Jul 25, 2019

An Irresistible Nonfiction Winner by Melissa Stewart

Peachtree Books, 2018
Here's a recent picture book that will win fans at any age.  PIPSQUEAKS, SLOWPOKES, and STINKERS: Celebrating Animal Underdogs is written by the superb and prolific nonfiction author, Melissa Stewart. The illustrations by Stephanie Laberis are as appealing and impressive as the sparkling text.

Just look at that title! It speaks for itself about the delightful vocabulary, wordplay, humor, and figurative language that lifts this nonfiction picture book to that special category of books capable of entertaining as thoroughly as they instruct. Stewart's many awards attest to the ways in which she has refined her talent in this arena. It is on full display with this presentation. Stewart presents ways that some less-than-familiar animals use oddities of size, coloration, body parts, aroma, behaviors, and other traits that fall far outside those considered "cute". The illustrations by Stephanie Laberis manage to capture Stewart's lighthearted but accurate descriptions of animal adaptations that have allowed these unusual critters to survive beyond the more-familiar types of "camouflage". 
For example: instead of "small" or "tiny", there's a variety of frog who could "perch on your pinkie", "puny peewees" pursued by predators with huge teeth and razor-sharp claws. These alliterative phrasings and word choices delight on the first read and invite MANY repeated readings, including as mentor text for young writers. 

As is typical of Stewart's books, the back matter offers cameo illustrations of each of the twelve featured creatures with short accessible paragraphs revealing added facts. 
Stewart's dedication is to kids who feel bullied with a reminder that what others may see as weaknesses may actually be a strength. Laberis carries that thought forward to the various critters who have been served in a favorite wildlife hospital. Additional writing insights and teaching resources are available from Stewarts  website, where readers will find an abundance of titles that win hearts to science, and a reassure of resources for teaching and extending learning related to this book and her other titles.

Don't miss this stellar nonfiction picture book for any age. While you're at it, you may want to take a look at some of my previous posts involving amazing science writers, adaptations, predators/prey.

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