Children's Literature - Judy Crowder
Whether it is a nest, burrow, cave, reef, tunnel or convenient shell, every critter needs and lives in a home of some sort. This fact is charmingly illustrated in this book by Irene Kelly, who provides the young reader with enough information about animal habitats to satisfy even the most curious. What a diverse collection of animal homes can be found in this well-written book! Some homes are semi-permanent: bees and wasps build elaborate hives, weaver birds literally weave an intricate nest, termites and ants construct towers or hills with tunnels, special rooms and accommodations for their queens, all with air vents that keep the air circulating. Beaver lodges are remarkably sturdy. Coral reef dwellers find homes among the corals with a diverse neighborhood full of critters; bears must find homes to accommodate their winter sleep. Other homes are temporary: chimpanzees prefer a different tree top bed every night, tortoises and turtles have their houses on their backs but burrow into the ground when severe weather strikes. Some home-builders enjoy company, such as monk parakeets who make apartment-house nests or pistol shrimp who allow goby fish to move in as an early warning system for predators. The author even encourages readers to look at mobile homes in new lighthermit crabs, and land snails, as well as diving bell spiders, who construct their own underwater homes that drift with the current. This charming book even includes homes few have heard ofHonduran white bats eat the veins of leaves, the leaves curl up and as many as twelve bats can sleep in these green tents. Ringed seals spend much of their time on shore or in the water, but they also use their flippers' claws to carve out snowdrift caves. This is the kind of book that can grow with a young reader, from a charmingly illustrated "look at" book to one that is stuffed with information for the older reader who wants to know more. It would be a welcome addition to any public or private library. Reviewer: Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Using illustrations done in watercolor, gouache, and pen and ink, Kelly introduces various animal homes. She divides the residences into categories: tree houses, towers, lodges, caves, burrows, floating and mobile homes, and bubbles. Some are familiar; others are more unusual, like the monk parakeet's treetop apartment buildings. The artist's palette skillfully broadens to accommodate each habitat, from the Great Barrier Reef to the brown bear's winter den. The well-labeled paintings are realistic and range from close-ups to a span of ocean floor. The baby bat peeping out from its mother's wing embrace is charming. The informational bits are ideal in length; they're great for fast-fact lovers but will tease out further study in many cases. The important message of environmental stewardship—"all animals…need homes for the same reason: to have a safe and snug place to live and raise a family"—should resonate with children.—Gay Lynn Van Vleck, Henrico County Library, Glen Allen, VA
Building on her successful Even an Ostrich Needs a Nest (2009), Kelly expands the concept to describe how others in the animal world make and find safe places for rest, safety and rearing their young.
From chimpanzees building temporary sleeping platforms each night to male Siamese fighting fish hiding eggs in a mass of bubbles, the author-illustrator offers a wide variety of examples. These are loosely organized by type: A tree house, tower, lodge, cave, burrow or bubble can serve as a temporary or permanent home. It might even be floating or mobile. Illustrations done in watercolor, gouache, pen and ink surround an informal narrative set in wavy lines on each page. There are a few missteps: The bee's comb has both honey and larvae, although brood combs are usually separate from honey combs. Text about bats sleeping in caves is illustrated with flying fox bats hanging from trees. Careful reading reveals that the nests, cells, tunnels and dens the author describes are used for nightly beds, places for hatching eggs and raising families or protective hideaways, but not always all three. The conclusion, calling these places where animals "live," supports a common misunderstanding of animal behavior.
Animals do not have "homes" as humans do. For the intended audience that cozy connection is an unfortunate oversimplification in an otherwise appealing title. (Informational picture book. 5-9)