cover image Creep, Leap, Crunch! A Food Chain Story

Creep, Leap, Crunch! A Food Chain Story

Jody Jensen Shaffer, illus. by Christopher Silas Neal. Knopf, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-593-56552-0

Earth’s food chain begins “with the help of the sun,/ the glorious, life-giving, fiery sun,” which helps plants create sustenance. Bright, sound-rich rhyming verse engages throughout as the sun rises, the day progresses, and Jensen Shaffer ([em]Emergency Kittens![/em]) works her way up the chain. Silas Neal (All’s Right with the World) zooms in close to watch a cricket munching on plant life, and a page turn reveals a deer mouse eyeing the insect (“The mouse from the thicket/ gobbled the cricket”). Each new event joins earlier lines, cumulatively repeating those that describe the plants and the “glorious, life-giving, fiery sun.” A milk snake rears up behind the mouse, a hawk pursues the snake, a fox stalks the hawk, and a bear follows the fox until “this day was now done.” But capture isn’t inevitable. “Some days,” the prey escapes (“The cricket that’s fast/ hops away from the mouse”), and final pages visualize this truth, underscoring the roles that chance and speed play in the natural world. In this useful look at the food chain, readers see predator and prey together but never the moment of devouring, making for a STEM portrait suited to even sensitive readers. Back matter provides more about the featured flora and fauna. Ages 4–8. (Dec.)