Skip to main content

What Animals Really Like, written and illustrated by Fiona Robinson


Having read to my own kids and at hundreds of story times at the bookstore where I work, one thing I can say for sure is that kids LOVE a book that seems to be following a familiar pattern but ultimately proves unpredictable. Mac Barnett and Adam Rex's Guess Again! is the perfect example of this subversion in action. David Ezra Stein's Interrupting Chicken and Jules Feiffer's Bark, George are also superb specimens of this phenomena. Add to this short list Fiona Robinson's What Animals Really Like.
First of all, Robinson's illustrations, along with the first and final spreads of the book, both of which are gatefold illustrations, making the picture a full four pages across instead of the usual two, are perfectly suited to the performance aspect of this book. Page one, above, lets us know that Mr Herbert Timberteeth, composer and conductor, is putting on a show. Turn the page and open the gatefold to reveal all the performers on the stage and ready to sing. Robinson's artwork is playfully and colofully cartoonish and filled with details. The animal groups begin to sing: 

We are lions, 
and we like to prowl.
We are wolves, 
and we like to howl.
We are pigeons, 
and we like to coo.
We are cows and we like to . . . 

This is the part that kids love. As I was reading it to my son he instinctively said, "Moo," at the end of the line. Boy, was he wrong! A turn of the page reveals cows who like to dig! Mr Timberteeth is perplexed, but the show must go on. Another four couplets ending with warthogs and a turn of the page reveals a love of bubble blowing.

Now Mr Timberteeth is bursting his buttons and screaming, "Stop! Stop! That's not my song." Note the glow worms in the shells lighting the stage...


The animals continue to express themselves. The lions like to arrange flowers, the horses like deep sea diving and, my favorite, the shrimp like skiing! One of the little shrimp even has three of her arm/legs in casts. Robinson is as creative as she is silly in her her story and pictures. The final pages of the book where all the animals are on stage doing what they like best are superb. The book ends with the animals singing in unison on a four page spread, "But most of all we like singing for you! Thank you for listening to our song!" Sometimes the book rhymes, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes you want to sing the text and sometimes you just read. The book itself is as much a free-for-all as the animals' performance, and that makes it even more fun to read out loud. I have no doubt that any animal loving, song loving little listener you know will be completely enchanted by the crazy collection of animals and their hobbies that Fiona Robinson has brought together for What Animals Really Like.



Fiona Robinson is also the author and illustrator of The Useful Moose.

Useful Moose: A Truthful, Moose-Full Tale

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started books4yourkids.com in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …