5.12.2016

Platypus by Sue Whiting, illustrated by Mark Jackson




I have been fascinated by the platypus since I was a kid. I tried to get my kids interested in them but, despite the fact that we are frequent visitors to one of the best zoos in the world and they were able to buy a small plastic replica of one, it was always really hard to find books on the platypus - and see it in person - making it hard to feed that interest. Now, with PlatypusSue Whiting has written a picture book that follows this secretive animal throughout its day while also adding fascinating facts along the way. Mark Jackson's illustrations perfectly suit this mysterious and rarely seen creature with his broad strokes and muted pallet.














Written in the two-level text style that I really like, Whiting sets the scene with this fantastic first sentence, "Beyond the snaking bend in the creek where the water lazes in a still green pool, a scraggly gum tree perches on the edge of the bank." Platypus already feels mysterious, and we haven't even seen this monotreme (an egg-laying mammal, a word I learned in the backmatter of Platypus) yet! The secondary text on the first page of Platypus tells readers that this creature is one of the most puzzling animals, so much so that when British scientists first studied it in 1799 they thought it was a fake.



Platypus continues on as the platypus, who is always moving, forages for food about twelve hours a day, storing fat in its tail - a thick, firm tail is a sign of a healthy platypus. Their sensitive bills act like radar and they store it in pouches in their cheeks. Mainly nocturnal, the platypus returns to his burrow and sleeps most of the day. Whiting cover nesting and egg-laying on a single two page spread, but goes into more detail (with illustrations) about the life of the platypus once it hatches from the egg, which is a big part of what makes this mammal so interesting. The backmatter also includes an index and more puzzling facts about the platypus.

Platypus is a great read out loud, but I think it is best discovered independently and read in the spirit of wonder that this monotreme inspires!

Source: Review Copy

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