It's written almost as a conversation with a small child, explaining the classification of animals and mammals in particular. Simple pictures, showing a biracial family (white father, darker-skinned mother), begin the story. As the father and two children take a walk, the discussion begins. A mammal is an animal, but not all animals are mammals. One by one, the definition is made more specific - an animal eats, breathes, moves, and grows. Invertebrates are animals, but they are not mammals - they do not have hard parts mostly on the inside, like a skeleton. Fish have skeletons, but don't breathe oxygen, like whales. Frogs and snakes breathe oxygen, but are cold-blooded. Birds keep warm with feathers, breathe oxygen, and have skeletons, but they lay eggs. The dialogue ends with a spread of the family, the mother nursing a baby, as the reader finds out that humans are mammals too.
Back matter includes some unique mammals, like monotremes, more mammal facts, a tree of life diagram, and sources. Rockwell's art is simple and clear, with light colors and defined lines. In addition to the main text, inset sections add more information and vocabulary about specific animals and their bodies.
Verdict: Perfect for use in storytime or classrooms, this well-written explanation of animal and mammal classification might even be useful for helping adults understand the concept (looking at YOU friend who did not know what an amphibian was....)
ISBN: 9780823436705; Published February 2018 by Holiday House; Borrowed from another library in my consortium