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Review of The Truth About Bears; The Truth About Dolphins; and The Truth About Hippos

The Truth About Bears
by Maxwell Eaton III; 

illus. by the author
Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    32 pp.
2/18    978-1-62672-666-6    $15.99

The Truth About Dolphins
by Maxwell Eaton III; 

illus. by the author
Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    32 pp.
5/18    978-1-62672-668-0    $15.99

The Truth About Hippos
by Maxwell Eaton III; 

illus. by the author
Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    32 pp.
2/18    978-1-62672-667-3    $15.99

Eaton has hit upon an effective combination of silly and informative in this new nonfiction picture book series, respecting his young audience’s ability to discern between the two. The dynamic pages, with lighthearted, crisply rendered cartoon illustrations, have a lot going on but are thoughtfully designed to make the books accessible to both new and more-independent readers. The main texts dispense basic facts about species, habitats, diet, physiology, and behaviors: “Dolphins come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.” The animals’ speech bubbles alternate between supplementing information (about dolphins’ smooth skin: “it helps make us fast”) and advancing goofy subplots, such as a hippo’s failed attempts at bike riding. Other animals and a child or two pop up with more funny and/or supporting asides. Text boxes provide additional details. Clever comparisons help readers digest information: “If this book was a hippo mouth, it could open almost all the way. If it was a human mouth, you couldn’t even read it.” Each volume concludes with discussion of environmental threats and a call to champion conservation efforts: “You can help by learning about bears [hippos, dolphins] and then teaching others.” The back matter is displayed 
to look like an open file folder packed with field notes; cartoony “photos,” samples, and drawings; a territory map; and short lists of books for kids and grownups. The truth is…this series may well inspire a new generation of animal scientists and conservationists.

From the May/June 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Making a Difference.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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