Tonawanda News — Children’s books are supposed to educate their readers, but only the rarest of children’s books will inform adult readers as well as children.
“Vanilla Gorilla” does just that. The David Harrow book features poems about 10 different animals accompanied by bright, vivid illustrations done by Judith Krimski.
It took only a couple page turns for this book to educate this reader. The book introduced the fanaloka, a striped civet that lives in Mada-gascar (whether it’s in the films featuring the African island is not known by this scribe). Who knew? So any book that educates the father who reads it to his kids is going to open up entirely new worlds to those kids and perform a great service to everyone who encounters it.
Each poem tells something about the animal’s lifestyle — for chameleons, for example, “their tongues flick out to capture prey; preferring insects to parfait” — and there’s a fact about each animal at the bottom of the page. Illustrations introduce each animal’s appearance to the reader. Blank pages at the end of the book invite young readers to write poems about their favorite animals, whether real or imaginary, and draw pictures of said animals.
This book is fantastic all the way around. The expertly drawn illustrations grab your attention and refuse to let it go, while the poems are simple enough for kids to understand while offering a lesson on the animal kingdom. And the book goes well beyond the scope of animals offered in the average zoo, with the Portugese man o’ war and poison dart frog taking the place of the overused lions, tigers and bears that make many parental readers say “oh my.”
A book like this is sure to inspire the imaginations of many children. It could very well also inspire their career choices, as this book is just tantalizing enough to encourage further research into animals and could begin many readers down the path toward becoming a zoologist or veterinarian.
Ironically enough, there is no actual gorilla in “Vanilla Gorilla” — although one of its more exotic cousins, the mandrill, is featured. Not that it matters. This book is an absolute pleasure to read to your child and is a must-have for any parent who wants to spark their kids’ minds.
Contact Paul Lane