become good bad times alongside a friend.

Then spring arrives, and so does a new friend. And then another. This raises a profound question for an overthinking squirrel: should we have just one best friend?

Extinctopedia!, by Serenella Quarello; illus. by Alessio Alcini (Red Comet Press) — Nonfiction, Prose, Environment / Sustainability / Recycling, Animals, Science / Nature, ages 7-12.

A Smithsonian collaboration—this journey of discovery through the animal kingdom, past and present, provides a call for us to learn more and take steps to save the amazing diversity of our planet.

Every living creature contributes towards the richness and beauty of our planet. Each one has a reason to exist, from the giant panda to the pygmy possum, and if we lose them, it will be forever. Extinctopedia tells a complex story, not just of those who are extinct, but also of those in greatest peril, with explanations of what threatens their survival. It is also a story of hope—for animals who have been rediscovered, hope in the form of newly-discovered animals, and hope that we might hear the warning call and act to preserve the amazing biodiversity of our fragile planet for future generations to come. 

Extinctopedia provides a fascinating catalog of life on earth and encourages the reader to find ways of preserving the incredible diversity of species, so we may all thrive and life itself can endure on this amazing and beautiful planet.

Home, written & illustrated by Isabelle Simler; translated by Vineet Lal (Eerdmans Publishing / Eerdmans Books for Young Readers) — Nonfiction, Poetry / Stories in Verse, Animals, Science / Nature, STEM / STEAM, ages 4-6.

A spectacular tour through the dwellings of twenty-seven different animals, from a hermit crab’s secondhand shell to a beaver’s lakeside dam to a comet moth’s silk cocoon.

Acclaimed creator Isabelle Simler presents a poetic journey through amazing animal homes across the world. In Europe, alpine marmots stay safe in underground refuges. In southeast Asia, Sumatran orangutans doze off in treetop bedrooms. In Mexico and the southwestern US, elf owls nest in holes in saguaro cacti. On every continent but Antarctica, honeybees mold wax into palaces for their queens. No matter where you travel, some creature is making an extraordinary place to call home. With connections to life cycles, camouflage, and other biological concepts, Home is a spellbinding showcase of the wonders of the natural world. Enchanting poetry, fascinating back matter, and intricately detailed art invite young readers to be amazed by the creativity and diversity of our animal neighbors.

How Cats Say I Love You / Cómo los gatos dicen te quiero, by Guy Brown; illus. by Davide Ortu (Platypus Media) — Nonfiction, Picture Book, Animals, Kindness / Generosity, Spanish, ages 7-12.

Cats have a lot to say! They curl their tails when they’re curious and crouch low when they’re ready to play. Sometimes they like to be left alone, other times they want lots of cuddles! In this bilingual (English/Spanish) edition of How Cats Say I Love You, visit homes from around the world to meet silly, sassy cats and their human pals. As each kid cares for their furry friend, they think of healthy ways to share their own feelings with the people they love.

How to Help a Hare and Protect a Polar Bear, by Dr. Jess French; illus. by Angela Keoghan (Nosy Crow) — Nonfiction, Picture Book, Environment / Sustainability / Recycling, Science / Nature, Animals, ages 7-12.

From beetles and butterflies to porpoises and polar bears, animals and habitats all over the world need our protection. This book is full of simple everyday ways for you to help save the environment.

Learn how to help critters in your own backyard or spread the word about endangered animals further from home, as you discover all the little things you can do to make a big difference. Featuring creatures from 9 incredible different habitats: forests, deserts, swamps, freshwater, coastlines, oceans, savannahs, jungles, and mountains.

Filled with animal facts and plenty of practical, creative little ways that nature enthusiasts can make a BIG difference.

Leo the Lazy Lizard, by Ed Shankman; illus. by David Michael O’Neill (Arcadia Publishing / Arcadia Children’s Books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Friendships, Mental / Physical Health, Animals, ages 4-6.

From the dynamic duo behind The Lake I Love and I Met a Moose in Maine One Day comes a moving and unforgettable tale of mindfulness, friendship, and discovering the magic of letting yourself just be . . . 

Leo the lizard spends his days relaxing in the desert sand, gazing at the sky, and basking in the sun. The other desert animals think Leo is lazy, but the roadrunner isn’t so sure . . . could it be that Leo has learned something the others have not? Perhaps there is more to this lazy-looking lizard than truly meets the eye? 

