You’re a pretty big kid.
You’re bigger than a baby, of course. You’re taller than you were last year; much taller than two years ago. Next fall, it’ll be the same thing: you just keep growing.
But no matter how big you get, you’ll still feel sad when people look at you funny. In the new book “Carnivores” by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Dan Santat, you’ll see that even the biggest, most ferocious animals can “get their feelings hurt.”
Very few things in the world are scarier than lions, sharks and wolves. The lion is King of the Jungle, right? Everybody’s terrified of seeing a shark underwater. And the howl of a wolf? Your spine tingles when you hear it.
So imagine how terrible those fierce beasts felt when the other animals gave them nasty looks, talked behind their backs, made up mean rumors about them or sneered at them. It didn’t feel good because they just couldn’t help having sharp claws, big fangs or “scary eyes.” That’s just the way they were.
Because nobody else would make friends with the lion, the wolf or the shark, the three carnivores befriended one another. Pretty soon, they started discussing their problem and the wolf suggested that they become vegetarians. Maybe, if they didn’t eat the other animals, the other animals might like them better.
But salad has a way of getting lodged in teeth. Seaweed tastes really yucky. And it’s simply impossible to avoid bunnies when you’re hunting for berries. Being vegetarians was absolutely not going to work.
Then the shark thought maybe camouflage was a great idea. But the lion got caught because he had “zebra breath,” and the wolf drooled. That made it hard to hide in plain sight, so camo wouldn’t work, either.
Then the lion thought of an idea: The owl was a predator. Had been for years, and lots of animals liked him. Maybe they could ask the owl how he coped with rumors, nasty looks and whispers. He’d know how to turn a bad reputation around. The wise old owl would surely have a few delicious ideas.
No doubt about it kids love sharks, lions, wolves, gators — anything fierce and with teeth. That makes “Carnivores” perfect to bite into.
I absolutely loved the silliness inside this story. Reynolds lets the predators be the victims here, which puts a sort of Woody-Allen spin on the poor, beleaguered meat-eaters. It’s hilarious to see each carnivore as he tries not to hurt the feelings of the animals he’s about to invite to dinner, so to speak.
This story itself is perfectly pulled together by the illustrations from Santat. Your child will probably point them out to you, but be sure to pay close attention to the details in this book. They are ferociously cute.
Kids 5 to 8 are going to howl at this book and grown-ups who get to read aloud will enjoy it, too. If your child loves things that fight and bite, “Carnivores” will be a big hit.
View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children weekly.