cover image Animal Architects

Animal Architects

Amy Cherrix, illus. by Chris Sasaki. Beach Lane, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-5344-5625-9

Inviting readers to view the natural world as a “construction zone,” Cherrix (In the Shadow of the Moon) looks at animals, insects, and invertebrates that build unusual dwelling places. Ants, bees, and termites construct ingenious hives in these pages; an alert-looking harvest mouse uses grass to weave a nest suspended between reeds; a bowerbird festoons its bower to attract a mate. Each highlighted species receives two spreads with text that provides plenty of chewy factoids (a beaver “can gnaw through a tall tree in just three minutes!”). Levels of detail vary, however: text about the Great Barrier Reef mentions that “tiny larvae have been building” it, but not how, while pages on the trapdoor spider detail its hunting mechanism: when an insect steps on strands that “fan out from the burrow... the burrow vibrates like a silent doorbell.” Similarly, layered art by Sasaki (Sakamoto’s Swim Club) focuses on visual impact and natural beauty, sometimes over architectural process (a finished beaver dam is pictured in stylized forms that may be difficult for young readers to scan, while an ant colony and prairie dog town provide more granular detail). A bibliography points to resources with more information. Ages 3–8. Author’s agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Sept.)