The best children’s books about interesting animals

Janet Lawler Author Of Walrus Song
By Janet Lawler

Who am I?

I am an award-winning children’s author who has always been fascinated by the natural world. My many published children’s books include ones about animals and ocean life. Scholastic Book Clubs and the Children’s Book of the Month Club have featured my work, and translations of my fiction and nonfiction titles can be found in several languages, including Spanish, Japanese, and Hebrew. My National Geographic title Ocean Counting was named an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the National Science Teachers Association and Walrus Song has been named a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection.


I wrote...

Walrus Song

By Janet Lawler, Timothy Basil Ering (illustrator),

Book cover of Walrus Song

What is my book about?

Walrus Song is a lyrical nonfiction picture book about a unique arctic mammal. Dive right in with noisy Walrus as he plays with puffins, lounges on ice, devours clams, and makes lots of noise! Honk, honkkkk! HOOO, HOOOOT! Squee! Squee, SQWEEE! Toot, TOOT! 

Did you know that a walrus can eat more than four thousand clams in a feeding frenzy? That some walruses weigh more than a car? That walrus tusks sometimes grow more than 3 feet long? Timothy Basil Ering’s stunning art takes you right into Walrus’s arctic world to learn more in Walrus Song.

The books I picked & why

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Fourteen Monkeys: A Rain Forest Rhyme

By Melissa Stewart, Steve Jenkins (illustrator),

Book cover of Fourteen Monkeys: A Rain Forest Rhyme

Why this book?

I love how master children’s nonfiction author Melissa Stewart instantly engages readers with two rhyming lines introducing each of fourteen rain forest monkeys. Each spread, beautifully illustrated by Steve Jenkins, includes additional facts and a clever rain forest silhouette keyed to show where each species dwells (there’s room for all!). Well-organized, kid-friendly back matter offers many more facts and resources about pygmy marmosets, capuchins, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, and more from Peru’s Manú National Park. They are all different, but all can live together — a great lesson from the rainforest!

Fourteen Monkeys: A Rain Forest Rhyme

By Melissa Stewart, Steve Jenkins (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fourteen Monkeys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Travel to a tropical rainforest where fourteen species of monkeys live in harmony in this playful, fact-filled book from award-winning author Melissa Stewart and Caldecott honoree Steve Jenkins.

In Manú National Park in Peru, an amazing fourteen different species of monkeys live together. That’s more than in any other rainforest in the world! How can they coexist so well? Find out in this lyrical, rhyming picture book that explores each monkey’s habits, diet, and home, illustrating how this delicate ecosystem and its creatures live together in harmony. From howler monkeys to spider monkeys to night monkeys, young readers will love…


Wombat

By Christopher Cheng, Liz Duthie (illustrator),

Book cover of Wombat

Why this book?

I really enjoy learning about animals that I don’t see every day. When I picked up Wombat, I was hooked by the cover illustration of this adorable Australian marsupial. Then I was engaged by many interesting facts as I shared a busy day with this tunnel-digging fellow. Who wouldn’t want to read a book about a cute animal that leaves cube-shaped poop on rocks and stumps?!  Chen’s engaging text is perfectly complemented by Liz Duthie’s illustrations. 

Wombat

By Christopher Cheng, Liz Duthie (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wombat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Learn all about the Australian “bulldozer of the bush” in a fascinating introduction to the wombat.

Wombats may look soft and cuddly, but they are determined and tough, with sharp teeth that never stop growing, limbs that they use to shovel dirt like bulldozers, and bony bottoms they use to defend their burrows. They can live for years without drinking water, getting all of their moisture from the plants they eat—and they deposit their cube-shaped poop on rocks or stumps as a warning to other wombats. Follow one of these powerful marsupials through a suspenseful day in Christopher Cheng’s engaging…


Animal Architects

By Amy Cherrix, Chris Sasaki (illustrator),

Book cover of Animal Architects

Why this book?

Each spread in this memorable book offers beautiful illustrations and a feast of information for curious kids. Featured animals include prairie dogs, trapdoor spiders, satin bower birds, coral, and others. The text focuses on these species as builders—of cozy homes, traps for prey, special spots to attract mates, and more. Starting with the book title on the cover (the reader can see how it was “built” with cross-hatch lines guiding letter placement!), I was totally engaged. So much information, so well shared! I fell in love with the teeny, tiny harvest mouse.

Animal Architects

By Amy Cherrix, Chris Sasaki (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Animal Architects as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This fascinating nonfiction picture book about animal construction projects will captivate young scientists and naturalists—and have them looking for more in their own backyards!

Did you know the natural world is a construction zone? All over Earth, on land and at sea, animals are building the most amazing things. From tricky trapdoors to undersea cities to palaces of pebbles and more, come see the incredible creations of animal architects.


Trapped! A Whale's Rescue

By Robert Burleigh, Wendell Minor (illustrator),

Book cover of Trapped! A Whale's Rescue

Why this book?

This nonfiction book tells an individual animal’s story in a compelling way. The author’s spare, lyrical language makes the reader truly feel this whale’s panicked efforts to free herself from discarded netting left in the ocean by fishermen. The...whale spirals sideways as spidery lines tighten around her. I had to read on! I won’t spoil it for you, but I was cheering at the end. Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue, beautifully illustrated by Wendell Minor, helps readers of all ages understand the impact of human activity on many ocean-dwelling animals. Independent readers will love the detailed back matter about the actual event, whale rescue techniques, and more humpback whale facts.

Trapped! A Whale's Rescue

By Robert Burleigh, Wendell Minor (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Trapped! A Whale's Rescue as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A giant whale trapped in nets and ropes. Can she be helped?

A humpback whale migrating south along the California coast becomes tangled in a fishing trawler’s ropes and nets. As she struggles to free herself, the ropes twist more tightly around her body, digging into her skin. The whale fights until she is too tired to continue. What happens next will astound and inspire.

Based on true events, this is a story of interspecies cooperation and the importance of human responsibility to protect the earth and its many inhabitants.

Wendell Minor’s breathtaking paintings illustrate the majesty of the gentle…


Beavers

By Gail Gibbons,

Book cover of Beavers

Why this book?

In a Magic-School-Bus sort of way, Gail Gibbons presents a ton of information in this book about beavers and their families. The main storyline text is supplemented by multiple “factoid” insets and side-view illustrations. The sum total is a book that matches this mammal’s personality—busy and fascinating!  We see beavers and their world, above and below the waterline of the ponds they inhabit and the streams they dam up to create them. I learned exactly how a beaver den is constructed, and what the cozy inside of one looks like (thanks to a great cross-section illustration).

Beavers

By Gail Gibbons,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beavers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beavers are fascinating animals. They build their own homes and live in family groups. They keep busy with their sharp teeth, powerful tails, and big webbed feet. Their work helps to preserve wetlands. Gibbons explores where they live, what they eat, how they raise their young, and much more.


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