Book review by
Susan Fitzgerald, Common Sense Media
Mammalabilia Book Poster Image
Witty words with whimsical illustrations.

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

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there is nothing of concern in this book of humorous poems with inventive paintings.

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What's the story?

Twenty-one extraordinary poems about twenty-one extraordinary creatures! Witty words are whimsically accompanied by childlike illustrations of original mammals: an oddly shaped tapir, a sneaker-wearing rhebok, a bactrian camel donning a dapper hat. The spiraling word format reinforces the energy of the language.


Is it any good?

Douglas Florian's paintings -- done on primed brown paper bags -- energize the mammals, and his words cleverly describe their idiosyncrasies. The hippo who "eats and eats and eats and eats" has a table and a place setting inside his mouth. With the text "Madagascar leaping lemurs breeze through trees without breaking femurs," three gleeful primates fly off branches as crutches float around them.

For one 5-year-old reader, MAMMALIBILIA was a good introduction to animals he hadn't heard of before, and the silly verses encouraged him to remember some of the animals' characteristics, such as the lynx's sought-after coat and the tapir's hefty head. Florian presents wonderful examples of how cool words can be.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fun rhymes. Which lines and poems do you enjoy most? Parents can help children identify different elements in the structure of the poems and encourage kids to write their own animal-inspired poetry.

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