Dolphin, Fox, Hippo, and Ox: What Is a Mammal? (Animal Groups Are Categorical)
By: Brian P. Cleary
Illustrated by: Brian Gable
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publicatio Date: August 2012
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 13, 2013
When young students begin to read nonfiction for the first time, it’s oftentimes more interesting to introduce the topic in a more exciting fashion. Brian P. Cleary has started to introduce, in his new series of CATegorical books, the topic of animals. Many of us are more familiar with his reading and math series, which also appeal to the same age group and are of high interest to the reluctant reader. The vibrant, exiting, and somewhat zany artwork brings Cleary’s verse alive beckoning the young reader to come take an introductory look at mammals and find out just what they are. Newly independent readers can tackle the text with assistance while confident readers should be able to work through the verse with little difficulty.
A CATegorical cat always introduces the topic at hand at his easel in the front of the book. The pink cat, all decked out in green (including a green bow in her hair), shows us that a mammal is “An animal that has fur or hair and drinks its mother’s milk as a baby.” After the title page things become more alluring as the CATegorical cats come alive in a classroom ready to introduce the hows and whys of mammals as opposed to other critters such as birds and reptiles. “A mammal is an animal / with quite distinctive features / that make it very different / from a host of other creatures.” The book continues on in its wild and highly appealing manner giving out facts about mammals that are sure to catch the fancy and the eye of the youngest readers.
This is a marvelous and somewhat zany introduction to mammals for young readers. Keep in mind that this is an introduction, via what some call the “new nonfiction,” that is designed to get very young students excited and interested in a specific topic. This is not a text that goes into specifics, but does cover the basics. Names of specific mammals are highlighted in bright colors in the main text. In the back of the book is a two-page spread which covers facts about mammals in a more straightforward manner, one that can be used as a stepping stone for classroom or homeschool instruction. This is one of six in the series, Animal Groups Are CATegorical that you may wish to add to your collection!
Quill says: If you have young or reluctant readers you'd like to introduce animal science to, this is a wonderful series that will do just that!