Animal Tongues

Animal Tongues by Dawn Cusick is one of those fun nonfiction books that almost jump off the shelf at you. After all, on the cover is a giraffe sticking its very long tongue out. What child can pass that up?

animal tonguesThis fast-paced book is a perfect introduction to animal tongues, a subject most of us have probably not thought a lot about. Cusick starts with the familiar:  people tongues, dog tongues and cat tongues. With that basic understanding, she then moves into some wilder beasts.

In addition to clear and colorful photographs, and engrossing text, Cusick throws in some lively activities for kids to do. For example, she gives a quick activity to make a comparison of how long our tongue would be if we were a nectar bat. Fun!

Unfortunately, a few facts might have needed a bit more checking. On page 26, the author says “birds that suck nectar have hollow, straw-like tongues.” Okay, she doesn’t say hummingbirds, but my son immediately said, “That’s a myth about hummingbirds, mom.” I looked it up, and sure enough hummingbirds do not have tongues like straws. See for example, this website about hummingbird anatomy. Maybe she meant some other nectar-feeding birds.

On page 31 we ran into something I knew more about. In this case, she says a house fly has a “tongue like a soda straw.” After years of giving insect mouthpart demonstrations, I know house fly mouthparts are actually more like sponges. It’s too bad she missed this, because having a sponge for a tongue is really cool.

In any case, this is still a highly entertaining book. I think it is a good way to get children interested and inspired to find out more about animals.

If you want to learn more about human tongues and the sense of taste, I put up a few related activities at my Growing With Science blog, plus a video of a flower fly using its tongue to feed on a dandelion flower.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: EarlyLight Books, Inc.; 1 edition (August 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0979745519
ISBN-13: 978-0979745515

nonfictionmonday

Nonfiction Monday is a blogging celebration of nonfiction books for kids. For more information, stop by Picture Book of the Day. This week’s post is at Wendie’s Wanderings.

This entry was posted in Animals, Nonfiction, Nonfiction Monday Review and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Animal Tongues

  1. Sarah N. says:

    This sounds like a fun book. I think my girls would get lots of laughs from it. Thanks for the review.

  2. Roberta says:

    Wait until you see all the different tongues. Imagine a killer whale sticking out its tongue!

  3. I would never have known that some facts were incorrect. Neither, of course, would children. I think publishers do a great disservice to children when they publish books that are not adequately fact-checked. How disappointing that an otherwise fun book is marred by inaccuracies. Thanks for your review.

  4. Roberta says:

    I didn’t even mention that the photograph of the shiny green flies that accompany the text aren’t houseflies, because insects are so often incorrectly identified in photographs. (Houseflies are gray).

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