Look Behind!

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Look Behind! Book Poster Image
Quirky alphabet tells truths of animal rear ends.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness
Language

No cursing, but every animal has "butt" for a last name in this book about animal rear ends.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that alphabetically arranged by first names, Butt is the last name of every animal in this book: Animal Butts to Zany Butts. Parents who are not put off by reading this word to kids over and over again will find that it's just as focused on science as it is on silliness.

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What's the story?

Every animal has a rear end. Besides being used for the excretory function, most have a secondary use: sitting, insulating, glowing, protecting, communicating, and so on. Some animals also use their skin, feathers, and exoskeletons for those same purposes, and a discussion of those is thrown in here and there. Thus we have Blubber Butt (Polar Bear), Invisible Butt (walking stick), Juicy Butt (Salamander), and Noisy Butt (Cow), to name a few. From A to Z, animals in this book are named for the way they use their behinds, and their skin and skeletons, and each unique function is explained in three or four simple, scientific sentences.

Is it any good?

Though this is a book mostly about butts, it is far from being bawdy. Lola Schaefer, and her co-author Heather Lynn Miller, have chosen a topic of interest to every young kid, and used it to impart some very intriguing scientific facts that few people know. On top of that, combining the crazy format of an alphabet book with some rather silly cartoon-like illustrations and filling them out with sentences that plainly explain actual functions and reasons could be called pure genius.

This is not Schaefer's first book of intriguing science facts for kids, though it may be the silliest. She has written many, including Arrowhawk, which was selected as a 2005 Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about many things as they progress through this book. First, though least important, they will want to discuss their family attitude toward the word "butt." After they get past that hurdle, they will all enjoy learning amazing facts about rear-end functions of the different animals. How do we use our rear ends? How about a lightning bug? Or a shingleback lizard?

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