Monday, October 20, 2014

Nonfiction Monday: Tracks Count: A guide to Counting Animal Prints by Steve Engel, illustrated by Alexander Petersen

Small press Craigmore Creations focuses on geology and other nature-themed titles. This is part of their "Little Naturalists" series.

An introduction "for the grown-ups" by David R. Shapiro opens the book with an explanation of how to read tracks and how they are arranged for the book.

Each spread introduces a number and corresponding tracks with a little interactive counting. For example, on the page for three, there is a large numeral 3, then "Rhinoceros" then a rhinoceros footprint. Under that, the text reads "On the hot savannah, three rhinoceros rest under a tree. Count the toes on the track - one, two, three! The page of text and the illustration of the track is paired with a picture on the right in brown hues featuring the animals in their habitat.

A final spread shows the numbers from 1-10 with tracks for each (three rhino tracks under the three, etc.). Another spread lists the animals' scientific names and a short paragraph of information about each.

The art is not the usual colorful, bright pictures of a children's book, but there is something attractive about the simple, natural sketches and soft charcoal shading. The tracks are clearly drawn and make it easy to count the toes, which make up the counting exercises.

The big problem I usually have with this type of unique concept book is that it's developmentally way above the age of children who need concept books. This one works pretty well though. Very young children can count the toes on the tracks and identify the animals, and older kids who are beyond the counting part can enjoy identifying the tracks.

Verdict: There are a lot of animal track books out there, but this is a fun combination of animals tracks and counting. If you have fans of either, this would make a good addition to your library.

ISBN: 9781940052076; Published 2014 by Craigmore Creations; Review copy provided by the publisher; Donated to the library

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