cover image What Animals Really Like

What Animals Really Like

Fiona Robinson. Abrams, $15.95 (24p) ISBN 978-0-8109-8976-4

After a title page announces “A New Song Composed & Conducted by Mr. Herbert Timberteeth,” an opening gatefold reveals a huge cast of animals on a proscenium stage, organized in prim little groups as if for a recital. And the song that follows, directed by Timberteeth (a beaver), would fit right in at an elementary school performance, as the animals sing about stereotypical “likes” (“We are lions, and we like to prowl./ We are wolves, and we like to howl”). But the proceedings (and the rhyme scheme) turn anarchic when the animals reveal their actual interests: after the pigeons sing that they like to “coo,” the cows reveal that they like to... dig. Owing both to the flummoxed metanarrative of Mo Willems’s Pigeon books and to the gleeful non sequiturs of Mac Barnett and Adam Rex’s Guess Again! Robinson’s (The 3-2-3 Detective Agency) story will keep children giggling at the beaver’s frustrated reactions and the animals’ unpredictable preferences—such as shrimp that ski (“[W]e just got our photos back. Here we are in Switzerland”) and monkeys that enjoy all-you-can-eat buffets. Encore! Ages 4–8. (Oct.)