The first time I read this book I didn't like it. Why? Well, on the first spread there's a rhyming riddle "Look very closely/what do you see?/Sand dunes?/Pussy willow?/What could it be?" and the facing page shows a section of a photograph. You turn the page and the bold heading identifies the photograph, "It's a squirrel monkey" and then gives several paragraphs of information about the subject and the facing page shows a detailed photograph.
The first thing that went through my head was that this book was too old and too young. Toddlers who would enjoy the simple riddle rhymes wouldn't sit still for the lengthy informational paragraphs. Elementary-age children who would sit still for the paragraph were going to roll their eyes at the "baby rhymes."
Then I realized I was being inflexible and silly, not realizing how very, very useful this book could be with a little adaptation! Toddlers - read the rhymes and let them guess, then turn the page and help them identify the photograph. End of story, everyone has fun! Older kids, don't read the rhymes and just ask them to identify the circled section - then turn the page and read the information. They'll love it! First and second graders love guessing games, if they're not too babyish.
Now that I've wrapped my mind around it, this is a gorgeously photographed book that will work equally well for toddler storytime, school visits, and educational use by teachers. I am off to check out the other books in this series!
Verdict: Highly recommended, especially if you work with a range of ages.
ISBN: 978-1553375432; Published August 2010 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates