Animals Are Delicious: 3 Foldout Food Chain Books

No worries, vegetarians. Animals Are Delicious is not a pro-carnivore manifesto. It is, however, a reflection of who's eating who, the food chain in action, in three alluring board books--Sky, Forest and Ocean. Each book identifies hungry animals that (mostly) eat other animals, stretches out accordion-style into a reversible six-foot-long book, and fits snugly into a colorful case.

The first volume, Sky, begins: "High in the sky, everyone is hungry." The woolly apple aphid eats the elm's green leaves, "but someone else is hungry...." Turn the page: "A ladybug! The spotted ladybug eats the woolly apple aphid, but someone else is hungry...." "A swallow! The barn swallow eats the spotted ladybug, but someone else is hungry...." This fun, repetitive, interactive format makes these books excellent read-aloud prospects, and, lest the squeamish are fearful, actual animal-gobbling is never shown. Cleverly, each book ends with a jaunty cumulative sentence, such as in Forest: "CHOMP! The bobcat eats the fox, who ate the skunk, who ate the shrew," etc.

The animals, all handmade figurines, float, fly or creep in crisp, colorful photographs of three-dimensional scenes mostly made of paper. The figurines are sometimes suspended with visible white strings for the flight or swimming scenes (in Ocean). The artwork is bright, cheerful, and somehow intrinsically comical... just as pointing out that these animals are just plain hungry softens the brutality of crunching on a creature that was alive just minutes ago.

Each book's flip side lists additional delicacies each animal likes to eat. (The great horned owl's "menu," for instance, features rabbits, geese and raccoons.) Is it time for a snack? --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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