With its playfully melodic rhymes and stunning desert illustrations, Leo the Lazy Lizard invites readers of all ages to discover the beauty of quiet moments—to smell every scent, feel every breeze, and love how they feel ’cause they feel so at ease! A true celebration of mindfulness, connection, and learning to appreciate the things that make us all so wonderfully unique, Leo the Lazy Lizard will delight families for generations to come!

Mammals Unlocked / Mamíferos descubiertos, by Dia L. Michels; illus. by Bonnie Hofkin (Science, Naturally!) — Nonfiction, Prose, Animals, Science / Nature, Spanish, ages 7-12.

Unlock the wild world of mammals, now in English and Spanish!

Fuzzy, scaly, clawed, and finned—mammals can be found in the depths of the ocean and the heights of the mountains. Mammals Unlocked / Mamíferos descubiertos illuminates the vastness of the mammal world in a simple, interactive question-and-answer format.

How wide can a hippo open its mouth? When does a camel need water? How does a platypus fight? Read the answers to all these secrets and more!

This first bilingual book in the Open Earth series is a dynamic introduction to class Mammalia, perfect for any kid who’s fascinated by mammals big and small. Discover all the facts you need in order to wow your friends, impress your teachers, and dazzle your dog! Mammals Unlocked / Mamíferos descubiertos is sure to stimulate and challenge even the most knowledgeable animal lover.

No Cats In The Library, written & illustrated by Lauren Emmons (Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Animals, Family / Community, Humor, ages 4-6.

A stray cat follows her love of books all the way to a new library home in this charming debut picture book that’s “catnip for librarians and young book lovers alike” (School Library Journal, starred review).

Clarisse is a clever cat who loves books. She may not understand the dark, squiggly lines, but she can’t get enough of the pictures. One day, she stumbles upon a magical building where people walk in empty-handed and come out with an armload of books. She has to find a way inside!

There’s just one problem: NO CATS are allowed in the library! That’s not going to stop clever Clarisse, though. Once she sneaks in, she stumbles upon exciting new stories and even helps a little girl practice reading aloud. But when the librarian comes looking, will Clarisse be allowed to stay?

Peggy the Always Sorry Pigeon, by Wendy Meddour; illus. by Carmen Saldaña (Little Bee Books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Mental / Physical Health, Humor, Animals, ages 4-6.

This book is about growing in confidence and getting out of the habit of saying sorry for absolutely everything!

Peggy is an apologetic pigeon. She automatically says she’s sorry for everything, even when she hasn’t done anything wrong, or when she’s the one getting picked on. But Joan, a seagull who sees the trouble this is causing for Peggy, gives her a nudge to stand up for herself. This tale from award-winning author Wendy Meddour contains an important message about the importance of being assertive.

A Penguin Like Me, written & illustrated by Marcus Pfister (NorthSouth Books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Cultural Diversity, Family / Community, Animals, ages 4-6.

A penguin is a penguin is a penguin in this picture book about community and acceptance, from best-selling author of The Rainbow Fish Marcus Pfister!

At first glance, all penguins look the same. But a closer look reveals that every penguin is different. Theo is the smartest of them all, but doesn’t want to show it. Felix has short wings, Sarah loves to draw more than talk, and Lena is attracted to Ida. Each penguin has worries and fears, strengths and dreams. And yet, together they form a community.

Amid a picturesque ice landscape with colors ranging from cool to radiantly warm, Marcus Pfister introduces a diverse penguin society in which everyone is allowed to be themself.

The Slug and the Snail, by Oein DeBharduin; illus. by Olya Anima (Little Island Books) — Fiction, Picture Book, Folklore / Fairytales / Myths, Family / Community, Animals, ages 4-6.

Drawn from the Irish Traveller storytelling tradition, DeBhairduin’s tale is a gentle allegory about identity, self-acceptance and different ways of seeing the world.

Two slugs travel happily together until they meet a crow who asks them where their home is. The younger brother, embarrassed, makes himself a shell, and calls himself snail. The older brother carries on as he is. At first, the brothers grow apart. But in time, they learn to respect each other’s way of life.

For more great book suggestions, be sure to check out the full March Hot Off the Press list!

List compiled by CBC’s resident book connoisseur, Brooke Pisarsky. Check out other Hot Off the Press Spotlight book lists on our blog.

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